Is Yarn Recyclable? (And Is It Compostable and Biodegradable?)

More often than not, the only times that the word ‘yarn’ comes up is when talking about clothes or fashion designing. Well, for today, clothes are not our concern. We want to examine the possibility of yarns undergoing recycling and how their use can affect the environment.

Yarns are quite useful and, in fact, indispensable that it’s almost impossible to avert one’s mind to issues of its recycling. However, as it stands, it appears we must look into it, the reason being that there is a constant increase in environmental concerns, and it is of utmost essence to examine their eco-friendliness.

In this article, we shall provide insights on whether yarns can be recycled or not, we would also look at many other ways that yarns can be affecting the environment, both positively and negatively. Without a doubt, this article will be packed with so much value that you cannot afford to miss out on. So, let’s dive in, and enjoy the ride!

Can You Recycle Yarn?

If you are quite conversant with the way fabrics work, you are likely to also know yarns and how important they are when making clothes. While we know how possible and extensive their uses can go, let’s find out if they can also be reused after recycling or if they can undergo recycling at all.

Yarns are not recyclable. This may seem surprising or unexpected because they are like wool or cotton, and these items can be easily recycled. Sadly, there are no two ways about it. It’s impossible to toss it into a recycling bin and have it magically transformed into a new set of yarn. Many recycling stations won’t even accept yarn for recycling, since they have excluded it from their acceptable recyclable materials.

However, while recycling is not available for the disposal of yarns, don’t panic; there are still several options to opt for in the disposal of yarns. For instance, you can donate the yarns to local organizations focused on charity work.

Several other options shall be explored in the subsequent part of this article. Later in this post, we also gave you an insight into the different things you can use your old yarn for. Just hang in, and continue reading, there is still a lot to gain from this post.

Is Yarn Environmentally Friendly?

If you make use of yarns for fabric making or any other craft, you would have observed that yarns are made out of various materials, including but not limited to wool, acrylic, cotton, fiber, etc. Despite noticing these various materials, it’s possible that you have not paused to think of the kind of effects these materials have on the environment. Despite all these yarns having their value and all, we encourage you to opt for yarns made from natural fibers. The reason for this will be revealed shortly.

Since we have already established that your yarns can’t undergo the process of recycling, you might be prompted to assume that it also implies they are bad for the environment. After all, if you cannot get rid of them by recycling, that might imply that they’d end up in the landfill and, in turn, cause environmental pollution. Perhaps this is true, perhaps not. Let’s find out!

You will do well to remember that we mentioned yarns are made out of various materials, mostly natural fibers. However, for commercial purposes, industries are tilting towards acrylic yarn, made from a type of plastic called acryonile.

This doesn’t sound bad until you understand that the production of these acryonile requires many fossil fuels, which are released into the environment as toxic fumes, contributing to air pollution.

Asides from causing air pollution, in washing acrylic yarns, microplastics are released into the water, which in turn amounts into man-made waste and ends up filling up the landfill after refusing to undergo biodegradation.

So, as you can see, yarns may be helping us in achieving our goal of making different clothes, but they have proved not to be environmentally friendly. This has a lot of implications for the environment.

As we still wait for more sustainable yarn materials that won’t affect the environment negatively, we can reduce our use of yarns, and repurpose the ones that have been used for other things. Later in this post, we will reveal to you the things you can make with your old yarns.

Are Yarn And Wool The Same?

In case you are wondering whether yarn and wool are the same, keep reading. We would break them down into similarities and differences. Before delving into the differences and similarities, you should know that yarn is a kind of textile made from various fibers and is essential in fabric making.

This is where the majority of the presupposition that yarn and wool are the same or might not be the same come from. But not to worry, we will settle these in a jiffy.

What Are The Differences Between Wool And Yarn?

Yarn and wool may look similar, but some differences cut across them.

  • Yarn is a thread interwoven and scorned for the sole purpose of weaving or knitting a fabric, whereas wool is the hair gotten from sheep or any other animal.
  • Yarn is produced as a result of spinning, crocheting, weaving, bonding, etc., whereas wool is typically produced via spinning.

What are the Similarities?

  • They are both types of textile.
  • Wool is typically a type of yarn. We have various yarn, and wool happens to be one of them.
  • Wool and yarn are typically used to make clothing such as sweaters, gloves, scarves, blankets, etc.

