LiveGreen: Re-using ‘retired’ lab coats

As announced in UNMC Today, lab coats with the old brand will be retired Aug. 15. Some of you already have new coats and others will be getting them soon.

That led to the question: what can we do with the old ones besides sending them to the landfill?

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by Melanie Stewart

LiveGreen set out to find a sustainable option, ideally either recycling or upcycling them into something else.

Unfortunately it’s hard to recycle a fabric that is a blend (65 percent polyester/35 percent cotton) especially with the cotton on the lesser side. This blend helps lab coats stand the test of time, though, so they should be able to be reused, right?

I looked into some options and found that they could be used on our own medical service trips, and some local schools could use them as well. They often don’t have the budget for heavy coats and buy plastic aprons that are thrown away. If we can get coats to them, it’s a win-win!

Turns out it’s not quite that simple. UNMC and Nebraska Medicine want to protect your identity as well as their credibility — we can’t have people running around in lab coats pretending to work here or, worse yet, pretending to be you.

So what can we do with old coats? It turns out it doesn’t take too much effort to remove the branded patch and, if applicable, the embroidery with your name and department. This is especially true if you only remove enough so that words aren’t legible.

If you would like to see your old lab coat donated to a worthy cause, you can remove your name, department, and patch and then:

  • contact Sara Pirtle to donate them to the medical service trips;
  • drop them off at The Company Store, located on the first level of Clarkson Tower near the entrance to Clarkson Cafe; or
  • contact LiveGreen to schedule a pickup.


  1. Rosie Zweiback says:

    This is outstanding!! I love what LIVEGreen does at UNMC.

  2. Melanie Stewart says:

    Also, UNMC Bookstore will take them. They use them to send to groups on campus to try on (so they don’t have to go to the bookstore, particularly good for people out of town), donate to schools, & give them to UNMC/NM groups that travel. You can drop them off there or if you have large quantities call them to schedule pickup.

  3. Linda P Carroll says:

    I want to recycle my late husband's white coats, but they all have his name and either dept. of hospital name on them. I've contacted embroidery stores, but it's expensive to have the embroidery removed. Any suggestions for recycling? Thanks,

  4. Melanie Stewart says:

    Hi Linda,
    I'd be happy to get the coats and find a new home for them. Email me at and we'll find a way to connect.

  5. Maurine Bryan says:

    Been making children's quilts out of them. Nice material for backing and blocks.

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