Recycle worn out clothes

Table of Contents

6 Things To Do With Clothes That You Can’t Donate Because They’re Damaged Or Not In Good Condition

You there, with the worn out *NYSYNC concert t-shirt from 1999! Don’t throw the whole riddled, foundation stained shirt in the trash can. That’s where it’ll become another piece of material clogging the landfill and plaguing the Earth. You don’t want that, Mother Earth doesn’t want that, and *NSYNC wouldn’t want that. Thankfully there are other things to do with clothes you can’t donate because they’re not in good enough condition to give away. There’s always a solution to a problem, and a place for your favorite boy band t-shirt.

Old or unwanted clothing, it turns out, is also an environmental threat, just like plastic. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reports that in 2015 landfills received up to 10.5 million tons of textiles. If your jaw has appropriately dropped and your tree hugging heart has been crushed under the weight of this number, know there are ways to prevent this!

It doesn’t matter if your jeans have so many frayed holes in them that they’re actually considered unfashionable. They don’t have to be rejected from your local donation point and then chucked forever. There are more eco-friendly options for your dull socks and stained sweaters.

Repurpose As A Rag

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If your t-shirt that became a canvas for coffee stains can’t be donated as a pre-worn vintage tee, it can become a perfectly absorbant kitchen rag. Instead of tossing it in the bin, give it a second life as cloth to wipe up spills and crumbs.

Recycle Them

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You may not be able to donate all your old and odd socks, but you can recycle them. You can recycle most textiles your closet doesn’t have space for anymore or your socks don’t have a pair for. Going through companies like American Textile Recycling Service, you can hand over your worn out clothing responsibly. You can even recycle your bras with Bra Recycling and shoes with Soles 4 Souls. Seriously, there’s a sustainable solution for everything. Including your underwear.

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If there’s an animal shelter in your area, you could contact them to see if they could repurpose your old textiles. If your kitchen cabinets are stocked with old t-shirts turned clean up rags, perhaps another organization could benefit from a few new rags. Call to see if your local shelter needs old clothing for additional cleaning rags or for any other particular purpose!

Turn Into An Arts + Crafts Project

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Clothing textiles are excellent material for an arts and crafts project. Turn an old sock into a sock monkey. Old flannels into patches for your mom’s old Levis. Just use your creativity and you can make old clothes your artistic medium.

Compost!

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According to Recyclebank, you can compost old clothes that you can’t donate. However, this is only exclusive to cotton. Your dad’s polyester suit from the ’70s won’t be able to be processed. According to Recyclebank, “Cotton and other natural-fiber clothing can even be composted as long as they are not blended with synthetic fibers like polyester; make sure to shred it finely and remove attachments like zippers and buttons.”

Give Your Clothes To H&M

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Eliminate “can’t” from your vocabulary. Actually, you can donate your worn out clothing. Kind of. Clothing retailer H&M has joined the zero waste mission. According to their website you can donate textiles from any brand, in any condition and they’ll take care of the rest. Depending on what condition your clothes are in, they’ll become cleaning cloths or insulation in their next life. Imagine that. Your old underwear — yes, you can donate them — could become insulation!

So, you’ve cleaned out your closet and ended up with a big bag of clothing (or three) that you don’t like, don’t fit, or simply no longer need. What on earth do you do with it?

The fashion industry is now being counted as one of the world’s biggest polluters, right behind Big Oil, so making sure you dispose of old clothing properly is an important step toward mitigating its environmental effects.

Here’s a step-by-step checklist for all of your discarded duds.

1. Divide and Conquer

First, sort your stuff into three piles: great condition, good condition and poor condition. Great-condition clothing looks new, has retained its shape perfectly, and bears no signs of wear and tear. Usable-condition clothing may be a little bit faded or worn but still in wearable condition with no stains or holes. Poor-condition clothing is stained, threadbare or has holes in it.

2. Clothing Swaps and Consignment Stores

Great-condition clothing and accessories are excellent candidates for clothing swaps or consignment stores. To host a clothing swap, invite a handful of good friends who wear approximately the same size to bring their closet surplus, and you can exchange clothes among you.

Alternately, bring your items to a consignment store in your area. They’ll sell them for you and give you a portion of the proceeds.

3. Thrift Stores/Charity Donations

Good-condition clothing can be donated to a thrift store like Value Village, Goodwill or Salvation Army. There, the clothing is sorted, priced and placed on the sales floor for secondhand shoppers to find. Oftentimes thrift stores use the proceeds from the sale of these items to support charity initiatives.

4. Clothing Recycling

You really shouldn’t donate your poor-condition clothing to a thrift store — you’ll waste their time when it comes time to sort, and if you’re getting rid of it because of its condition, you can bet no one else will want to wear it, either.

For those stained, torn or otherwise unwearable textiles, clothing recycling is the answer. Find a drop-off spot near you using our Recycling Locator.

Some companies like Patagonia accept their own clothing items back for recycling, while fashion retailers like H&M and American Eagle Outfitters offer in-store clothing recycling bins to collect textiles and accessories of any brand, so recycling your clothing is now as easy as a trip to the mall.

Find a drop-off location for clothing and accessories near you using the Recycling Locator.

Find Recycling Guides for Other Materials

Frequent Clothing & Accessory Questions

A simple internet search will likely turn up dozens of local stores in your city or town. (An added benefit of using a consignment store is that your dollars stay local.) Textile recyclers sort clothing just like you did, into clothing worth wearing and clothing suitable for recycling. Textiles are sorted by color and material type and shredded to become fiberfill or stuffing. Some textiles are cut down and sold as rags, and still others are baled up and sold by weight. There are some programs that take eyewear. OneSight collects used eyewear at large eyewear stores like Sears Optical, LensCrafters and Target Optical, then disassembles the glasses and sends them to a third-party recycler. OneSight receives payment for the raw materials recovered and then uses these funds to create entirely new prescription eyewear for those who need it. You can follow the same rules as you did for clothing. Great-condition shoes and boots can be swapped or sold, good-condition footwear can be donated, and shoes in poor condition can be dropped off for recycling at a clothing recycling collection bin.


