How to Dispose of an American Flag? • 4 Safe & Respectful options

How to Dispose of American Flag

Most U.S. homes, businesses, and institutions have an American flag to fly on national holidays. But as time goes by, its colors and fabric wear out until it loses its useful life and becomes a tattered object that needs to be replaced. And so the question arises: How to Dispose of an American Flag?

Out of respect for the nation and its patriotic symbols, the best thing to do is not to throw the American flag in the trash like any other useless item. There are many, much more ceremonious ways to dispose of it, and today we'll tell you exactly what to do if you plan to replace your flag with a newer one.

Dispose of your old American flag as follows

The U.S. Flag Code states that this symbol should be treated with respect and honor, even if it has to be destroyed because of unfavorable conditions.

1. Burning the flag

This regulation states that a dignified way to dispose of the old American flag is to burn it. However, this method poses some risks. If the flag is made of polyester or nylon, it is best not to incinerate it.

The smoke derived from burning includes toxic agents that could harm your lungs and other organs.

But if you will definitely use this mechanism, make sure that the flames are large and powerful enough for the flag to burn with dignity. Before throwing the cloth into the fire, it is important to fold it correctly to comply with the protocols of the ceremony. Then, place it over the fire.

While the fire consumes the flag, it is necessary to show respect for this symbol of freedom and unity. One way to do this is by saluting, reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, or singing the National Anthem.

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Have you made sure that the flag has been completely burned? Now, take the precaution of extinguishing the fire completely to avoid any incident that could be regrettable.

2. You can also bury it

If you do not get along with fire or you consider that the smoke could harm your health, another option is to bury the flag. To do it in a dignified and respectful way, follow these steps:

  • The first thing you should do is fold your old flag from the ceremonial triangle.
  • Carefully place the cloth inside a strong wooden box.
  • Bury the house a few feet off the ground.

Careful handling of the emblem is recommended, even if you are going to bury it as a method of disposal. Some people consider that it is not an honest and dignified method, but as long as you do it in a respectful way it can be a good alternative to get rid of that old flag.

3. Try to donate the flag to an organization

Some government offices have disposal boxes strategically placed next to the facades of the respective buildings. These boxes are arranged to deposit the old flag. Once the garbage cans are filled, they are picked up by organizations such as VFW, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, and American Legions.

There are also numerous places around your home area that will receive that old flag. They will, of course, take care of it through a thorough procedure that does not transgress the dignity of the country.

In addition to the organizations we have mentioned, companies like Walmart or Home Depot will receive the item. They will take care of incineration or recycling, following the procedures established in the standard.

Look in establishments such as hardware or grocery stores for flag drop boxes available for donation. For many, it is one of the easiest and safest alternatives, especially when there is no time to apply another procedure.

4. Shredding techniques

Shredding is a foolproof method for disposing of that tattered and unusable flag. Once cut, the pieces of cloth do not represent the flag of the United States, so throwing it away in this way does not represent disrespect to the dignity of the American.

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After it has been completely disassembled, it will be much easier and quicker to bury, burn or throw it away. And although this is an accepted method, it will always be good to maintain an attitude of respect toward this symbol.

For the same reason, it is vital to comply with the following procedure:

  • Start by cutting the flag along the red and white stripes.
  • Use sharp scissors to carefully separate the parts. The idea is to prevent an accident in which you could get hurt.

There is also another shredding alternative that you can put in place:

  • With the help of sharp scissors, make a first vertical cut down the middle of the flag.
  • Then make a second cut, equally down the middle of the fabric, but horizontally.

Now, regardless of the shredding options you have chosen, you must take into account the following precaution: Keep the blue section where the white stars are visibly intact.

It is time to replace a flag that is worn out

It is disrespectful to fly a tattered U.S. flag, so if you notice any wear and tear on it, it is best to purchase a new one. For many, flying a flag in poor condition is as undignified as throwing it in the trash without following the usual

If you do not have enough money to buy another one, you can seek help from organizations or companies, whose coupons will facilitate the acquisition. In this way, you will be able to comply with the etiquette of value that is required at the time of raising the flag at home, company, or institution.

It is important to take into consideration that it is an emblem with enormous significance for peace and freedom in the country. Therefore, it is necessary to keep them in good condition, treat them with respect and dispose of them with dignity.

Now that you know four ways to dispose of the flag with caution and respect, there is no credible excuse why you should throw it away.

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