DO | Recycling Used Flags

With Memorial Day behind us and the Fourth of July ahead of us here in the United States (plus 363.25 other days in a year when you might display your flag), your flag could potentially get a lot of wear and tear. Cotton flags, while not made as much anymore, lose their vibrant color over time when displayed in the sun. Nylon flags are now the norm, but they can’t necessarily be disposed of in the same way a cotton flag would (burning isn’t recommended). In order to maintain the integrity of your flag, even in its retirement, it is important to know the rules of the flag and also the proper ways you can dispose of your used flag once it has given its service to your home.


We knew it was time to replace our flag when it was so thin and raggedy that it got caught up on our gutter one day. Though, I quite enjoyed the look since it held the flag out and you could see it completely. Not bad for viewing, but not ideal for flag display.

We already had a new one in the basement, so it was simply a matter of exchanging the flags and disposing of the old one. Though once I started looking into it, disposal became a “not so simple” matter after all.

I knew of two ways to dispose of the flag. Burn it, or put it in the old mailbox in front of the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post in my hometown with the other flags to be recycled.

I wasn’t going to burn it, since that requires a lot of effort that I just don’t have the time or energy for. And since I don’t live in my hometown anymore, or anywhere near it, I had to find a substitute.

According to the Boy Scouts’ Scouting Magazine, you can also:

3. Cut up the flag so it’s no longer technically a flag;

4. pay someone to recycle it;

5. or contact someone in your local community like a VFW Post, Elks’ Lodge, or American Legion Post.

The latter was the one I was most familiar and comfortable doing (although I could have just cut it up and been done with it), so I called the local Elks’ Lodge to see if they accepted retired flags and yes they did. I drove it over there, dropped it off, and voila – civic duty done for the day.

I also learned, after I drove all that way, that the Ace Hardware up the street from my house also has a donation box for retired flags.

Either way, do it right folks. It is the flag, after all.


For more information on flag advocacy, check out these articles by the American Legion.


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