Additional Reading

  • Why T-Shirts Can’t Be Recycled into New T-Shirts: An in-depth look at the ins and outs of textile recycling
  • Textile Recycling Initiative Seeks to Save Fast Fashion: How (and why) retailers like H&M are getting into the textile recycling game
  • Circle Economy: A cooperative organization based in the Netherlands that promotes and encourages textile recycling and a circular economy within the textile industry
  • You Are What You Wear: Redress, an organization seeking to promote environmental sustainability, explains how you can be instrumental in reducing waste in the fashion industry

Clothing & textiles

How to recycle unwanted clothes & textiles

  • Check to see if your council collects clothes and textiles to be recycled.
  • Drop off your unwanted items at recycling points and clothing and textile banks in supermarket and local car parks – enter your postcode below to find your nearest.
  • Donate items to registered charities and re-use organisations. The Charity Retail website will help you to find your nearest charity shop.
  • One of the most convenient ways to donate clothes is through registered charity collection services. Some charities, such as The British Heart Foundation, offer a free clothing collection service from your home. It’s easy to arrange via their website. You don’t even need to order a bag, just re-use your own bags and boxes from home.
  • If you are fundraising for your school, church or organisations such as Girl Guides or Scouts, there are textile companies who can arrange a collection to help you to raise money for your cause.

  • Many high street retailers such as Primark and M&S now offer clothing donation banks in-store. These are sometimes called ‘bring back schemes’. This means that next time you pop out to the shops, you can drop off a bag of your old clothes. Simple!

We’re talking about the pieces that are too stained and ripped to be donated.

Purging my wardrobe is always a satisfying feeling, but the real work comes after, when I have to figure out what to do with the remaining bags and boxes of stuff. Clothes that are in good condition can easily be donated to a thrift store, given away in a clothing swap, or sold online, but it’s the clothes in poor condition that always stump me. Stained, stretched, smelly and torn, they cannot be donated, but throwing them in the trash fills me with guilt. Are there other options besides the landfill?

The short answer is yes, but the long answer is considerably more complicated.

While looking into this issue, I’ve discovered that there are some decent options for textile recycling, but the unfortunate reality is that it’s a largely undeveloped industry. Using recycled or upcycled fabric has yet to become standard practice in clothing manufacturing, so there has never been a push for companies to collect it, nor to make old textile recycling easily accessible. (There are some promising efforts underway, such as this initiative by Evrnu.) In other words, if you want to repurpose or recycle your old clothing, you’ll have to work for it.

This, of course, is unfortunate because the more inaccessible something is, the less inclined people are to pursue it. That’s why so much of what we buy ends up in landfill; it’s too much work to bother recycling it. But let’s hope that you’re a dedicated TreeHugger who wants to put in that extra effort! If you are (of course you are!), then here are some ways to go about it.

1. Can it be repaired?

Don’t give up so fast! Play around with different stain removers and washing techniques to see if you can get the stubborn marks out. Contact a seamstress or tailor to repair tears, make adjustments, or add patches. You’ll be surprised at the magic these skilled professionals can work, and how affordable it is. Maybe your city has a Repair Café or a traveling Repairathon (like this one in Toronto). Check these out and learn how to fix your own clothes.

2. Call your local thrift stores.

Find out what their policies are for clothes in poor condition. They likely have an agreement with a recycling company to hand off non-sellable clothing, and might be willing to take a bag off your hands that does not require sorting.

3. Contact the manufacturer.

Some brands have begun accepting back their own worn clothing. This tends to be more common among outdoor gear retailers, such as Patagonia, REI, and The North Face, although a few other fashion brands offer it as well, including H&M, Levi’s, Eileen Fisher.

4. Send it somewhere useful.

The Blue Jeans Go Green program will accept your old denim via mail and turn it into insulation. Alternatively, you can drop it off at J.Crew, Madewell, rag and bone, and FRAME stores, all of which will give you a discount off a new pair of jeans. You can also print off a shipping label from Community Recycling and ship your old clothes in a box right from your doorstep.

Note: Be aware that many donation bins are labeled ‘clothing recycling’ when what they really mean is ‘clothing donation.’ It drives me crazy when organizations call themselves recyclers, when in reality they only want gently-used items in good condition. There’s a big difference.

5. Upcycle the fabric yourself.

There are countless DIY projects you can do with old clothes. I’ve compiled ideas for what to do with old jeans and old sweaters, but T-shirts are incredibly versatile as well. Turn them into sleeveless workout tops, halter tops, tote bags, quilts, pet bedding, and cleaning rags.

6. Try composting.

If you have all-natural cloth, such as cotton, wool, silk, cashmere, or linen, and have not used it to soak up any toxic liquids, then you can try composting it. Here’s a guide to doing it, via 1 Million Women. Must have patience!

While these steps are all worth pursuing, it would be naive to assume they can solve our planet’s enormous trash problem. What is needed more than wide-scale recycling is less consumption. There needs to be a shift to buying less and buying better, focusing less on ‘good deals’ and more on what will last and what can be repaired. When shopping for future items, support those few companies that are incorporating recycled material into their goods, since this is an effort worthy of support.

Did you know that the EPA estimates that textiles make up 5% of all landfills in the US?

Or that only 15% of unwanted clothing is actually recycled?

Or that the average US citizen throws away an estimated 70 lbs worth of textile waste annually?

When we think of waste, we often envision things like crushed up plastic water bottles, soiled food wrappers and dirty diapers – not a perfectly wearable pair of jeans that got thrown away just because they don’t fit anymore (raise your hand if you’re guilty).

Even in the case of an old stained t-shirt or pair of shredded underwear (like waaaay past the emergency-laundry-day underwear stage) there are plenty of textile recycling programs to keep even the most unwearable items out of landfills.

First and foremost, I’m a proponent of being a conscious consumer. Purchasing clothing you know you love and will wear often, or doing like I do, and purchasing clothing secondhand that is already in the waste stream. It’s a deeper issue than just finding solutions for what to do with all your old clothing – ultimately, the bigger solution is shifting our buy-what-you-want-for-cheap-and-then-toss-it culture, to one of buying what you love and what will last.

But, if you’ve got a giant bag full of Ed Hardy graphic tees and gaucho pants from your not-so-consciously-consuming days collecting dust in the back of your closet, here’s how to keep them out of the trash and out of your sight.

RESELL

“Recycling” clothing doesn’t necessarily mean only sending it to get shredded up and turned into something new. Recycling can simply mean passing items on to be used and loved by someone else.

If you’ve got items in great condition, and want to make a little extra cash, take them to a local consignment shop or thrift store, or try a trusted online reseller like Poshmark or thredUP.

