Recycle Outdoor Gear – Recycling Old Equipment

Recycle Outdoor Gear

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Do you have old hiking, camping, climbing or adventure equipment that is beyond repair? Are you opposed to just dumping it in a landfill? We have good news! There are several options to recycle outdoor gear. We’ll show you some options to upcycle, re-purpose or simply recycle it.

Reasons for Recycling Old Clothing and Equipment

According to recent estimates by the EPA, textiles account for 16 million tons of annual municipal waste. The majority of that comes from discarded clothing and footwear. Certainly, the outdoor industry bears a portion of the responsibility. Beyond simple volume metrics, technical fabrics and other exotic materials introduce hazardous chemicals to the waste stream. But how do we keep this stuff out of landfills? Well, we have several options to recycle outdoor gear.

Options to Recycle Outdoor Gear

If you have old gear that is worn out or otherwise unusable, don’t throw it away. Growing environmental concern and a sense of social responsibility in the outdoor industry has led to a host of options for your heavily loved stuff. Consider any of the following before tossing outdoor gear.

Option 1: Upcycle Worn Gear

Upcycling is one way to recycle outdoor gear. It is the process of making something new out of something old. Basically, once an item has outlived its original purpose, it can be used to create something else. You tend to see this a lot with old clothing. However, there are many companies that will take other stuff. Check out these sites for upcycling options for outdoor gear:

  • Green Guru – These guys will take bike inner tubes, climbing ropes, wetsuits, tents and other stuff directly from you or from upcycling bins located at their partners’ physical locations. Better yet, they even send you a discount code toward the purchase of new gear.
  • The North Face – Their Clothes the Loop program is one of the best out there. They will take any apparel or footwear (any condition, any brand). Just drop them off at any The North Face retail or outlet store. They will even give you a $10 reward toward your next purchase of $100 or more with their brand.
  • Metamorphic Gear – If you have unwanted sailcloth (or similar material), truck tarpaulin, seat belts, parachutes, climbing ropes or other materials to recycle, consider giving them to this company. They re-purpose these materials into dog leashes, tote bags, wallets, etc.
  • Patagonia – They will take any used Patagonia product and recycle it. While it doesn’t extend to other brands, it is a nice option.

Option 2: Re-purpose Old Equipment

You can also re-purpose your clothing or equipment for personal use. That just means using it for something else. It is similar to upcycling, but you end up keeping the final product. Here are some great sites with lots of ideas.

  • Instructables – There are some great projects on Instructables for re-purposing old gear. Just do a search for upcycle or repurpose and the item you want to reuse.
  • Pinterest – For those crafty folks, check out Pinterest for some great ideas. As with Instructables, a simple search will turn up lots of options. Try “upcycle climbing ropes,” “repurpose tent fabric” or simply “recycle outdoor gear” to get started.
  • The Sewing Loft – This blog post offers 100 different ideas for upcycling clothing. Many of these will work for outdoor fabrics and tent material.
  • Etsy – While not a DIY option, some of you might prefer to have someone else re-purpose your old stuff. You can often find a crafter or sewer willing to turn your old material into something new and wonderful. I’ve had good luck using the search term “custom” to find a seller willing to make me something specific.

Option 3: Recycle Outdoor Gear

Finally, if you can’t find a new use for your damaged gear, you can recycle it. You might be surprised at how many materials are actually recyclable. Many plastics can be thrown right into your standard recycling bin. Just check to ensure they have the appropriate logo and number for your local programs. Metals are also very recyclable. Some can go in your container, while others need to go to a recycling center. If you have questions about how or where to recycle something, check with your local waste management center or check out

Final Thoughts - Recycle Outdoor Gear

Rather than throw away your old adventure equipment, consider giving it new life. There are many options to upcycle, re-purpose or recycle outdoor gear. If you haven’t found anything useful in the above suggestions, contact us directly. We would love to help you find an alternative to the landfill.

As always, if you have any suggestions, we would love to read them in the comments below.


MJ is a world traveler and outdoor enthusiast. To date, he has visited 26 countries (most while wearing a backpack), scaled 17 peaks, hiked the back-country in 11 national parks and snowboarded in both polar hemispheres. He enjoys experiencing new cultures and soaking in all life has to offer.

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Just great tips, no spam!