Learn about ways to recycle sharp sewing supplies
Properly disposing of needles, pins and rotary blades
We like to think that we are Earth-conscious people who make every attempt to recycle and reuse. But some items are harder to dispose of properly than others, especially when it comes to sharp metal materials.
You may be thinking to yourself, “Hey, what’s the big deal? These items are dull or broken.”
Sewing supplies that are not properly disposed of in the trash can accidentally cut, prick or scratch a person or animal if they cut through the bag. Improperly disposed sharp items have even been known to cause damage to the mechanical gears inside garbage trucks! And in some places, recycling is hand sorted, meaning that sharp objects are not allowed.
It’s definitely worth checking the rules where you live before you throw anything loosely into the recycling or trash bin. Your town or city may have their own process of disposing of anything hurtful/hazardous to others. You can always ask them and they may prefer that you to bring those items to them. So what can we do to prevent these used items from being unsafely tossed into the trash or wasting valuable precious metal resources?
After we received a thought-provoking question the other day from a customer about proper thread needle disposal, we wanted to share ideas and suggestions received from our wonderful quilting, sewing and crafting community.
"How does everyone dispose of needles? And can they be recycled?"
We asked our Facebook community what they do with old needles and we are so impressed by everyone’s thoughtful suggestions! Must be a stitchery-person thing? Read on to find out what others do to store and safely dispose of sharp sewing and quilting supplies.
Ideas to store needles, pins & rotary blades (before recycling them):
- Reuse the container it came in
- Reuse a spice container, cleaned out and labelled
- Reuse a mint or gum tin, then the whole thing can be thrown into a recycling unit that allows metal
- Reuse a tic tac container for needles, pins, blades and more
- Reuse an old peanut butter jar or water bottle, simply punch a hole in the top and you are good to go
Here are some ideas on how to safely dispose of or recycle used sewing needles, pins & rotary blades:
- Weave pins and needles into a piece of cardboard
- Collect old rotary blades in a container with a screw on top and recycle when it is full
- Use an empty prescription bottle with a child proof top
- Place in a pincushion and move to an empty altoids tin. Recycle with other metals when full at a metal or hazardous waste facility
- Take to your local pharmacy in an empty epi pen or diabetes test strips case
Many quilters and sewists have said they store and dispose of sharp supplies in a zip lock bag, place them in the slot behind an old wall-mounted medicine chest in their home, or simply let them loose in a drawer to prepare for an apocalypse. Yikes! For those of you who also follow these quilters and sewists, maybe consider another option? Many pharmacies can dispose of them with their sharps or you can take them to your local sharps bin!
Ideas to reuse old needles, pins & rotary blades:
- Purchase a rotary blade sharpener
- Reuse dull rotary cutting blades to cut paper
- Hang pictures (use to hang up pictures)
- Use dull needles to perforate paper piecing patterns
- Use to make art, such as these sculptures by April X J Pressley, which use Superior Threads needles to hold everything up and together.
Trashing old needles, rotary cutting blades and pins should always be a last resort. Safely store and dispose of these items in a container to prevent them from becoming loose in the trash, and then place the container in the garbage.
We'd love to hear what you do with dull needles! Don’t forget to follow us on Instagram and Facebook for more about Superiors’ thread and needles! Shop for new needles below after recycling your old ones!