If you want your clothing to live on, but don’t want to mess with reselling, donating your items to a local homeless shelter or community center in your town is an amazing option to help others while keeping your clothing out of landfills. First though, make sure there is an actual need for the clothing items you have before just dropping them off. Donating isn’t an excuse to just pawn your unwanted clothing onto someone else that also doesn’t want or need them.

Also, make sure to only donate items in good, wearable condition though. Don’t just use a clothing donation drop off as your “trash can” for your smelly old gym socks with holes in the toes. Though the practices vary between organizations, they might end up sending unwearable items to landfills, defeating the whole the purpose of why we’re here in the first place, right?

So what do you do with your items that just can’t even anymore? I recommend two options:

UPCYCLE

Old t-shirts, cotton dresses, jersey lounge pants, etc. make amazing cleaning cloths. If you don’t want to go out and buy reusable rags or washcloths, make your own!

Simply cut up old clothing into squares or rectangles (or pentagons, or hexagons, or whatever your shape of choice is) and clean your dirty ass apartment with your new nifty upcycled rags.

Already got rags on rags on rags?

RECYCLE

There are tons of amazing sustainable resources and organizations that will take your too-far-gone clothing, accessories and textile items, and repurpose them for other uses. Uses like making home insulation, pillow stuffing, car seat stuffing, and even “new” fabric made from recycled fibers.

Here are some great textile recycling programs and resources to help you recycle anything from socks, to athletic shoes, to bras, old fleeces and everything in-between:

Terracycle Fabrics and Clothing Zero Waste Box: Purchase a box to fill with clothing and fabric to ship to Terracycle to be repurposed.

The Bra Recyclers: An organization that will find a way to recycle, reuse or repurpose bras. You can find a drop-off station or mail old bras directly to them.

Council for Textile Recycling: Find clothing donation drop-offs and textile recycling resources all across the US. Keep in mind the donation suggestions might not recycle “unwearable” textiles. I recommend calling the individual recommended locations before making a drop-off.

GemText: Free textile recycling based in the Pacific Northwest.

Soles 4 Souls: A national shoe recycling program.

Green Tree: Free textile recycling drop-offs located at specific NYC farmers’ markets.

Wearable Collections: NYC-based clothing recycling pick up service.

Secondary Materials and Recycled Textiles: An online platform that will help you find the nearest textile recycling outlets near you.

H&M, Don’t Let Fashion Go To Waste – You can drop off your textiles from any brand, in any condition, at any H&M store globally and they’ll recycle it for you. I recommend calling ahead though to your local H&M before to double check and make sure store employees know you’re coming by.

Donation Town: A site that helps you find a local clothing donation pick-up service in your area.

Nike, Reuse-A-Shoe: Nike collects old athletic shoes from any brand that they grind up and use to create courts, fields, tracks and playgrounds.

Patagonia, Common Threads – Bring back your unwanted Patagonia clothing and accessories to any Patagonia store and they’ll recycle it and give you store credit!

The North Face, Clothes the Loop – Recycling clothing and shoes from any brand at North Face stores.

There are probably hundreds more I haven’t mentioned, but hopefully through one of these resources, you’ll be able to find a way to make sure none of your textiles ever end up in a landfill again – yep, even those ugly red MAGA hats. Hopefully those will be shredded up for car seat stuffing…

Because You Asked

Dear Recyclebank,

I send gently used clothing to the Salvation Army, but some things are just no longer wearable. What can I do?

-Helen M., Philadelphia, PA

Dear Helen,

There are plenty of ways to give your old clothing a second life if it’s too worn for the closet. Many textiles can be recovered and have their fibers broken down into insulation material, carpet padding, paper, yarn, and more. In fact, according to the EPA, roughly 14.4 percent of textiles from clothing were recovered for export or reprocessing in 2012.

Companies such as American Textile Recycling Services collect donations at drop-off locations and sort out too-worn clothing and other textiles for recycling. Participating Goodwill locations can also make use of clothing too damaged for them to sell, whether by selling it to salvage brokers or making it into industrial wipes. The Council for Textile Recycling maintains a clothing recycling locator that you can use to find facilities in your area.

No recycling options available near you? You can make use of the clothes closer to home. Salvage what fabric you can for craft projects, or cut the clothing down into your own reusable cleaning cloths. See if local schools need rags for art or shop classes, or if animal shelters can use the fabric for cleaning or as bedding. Cotton and other natural-fiber clothing can even be composted as long as they are not blended with synthetic fibers like polyester; make sure to shred it finely and remove attachments like zippers and buttons.

SOURCES: EPA.gov, SMARTasn, Goodwill, Grist

How To Recycle Clothes & Shoes That Aren’t In Good Condition

It would make life a lot easier if clothes lasted forever, but unfortunately, that’s not the case. After a lot of wear and tear and washing and drying, most clothing items start to get worn out, dirty, and just generally old-looking – not exactly something you want to keep wearing if you don’t have to. When it’s time to get rid of clothing, though, you really don’t want to throw it in a garbage bag as waste. Old clothing can, and should, be recycled and re-used, even if it’s not looking in its best. If the clothes are really beat up, you probably can’t donate them – most thrift shops won’t take them, and giving ripped up, filthy items to a charity isn’t advisable — so what should you do with them? You can still recycle clothes and shoes that aren’t in good condition, it just might take a little extra work, but it’s worth it, we swear.

The Council for Textile Recycling says that the United States generates an average of 25 billion pounds of textiles a year in the form of clothing, shoes, accessories and more, which comes out to about 82 pounds per person. 85 percent of that will end up in municipal landfills, which can add up to about 21 billion pounds of post-consumer textile waste. Do you really want to contribute to that? Hopefully not, but unfortunately, the amount of clothing we toss in the garbage is only increasing. In 2009, the Council estimated that we would generate more than 35 billion pounds of textile waste in 2019.

What makes these numbers even worse is that almost all clothes and shoes are recyclable, even though only about 15 percent of textiles produced every year are recycled. Don’t contribute to the wrong side of this! Learning how to recycle your clothing and shoes, even if they’re not in great condition, is an important contribution to our environment. Here are a few options on how to do so:

1. Look into textile recycling

Textile recycling might not be as easy as throwing the items into a bin, dragging it to the curb, and waiting for someone else to pick it up, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. Search for clothing recycling bins in your area, many of which will take clothing in any condition, and drop off your items for free. Companies like the American Textile Recycling Services collect donations at drop-off locations, then sort through everything. There are also plenty of websites, like Recycle Now, that help you find bins in your area.

