How to properly dispose of a worn, tattered American flag

How to properly dispose of a worn, tattered American flag
How to properly dispose of a worn, tattered American flag

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – If you fly an American flag, it will inevitably become worn and tattered. You may wonder how to retire Old Glory respectfully.

According to the US Flag Code: “When a flag is in such a condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem for display, it should be destroyed in a dignified way.”

American flags can be retired through a ceremonial burning. Many organizations including the American Legion, local VFWs and Boy Scout troops accept flags for burning and will properly retire your flag. But if your flag is made of a synthetic material like nylon, burning it creates hazardous fumes that can be harmful to human health and the environment. So, burning those is not an option.

There are other ways to properly dispose of those flags made of synthetic materials. Nylon flags can be mailed to American Flags Express for recycling. There is a fee to cover the cost of sorting, storing and transporting to a fabric recycler.

You might consider a DIY retirement. The Boy Scouts suggest cutting apart your flag. But you have to do it so you don’t cut through the blue field of stars. That symbolically maintains the union. Once cut apart, it is no longer a flag.

If you live near a Goodwill store, bring the fabric scraps of your former flag for their textile recycling program. If recycling is not available, then disposal in the trash is acceptable since the scraps are no longer considered a flag.

And maybe you shouldn’t jump to retire your flag. Sometimes you can make it last by cleaning and repairing it.

MORE ONLINE: DoD advice for how to properly dispose of American flags

If it is time to replace your American flag, The Local Station is ready to help. From 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Flag Day, Monday, June 14, anyone can bring a damaged or faded flag to WJXT (directions to studios) for proper disposal and receive a brand new America flag.

The idea of celebrating the flag is believed to have originated in 1885 when a school teacher in Wisconsin wanted to celebrate what was then the 108th anniversary of the official adoption of the Stars and Stripes.

Now, we recognize Flag Day every June 14.


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