So while it’s unavoidable that both wool and yarns have certain similarities, they are not the same thing. If there’s one thing we are sure of, wool is a yarn type and not an equivalent or alternative. The next time you see someone trying to confuse both yarn and wool as the same materials, you can point them in the right direction and tell them the differences.

Is Yarn Compostable?

Now, you are probably wondering if you can compost your yarns. In answering this question, the answer is both yes and no. This is because it solely depends on the type of yarn being composed.

As you should already know, we have natural yarns made from natural fiber, and we have synthetic ones made from acryonile, a form of plastic.

Precisely, If the yarn is made from natural fiber, then you can compost it. However, if it’s synthetic yarn made from plastic, then you cannot compost it. This is because plastic particles are quite difficult to get digested into the soil.

So when it comes to acrylic yarns, polyester, nylon, etc., they should not be added to the compost heap because they will not break down.

But for yarns made from natural fibers, you can go ahead and compost them. They will break down.

Is Yarn Biodegradable?

The next issue is as regards whether or not your yarn is biodegradable. This is essential, especially if you are deeply concerned or genuinely interested in matters revolving around the environment.

So to answer the question, is yarn biodegradable?

Well, fortunately for the environment and all its enthusiasts, yarn is biodegradable. This goes for all forms of natural yarns. This is because they are made from a plant which is technically a living organism. So if you have tons of yarns stored up, you do not have to worry about environmental pollution. Yarns generally biodegrade within 5 months.

However, you should note that your yarn may take longer to biodegrade if made from wool. This is the only exception. As a result of density, it might take up as much as 50 years to biodegrade in situations like this.

Asides from wool yarns, you do not have to worry about your yarns’ biodegradability taking forever. In fact, within a couple of months, bacteria and other microorganisms will work on it.

As we also pointed out above, there are some yarns made with plastic materials. Because of their creation materials, these kinds of yarns would not biodegrade on time. Plastic materials take thousands of years to biodegrade. They even cause a problem for the environment when they biodegrade. So, because of the environment, it is better to avoid the use of this kind of yarns.

As you can see, these yarns pose more harm to the environment than good. This is why it is mostly advisable to opt for natural yarns, as they tend to be more eco-friendly. After all, the last thing you want is to use items that are detrimental to the environment.

5 Creative Ways to Reuse Old Yarn

The next thing you are probably thinking of is what you can do with old yarns. Well, fortunately for you, there are various things you can do with your old yarns.

So you can get right to it. Here are some very good options you can apply your old yarns to;

1. A Knitted Plant Hanger

If you cannot knit, this is an excellent and super easy opportunity to learn to use your yarns on little projects. Hanging plants is now a form of decoration in vogue, and with your yarns, you need not buy a costly hanger. Simply use your old yarns and knit yourself a cool plant hanger

2. Coat Hanger

It doesn’t just stop at plant hangers; you can use your yarns to make a coat hanger. This is no doubt a great way to reuse your old yarns. It will not only add a pop of exciting colors to your space, but it’s also quite easy to do with just a little bit of glue and tape.

3. Yarn Wig

You can knit all by yourself a yarn wig for a baby. It is a very creative and cute way to create a wig for her little doll. Not only does this ensure you don’t have leftover yarns all over, but it also guarantees that your child will have doll wigs in various exciting colors.

4. Stitch Markers

By taking about one or two yards of yarn, simply tie them in a loop and use them in making stitch markers.

5. Yarn Tassels

To reuse yarns, tassels are perfect. All you need is a few yards of yarn to make the perfect path decorations. You can even make yourself a Garland of tassels with more of the leftover yarns.

You can use yarns to create include; knitted coasters, tea bag envelopes, rainbow hats, etc.


In the sphere of fabric making, yarns are not ignorable, and there is almost nothing that can be done to discourage or minimize their use. However, this also imposes a responsibility on its user to take care of its use.

These yarns have to be properly managed to ensure they don’t cause any challenge to the environment. All necessary measures should be considered and taken to make sure yarns do not become a source of environmental challenge.

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About Rinkesh

A true environmentalist by heart ❤️. Founded Conserve Energy Future with the sole motto of providing helpful information related to our rapidly depleting environment. Unless you strongly believe in Elon Musk‘s idea of making Mars as another habitable planet, do remember that there really is no 'Planet B' in this whole universe.