2. Donate them to places that take old clothing

There are also certain donation spots that will actually take your super old clothing and get them recycled for you. Some Goodwill locations will also recycle clothing too damaged to sell. In fact, the LaPorte County Solid Waste District in Indiana says that only about 20 percent of the clothing donated to places like Goodwill and the Salvation Army even gets sold, while the rest is sold to textile recyclers. The companies get money for the clothing, and that money goes towards charities. Some go to foreign markets, while some end up being used for things like insulation and upholstery stuffing.

3. Talk to thrift shops

The above goes for thrift stores as well as charities like Goodwill and the Salvation Army. Thrift stores often get more donations than they need and they don’t just throw away the items they can’t use. While some thrift stores won’t take worn out clothing, some do — and they just recycle what they don’t use. If you regularly go into a thrift store or you’re familiar with one, go in and ask what their practices are. Be sure they aren’t just throwing them away.

4. Drop them off at stores that will help

There are even some big-name stores that will accept old clothes and help them get recycled. Levi Strauss & Co., H&M, and The North Face stores will take your old clothes and shoes fro you, recycle them, and even give you a reward for it. According to Clark, other stores with similar programs include American Eagle Outfitters and Eileen Fisher. Madewill also takes old denim and sends it to a green company that turns it into housing insulation.

5. See if they can be composted

According to RecycleBank, clothing made of cotton and other natural fibers can be composted, as long as they aren’t blended with synthetic fibers like polyester. To compost these, shred them finely and remove any attachments, like zippers or buttons.

6. Turn them into rags to use around your house

If you really don’t want to go out of your way to recycle your items or drop them off somewhere, you can recycle them yourself at home. Old clothing often makes great cleaning rags. Simply cut up the clothes and turn them into rags for dusting and cleaning – you’ll save money, keep your home clean, and reuse otherwise destroyed items.

7. Look up other textile recycling programs

There are so many more textile recycling programs out there than you’d think. To find them, you just need to do a little bit of research. Terracycle offers a Fabrics and Clothing Zero Waste Box that you can fill with clothing and fabric, then ship to Terracycle so they can repurpose it. Have old bras you don’t know what to do with? The Bra Recyclers takes old bras at drop-off stations or you can even mail them in to be repurposed or recycled. Soles 4 Souls is a national shoe recycling program for your old shoes. Nike also has a Reuse-A-Shoe program where they take old athletic shoes, grind them up, and use them to create courts, fields, tracks, and playgrounds.

Here’s what you can do with old clothes you can’t donate

There’s a pretty general rule of thumb when you’re thinking of donating old clothes to charity: would you give it to a mate?

If the answer is yes, then you could go right ahead and donate. If the answer is no, it’s probably not going to be worn by someone else just because you threw it in the donation bin.

Old socks and undies are probably in the “no” category.

So what do you do with items of clothing you can’t donate or give away?

Before you chuck it in the bin, where it will be collected for landfill, here’s a few options you might want to think of first.

Get in touch with a textile recycler

ABC’s War on Waste series found Australians are dumping 6,000 kilograms of clothing in landfill every 10 minutes.

We’re the second largest consumer of textiles in the world, per capita.

Instead of throwing away that T-shirt because it’s stained, or the four mismatched socks you’ve been keeping in your drawer, find out if there’s a local textile recycler who might be interested in taking them off you.

Planet Ark’s Recycling Near You initiative lists a bunch of organisations you can talk to about recycling textiles.

Although many organisations might only be interested in commercial quantities of textiles, some offer an at-home collection.

The recently-launched Australian Circular Textile Association hopes to provide a national take-back scheme to recycle old textiles like clothing.

Founder and director Camile Reed told Hack the scheme would need providers to come from commercial industries to be able to “support and facilitate textile recycling here in Australia”.

Camille says there’s a huge change from within the commercial fashion world towards a more sustainable industry.

“It’s very positive that they are having internal conversations about what best suits their goals and values going forward.”

Fashion labels offer donation bins

Some fashion retailers will also accept clothing donations in store.

H&M and Zara both offer donation bins as part of their environmental commitment. You can check whether your local stores stock a donation bin online.

Both brands accept unwanted clothes from any fashion label and in any condition.

Want to shop ethically?

These are the Australian fashion brands that aren’t up to scratch.

Camille says for the most part, H&M are recycling the clothes donated in their bins into new materials for other industries.

“Some are going to insulation, where it’s shredded and used as insulators,” she said.

“It can be felted – where it splits up into a fine fluff and can be compressed again to be used in the automotive industry, going into car bodies.

“They do use it as painters cloths and rags in labor industries. And they send a portion to charity partners in Europe and third world countries to make a profit from it, and they’d burn a certain about to turn from waste into energy, and then they’d send a portion to landfill.”

Like with any kind of clothing donation, you can’t be 100 per cent sure what happens to the materials.

Get crafty

Flex those creative muscles and turn your old clothes into artwork. Say there’s a pattern on an old shirt that you really like, but can’t donate because it’s ripped or stained.

Cut the pattern out and frame it or stretch it on a canvas. Or sew it on a cushion cover for your mum’s birthday.

Lace from underwear and lingerie is also a highly prized material you might be able to sell to a recycler or reuse on other clothing.

“If there’s a good square of printed or colorful fabric that’s in good condition, you can engage with a recycling partner who works with schools for scrap fabrics,” Camille said.

However you decide to recycle unwanted clothing, there are several options available that can be utilised before landfill. Sometimes though, there won’t be any other way to get rid of old socks and undies but the bin.

“As a consumer, we need to be more educated. It’s just a level of awareness where consumers don’t have to think ‘this is going straight into the bin'”, Camille said.

Valuable items you no longer need hang in your closet, waiting for a new life.

Charities and recyclers lust after your unwanted clothing and textiles. But old clothing isn’t like most other recyclable and reusable items. With all the variations in style, quality and condition, no two pieces of old clothing are the same. This presents challenges and rewards for textile recyclers as well as people getting rid of old clothes.

Q: I know I can donate clothes in good shape, but what about tattered items that can’t be resold in thrift stores?

A: Many clothing-collection programs now want virtually all textiles even if they are torn or stained. This includes clothes, accessories, shoes, linens, towels and curtains.

The best items get resold in stores, and charities send everything else they collect to recyclers. Processing operations around the world sort scrap clothing and textiles so they can be recycled into rags, stuffing, padding, insulation and other products.

Check with charity-collection programs directly because some may still only want donations of clothes they can resell to the public, to make their sorting easier. King County provides a partial list of collection options for consumers at seati.ms/Jn8cBH. A few cities, such as Issaquah, accept clothing and textiles in plastic bags in their curbside-recycling program.

Q: Which clothes and textiles can’t I donate?

A: Never donate wet or mildewed items, or textiles with paint or chemicals on them. One of the biggest challenges of donating clothes in the Northwest is keeping them dry. Use plastic bags when you take clothes to donation locations or when you put them on the porch for pickup. When storing clothes in your basement, use airtight-plastic containers to prevent moisture and mildew.

Q: What are the benefits of reusing and recycling textiles?

A: Donations of clothing and textiles fund charity programs and generate hundreds of thousands of jobs in the U.S. and globally. Reusing clothing conserves resources and reduces the use of pesticides to grow cotton.

Reducing textile waste can also extend the life span of landfills. More than 3 percent of all residential waste going into King County’s Cedar Hills Landfill in Maple Valley consists of clothing and textiles, not including carpet.

Q: How about some practical tips, to make sure charities or others get the highest benefit from my donated clothes?

A: If you haven’t worn something in two years, give it up. Swapping clothes with family members and friends is a fun way to save money, or you can sell your best unwanted clothes through consignment stores or at garage sales.

For charitable donations of clothing, choose an organization whose work you admire. Some charities partner with private companies who help collect or sell the donated items for a profit, so consider whether that makes a difference to you.

When a natural disaster occurs, don’t send disaster-relief agencies direct donations of clothing or blankets. They typically get overwhelmed with donated clothing and can’t effectively process it all.

Q: Don’t we buy and toss out a lot more clothes than we used to?

A: Absolutely. Twenty years ago, an average American bought fewer than 30 pieces of clothing per year, but today the average is about 60 items. Major retailers now commonly sell selected new clothing at prices so low, such as $3 for a T-shirt, that people might feel fine about wearing an item just a couple of times and getting rid of it.

Q: How can we reduce overconsumption of clothing and household textiles?

A: Spend a little more to buy higher-quality items that will last longer, which also makes them more desirable to charities when you donate them. Avoid impulsive clothing purchases. Buy clothes you can easily mix and match. Obsessively care for your favorite clothes to avoid shrinking or staining them.

Find clothes you love, possibly used clothes from a thrift store, and wear them well. But when your clothes outwear their welcome, don’t just leave them hanging.

Tom Watson is project manager for King County’s Recycling and Environmental Services. Reach him at [email protected], 206-296-4481 or www.KCecoconsumer.com. On Twitter @ecoconsumer.

Sainsbury’s issues reminder over clothing banks

Supermarket retail chain Sainsbury’s is reminding shoppers of the presence of charity banks for used-clothing at 340 of its stores, ahead of what it claims is a peak time for consumers to get rid of clothing.

Sainsbury’s claims that the annual ‘spring clean’ will see as many as 680 million items of clothing thrown away from UK homes.

Sainsbury’s has called on shoppers to make use of clothing banks

However, a study carried out by the retailer, in association with its charity partner Oxfam has highlighted some of the reasons people may not be likely to use existing clothing recycling schemes.

According to Sainsbury’s 49% of people surveyed said they did not think their clothes could be recycled because they were worn out or dirty, while 6% of people did not realise clothing could be recycled at all.

Donations

Paul Crewe, head of sustainability, energy, engineering and environment for Sainsbury’s, said: “If clothes go out with the rubbish, they’ll end up in landfill, so we’ve teamed up with Oxfam to help Britons become more charitable and environmentally savvy this spring. No matter if they’re worn out or grubby, we’re calling on shoppers to donate their unwanted clothes at recycling points in our stores across the UK – perfectly placed to fit into the nation’s everyday routine.“

According to Sainsbury’s, the retailer is the biggest single supplier of second-hand clothing for Oxfam shops and, in the last year it has helped recycle over 16.3 million garments, bringing in an estimated £3.6 million for the charity.

Oxfam pledges that 100% of items donated via Sainsbury’s will be reused, resold or recycled, meaning all items will be accepted regardless of quality.

The items are transported to the charity’s ‘Wastesaver’ plant in Batley, Yorkshire, suitable items will then be sold in Oxfam’s shops or sent to their social enterprise project in Senegal which creates jobs for disadvantaged women sorting and selling clothing.

Mr Crewe added: “While recycling is now common-place for things like paper and plastics, it’s often overlooked when it comes to our clothes. But we’re trying to fix that and now have 340 donation points at our stores, so our customers can spruce their wardrobe in the knowledge that their old items will be making a difference elsewhere.”

Oxfam

Fee Gilfeather, head of retail brand for Oxfam, said: “Many people still think that their unwanted clothes won’t make a difference to charities, but at Oxfam we can reuse or recycle almost anything. The items donated through Sainsbury’s raise millions, helping us continue our vital work to end extreme poverty around the world.

“For example, right now Oxfam is responding to the food crisis in East Africa, where 16 million people are facing terrifying food shortages. Oxfam is providing safe clean water, sanitation and food. This is life-saving work and your unloved clothes really can make a huge difference.”

TRA

Alan Wheeler, director of the Textile Recycling Association, has welcomed the campaign, but warned that clothing waste, instead of being seasonal, is now a ‘year-round’ problem.

Mr Wheeler said: “Whilst we actually collect around 650,000 tonnes of used clothing or textiles for re-use and recycling, various estimates suggest that we are throwing away anywhere between 400,000 and 500,000 tonnes.

“Whereas about 20 years ago, most fashion retailers had only two distinct fashion seasons in a year: Spring/Summer and Autumn/Winter, this has now all but disappeared and many fashion retailers are changing their clothing lines every few weeks.

“People are buying more clothing, more regularly and they are discarding their clothing all year round.”

According to Mr Wheeler the ‘vast majority’ of clothing discarded can be re-used or recycled.

“Charity shops are a great way of donating clothing that you no longer want,” he added. “If the charity cannot sell the clothing in their shops they will sell your items on to textile reclamation merchants such as those who are members of the Textile Recycling Association.

“The clothing that is suitable for re-use will be exported for resale into markets such as Sub-Saharan Africa or Eastern Europe.”

We throw away a ridiculous £12.5 billion worth of clothing every year, and the majority of that goes straight into landfill, according to new research from Vanish as part of its #LoveforLonger campaign.

In fact, over 50% of Brits admitted to throwing away perfectly wearable clothes. Over a quarter of items thrown away are discarded due to a simple stain (29%) – a quarter (23%) never even attempted to remove the stain because the item of clothing was cheap.

Brits throw away, on average, eight items a year, each worth approximately £24 – meaning the value of binned clothes amounts to an astonishing £192 a person! Other reasons Brits throw away wearable clothes include needing more space in their wardrobe (18%) and getting rid of clothes that belonged to an ex (10%).

If you’ve unearthed old clothes or textiles during a cupboard clear-out, don’t be too hasty to throw them out. Even clothes that seem unwearable may still have life left in them.

1. Zap stains
You may be able to give stained clothes a new lease of life with a little TLC. Before you part with an old favourite, it’s worth trying to tackle even tricky stains, such as lipstick, foundation or red wine, using our expert stain removal advice.

White shirts, towels and sheets that have gone grey over time or coloured items that have faded can be restored by adding 200g bicarbonate of soda to your load in the main drum. Combined with liquid detergent, it helps balance the pH levels to get clothes cleaner.

For shirts that have been tainted by old sweat stains, try mixing the juice from a lemon and an equal amount of water. Apply to the stained area and scrub in well with a nailbrush. Place in a sunny area and allow to dry – the lemon juice and sunlight are both good bleaching agents and will help fade the stain. Follow by washing as normal. Bear in mind, the older the sweat stain, the harder it is to remove.

For mystery stains, it’s best to first begin with a stain-removal method least likely to cause damage. For this, we suggest soaking the item in cold water and then soaking it in warm water with some liquid detergent, ideally biological. If the stain remains, treat with a proprietary stain remover following pack instructions.

2. Repair
With a few quick fixes up your sleeve, it’s possible to get more wear out of damaged clothes. A cotton bud dipped in olive oil or petroleum jelly can help loosen a stuck zip and fallen hems can quickly be fixed using iron-on hemming tape, such as Vilene Wundaweb Easy Hemming Tape (£3.25 for 5m from johnlewis.com). For rips and tears that you’re not confident tackling at home, contact your local dry cleaner to see if they can help.

MORE: 10 CLEVER FIXES FOR RUINED CLOTHES

3. Donate to charity
Clothes that you have managed to restore to a good, wearable condition but no longer want can be donated to your local charity shop. If you come across a garment that you’re not sure is suitable for sale in a charity shop, it’s worth popping it in with your donations anyway.

Most charity shops sell garments that aren’t fit to grace the clothing rails on the shop floor to textiles recycling merchants – so your shabbier clothes might still make money for charity. Some charity shops may collect bags of old textiles specifically to sell on for recycling. Contact your local shop directly to check. You can find all the charity shops in your local area using the Charity Retail Association online store locator.

MORE: BEST WASHING MACHINES – TRIED & TESTED

4. Recycle
Alternatively, check if your local authority collects textiles for recycling. If not, use the Recycle Now online Recycling Locator tool to find a textiles recycling bank near you.

5. Cleaning cloths
Pure cotton T-shirts and towels make great cleaning cloths. Use a pair of sharp scissors to cut them up into squares roughly 40 x 40cm in size and add them to your cleaning kit.

6. Reuse buttons
Don’t forget to snip buttons off garments that are damaged beyond repair before you bin them. They might come in useful when you next need to replace a fastening on an otherwise unwearable piece of clothing!

Why Recycle Shoes and Clothing?

Keeping up demands that we shop more than ever, leading to seriously overstuffed wardrobes. We can’t accommodate the excess so we throw it away — an average of 70 pounds per person annually.

Forget the garbage. While a few communities have textile recycling programs, about 85% of this waste goes to landfills where it occupies about 5% of landfill space and the amount is growing. Landfill space is expensive and hard to find.

Besides the clothing can be used again in one form or another. Discarding would be a waste, not just of the material itself, but of the water and energy that went into the manufacturing. Most textiles can be repurposed and the benefit of taking the time to recycle those items far outweighs the small inconvenience of putting such items aside for recycling. Fresh water is a dwindling resource and energy use contributes to global warming, the biggest environmental problem of our times.

Instead let’s get the full benefit of these resources by using the fabrics to death. (Source Material: nrdc.org/thisgreenlife)

Many items in your home can be recycled. For instance, old shoes, wallets, belts, purses, backpacks, hard toys, stuffed animals, caps and hats can be recycled as well as old clothes.

Benefits of Recycling Shoes and Clothing

Almost 100% of household textiles and clothing can be recycled, regardless of quality of condition. Recycling clothing and textiles benefits charities, reduces solid waste, and provides employment to Texans.

When Americans recycle their unwanted clothing and textiles, it provides three main benefits: funds charitable programs, reduces solid waste, and provides economic stimulus and employment here and abroad. Specific benefits include:

  • reduces solid waste in landfills
  • demonstrates sustainability and environmentalism, and reduces carbon footprint
  • creates economic development around the world
  • converts waste products into value-added products
  • provides employment to semi-skilled or marginally employable U.S. workers

While Americans are familiar with recycling of plastics, aluminum and other packaging, they may be less likely to understand the value of recycling all unwanted clothing and household textiles.

Consumers should not dispose of unwanted textiles or clothing in the garbage because almost 100% of it can be recycled. Yet consumers in the U.S. place almost half of their unwanted textiles and clothing in the trash, accounting for almost 5% of the solid waste stream.

  1. Avoid throwing out any textiles since even those that might be considered rags may have some use and value.
  2. Textiles, even biodegradable natural fibers, do not easily degrade under landfill conditions due to lack of sunlight and oxygen.
  3. Incineration contributes to air pollution.

(Source Material: Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service)

Textile Recycling By The Numbers

As a textile recycler, all the issues being addressed concerning recycling, recyclability, re-purposing, source reduction, etc.: have relevance to our industry. It is hoped through education and the cooperation of government agencies that the consuming public will recognize the need and importance of recycling discarded apparel into secondhand clothing. Acceptance of these definitions as a part of “recycling” will help encourage the maximum recycling of textile wastes and thus minimize the amount of material that goes into the waste stream.

Statistics collected by the Council for Textile Recycling indicate that on a national basis this industry recycles approximately 10 lbs. per capita or 1,250,000 tons of post-consumer textile waste annually. However, these 10 lbs. represent less than 25% of the total post-consumer textiles waste that is generated. According to the EPA’s 2009 study of the United States Generation of Solid Waste, textiles account for some 12.8 million tons of the solid waste stream. Per the same study, rubber, leather, and textiles make up 8.3% of municipal solid waste.

One of our goals here at World Wear Project is to increase the amount of textile waste that can be recovered and at the same time develop new uses and markets for products derived from post-consumer textile waste. Additionally, we are forging partnerships with non-profits and community organizations because sustainable income is vital to a modern charity, and recycling as an income is stream helps and affects so many people, while fulfilling social responsibilities.

  • since 2009, only 16.2% of textiles were recovered and kept out of landfills
  • about 61% of the clothes recovered for second-hand use are exported to foreign countries
  • we are able to recycle 93% of the waste we process without producing any new hazardous waste or harmful by-products
  • textile recyclers export 61% of their products, thus reducing the U.S. trade deficit
  • World Wear Project and its affiliates recycled 4.3 million pounds of shoes and clothing in 2010

(Source Material: Council for Textile Recycling and SMART)

We All Have An Impact

There is good news to be found in all these numbers. Almost half, 48%, of the post-consumer textile waste is typically sold to developing countries. It is through our industry’s efforts that the worlds poorest are clothed. Second-hand clothing is all that is affordable to an individual earning $200 annually. Industry members are capable of delivering a pair pants in clean, damage-free condition to the east coast of Africa for a $ .34 a pair and sweaters to Pakistan for $ .12 each — less than the cost of mailing a letter. These prices not only include the garment, but the cost of transportation as well.

We are able to do this because of our investment in equipment and facilities to process efficiently and economically the huge volume of material that is handled. Approximately 20% of the material processed becomes wiping and polishing cloths. Finally, 26% of this post-consumer waste is converted into fiber to be used in products similar in nature to those manufactured from pre-consumer textile waste.

Our goal is to increase the amount of textile waste that can be recovered and at the same time develop new uses, products, and markets for products derived from pre-consumer and post-consumer textile waste. Our aims are identical with EPA’s “overriding goals … to encourage the trends toward (1) increased use of recycled materials in products and (2) the increased recovery of material for recycling.

Members of the textile recycling industry are currently working to double the amount of post-consumer material that is being recovered. The textile products recycled today are mostly or entirely recyclable, and in most cases the are 100% recycled.

If your favourite t-shirt gets stretched, do you throw it away?

You probably shouldn’t. According to the Council for Textile Recycling, 21 billion pounds of textile waste reaches America’s landfills each year. Most of this can be reused or recycled. By filling up these landfills with unwanted clothing, we’re doing some serious damage to the environment.

Fortunately, there are many ways to declutter your wardrobe without harming the environment. There are a number of things you can do with your unwanted clothing instead of simply throwing it away. These tips can help you reduce your impact on the environment.

1. Try to mend your garments.

Image description: A close-up of someone sewing green fabric with a sewing machine. Via Unsplash.

We often throw out items that aren’t unwanted but broken.

I go through black leggings really fast. Literally, my inner thighs rub together when I walk, causing little holes at the seams. While I always just want to throw them away, that would be awful for the environment – so instead, I try to sew them up.

Most of us want to throw items away as soon as we spot a hole, but mending clothes can save money and the environment.

If you’re not great at sewing, you can learn by watching some YouTube videos – seriously, it’s a skill that will help you after the zombie apocalypse. Otherwise, find a friend or family member that can sew, or hire a local seamstress or cobbler!

2. Upcycle your items – or use it in other ways.

Image description: Patterned green and blue fabric is laid out in squares on a flat surface. It looks like it will be made into a quilt. Via Wikimedia Commons.

Sometimes, things can’t be mended. Stains, for example, might tempt you to throw out a shirt. A stained T-shirt is a perfectly good pyjama top, and a large button-up shirt can protect your clothes when you paint or dye your hair.

You can also upcycle clothes to create other items. In my house, ripped clothes were always used as rags for cleaning. In high school, we all constantly lost our hairbands, and we often ripped the stockings we wore with our uniforms – so we cut the legs of our ripped stockings into strips, creating instant hair elastics that didn’t damage our hair. Pretty fabrics can be upcycled into hairbands, quilts, or rag rugs. Torn jeans can be transformed into bags or purses. Holey towels, scarves, blankets, and jerseys can make your pet’s bed cozier.

3. Recycle damaged clothing.

Image description: Two bins, one with a recycling symbol on it, stand outside. Via Public Domain Pictures.

Sometimes, clothing is too damaged to fix or give away. What happens then?

Many people don’t realize this, but many materials are compostable or recyclable. For example, you can compost 100% cotton clothing. If it’s underwear, make sure to cut off the elasticated part before throwing it in the compost.

Not all fibers are biodegradable, but most of your clothes and accessories can be recycled and repurposed. Find out if there’s a textile recycling plant or drop-off point near you.

4. Donate your unwanted clothing.

Image descriptions: The interior of a thrift store, full of clothing and accessories. Via Unsplash.

Of course, giving your clothes away is always an option – especially if your clothes are in good condition. When it comes to donating clothes, you have a few different options:

Donate it to friends or family. This is often the most convenient option since you might know their size, taste, and the sorts of clothes they want and need.

Donate it to people looking for those specific items. I live in a relatively small town where people often use our town’s Facebook group to look for help. Often, people post asking for clothing for fundraisers, for safe houses, or for families who’ve lost their possessions. If you have a similar online community, ask if anyone could use your clothes. The jacket you outgrew could be perfect for an unemployed person going to a job interview, and your old prom dress could be donated to a high-school student who can’t afford to buy their own. It’s helpful here to specify the sizes and styles (casual, formal, pyjamas, activewear, etc.) so that it can reach people who really need it.

Donate it to a charity store. While many stores often welcome new stock, stores often receive more clothes than they can possibly sell. Most stores take stock that they can’t sell to a textile recycling plant where the items can be reused and repurposed. Either way, charity stores and thrift shops are great

5. Sell or swap your clothing.

Image description: Someone looks through accessories laid out on a table at a market. Via Pexels.

If your unwanted clothing is in great condition and you could use the money, selling your clothing is always an option! You might want to try using Facebook buy/swap/sell groups or visiting a local second-hand store. If you have a lot of clothing, consider a garage sale or joining a local market for the day.

Another option is to have a clothes-swapping party with your friends, neighbors or community. Clothing exchanges are a great way to socialize while replacing your unwanted goods with new, exciting clothes. Create a Facebook group, tell everyone to bring their clothes, and set up little tables. Allow everyone to bargain and swap their items.

Whether you’re moving, clearing out your wardrobe, or changing your style, your unwanted clothing can be repurposed and reused. Decluttering responsibly is one of the many ways we can have a positive impact on the environment.

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Aside from two pairs of jeans, and some maternity things, I haven’t bought new clothes in 9 years. It’s not really that I’m SO frugal (although let’s be honest – I am!) It’s more that I really hate clothes shopping. So when I say that I’ve been purging my closet, folks who know me well find it a little amusing.

What they don’t know is what’s in my closet.

Y’all, I am finally facing the truth that if something hasn’t fit me since 1999 – it’s probably not going to fit me again any time soon. Or, you know, ever. It’s time to let some things go. I do go through our closets and do a good purge about once a year, but this time around, it’s a doozy.

When you pull clothing out of your closet that you never wear, do you ever find yourself a little bit paralyzed, as you try to figure out what to do with it all? I used to. Enough that I just never got rid of anything!

In recent years, though, I’ve come up with a simple little “flowchart” of questions that I ask myself about each item that I (or my kids) don’t wear any more. This helps give me some quick clarity about what to do with it, and brings a lot more efficiency to the purging process. I also feel like it helps me get the most joy out of what I’m purging. As I’m going through the closet, whenever I find an article of clothing that I just don’t wear, here are the five questions I ask:

1. Would I wear it if I altered it?

For example, this winter I realized I own three really lovely wool sweaters that I just never wear. One of them I’ve owned since I was 12, and I’m pretty sure it’s been 20 years since I last wore it. The reason I don’t wear each of these sweaters is the same – the neck lines are restrictive and SO DANG SCRATCHY. I finally gave myself permission to trim back the necklines, and do a simple little darn around the edges so the stitches wouldn’t fray. Do they look perfect? NOPE. But now that the scratchy necklines don’t make me crazy, I’ve been wearing them all winter.

I’ve done similar things by turning boxy t-shirts into garden-friendly tank tops, and cutting oddly-fitting pants into cut-off shorts. My perspective is that even if most folks might think I’m “ruining” a perfectly good piece of clothing – if I’m putting something useful back into my wardrobe, it’s a win.

2. Would someone I know be blessed by this?

If no easy alteration would make it so I’d wear an article of clothing again, my next question is whether it might be a blessing to anyone I know. Do I have a pregnant friend that could use the forgotten maternity shirts I just found hiding behind my wool skirts? Is something so small I’ll never wear it again – but in a few more years it’ll be adorable on my daughter? These are the things I give away, or save in a stash for Izzy when she’s older.

3. Does it have resale value?

If I’m not altering it, or giving it to a friend, my next question is whether I can get a little something for it. If something is in great shape, and seems like it could easily be re-sold, I’ll iron it, put it on my dressmaker’s form, and take some great pictures. Ebay and Facebook swap & sell groups are my go-to places for reselling clothes (I’ve found maternity, kids clothes, and cloth diapers to be categories that move easily!) I’ve also had friends do well with Poshmark, or even just taking clothing to consignment shops.

4. Would it make a great costume?

We take dressing up very seriously around here. A well-stocked costume chest is a glorious thing. If a piece of clothing has fallen through those first three questions, my next one is whether it has absolutely fantastic costume potential. If the answer is yes – into the costume chest it goes.

5. Is it in good enough condition to donate?

Not gloriously costume-worthy, or in perfect enough condition for re-selling? Or perhaps it just falls into a category of clothing that’s not in high resale demand? In that case, I box those items up and take them to the Salvation Army. First I lay them all out on a bed and take a quick snapshot (I do this in batches if there are lots of items), so that I have a photo to go with my donation receipt. Any non-profit that takes used clothing will be able to give you a receipt, to acknowledge your donation for tax purposes. I like to immediately log my donation into Turbo Tax’s It’s Deductible platform, so it’s all there waiting for me at tax time. They even have an app to make it super easy! Since I’m self-employed, and we have a working farm, and our taxes are complicated any way, I find it’s absolutely worth my time to take donations into account. It makes a difference!

If none of the above: chop it up for re-purposing here at home!

If something has made it past the gauntlet of those 5 questions, and does not seem in good enough condition to donate, I never throw it away. It gets used for something here in our home. Whether it be as quilting squares, or strips for braiding into a rug, or even just a lowly cleaning rag – everything gets one more use when we’re done wearing it.

For me, I’ve found that the key to castoff clothing actually finding a life as something useful (and not just turning into a tumbling-over pile of old clothes stuffed into the sewing closet), is to go ahead and chop the article down into usable parts right away.

WOOL gets felted up (with the process described in this post), and taken apart to store flat. I use felted wool for making mittens, beanbags, in folk-style applique, and even just as dish scrubbies.

BUTTONS and GOOD ZIPPERS get carefully removed and added to the button tin or zipper stash.

T-SHIRT & SWEATSHIRT MATERIAL gets cut into strips for making rugs.

GOOD FABRIC (Anything I’d make a quilt, apron, or even a potholder with) gets taken apart to store flat. (Odd little bits like collars and wrists usually make it to the trash at this point)

ANYTHING LEFT (hopelessly stained onesies, ratty old towels, t-shirt sleeves…) gets cut into rags for the rag baskets. I don’t buy paper towels, so we use rags for all our cleaning, and having plenty of “good rags” on hand is a wonderful thing!

This is the system that’s been working well for me. I hope you find it helpful, when deciding what to do with clothes you don’t wear! If you really want to purge your closet, but you’re having a hard time letting go of unworn clothes (much less deciding what to do with them!) I highly recommend this excellent post from Melissa, over at Simple Lionheart Life. She talks about reasons we hold onto clothes we don’t wear – and how to move past those reasons. I think it’s a very freeing and motivating little read, and bet you might find it as helpful as I did!

Happy purging! ; )

Read Next: Set Up a Mending Basket That Works for YOU

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Clothes are an essential part of our everyday lives. Whether you always want to look your best, or you simply need something to wear, you can’t get very far if you don’t have clothes on. Unfortunately, things get torn, or we lose interest in them, and then they have to go. Rather than just throw your old clothes in the bin, though, there are plenty of alternatives that will free some space in your closet without letting everything go to waste.

If your clothes are still in a reasonable condition, it might be worth donating them. After all, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. You may not like that shirt or dress anymore, but someone else might. Plus, by donating your clothes, you’re doing a good deed. It’s a great way to help out people struggling with money who can’t afford to go on a shopping spree and buy whatever they want.

Sell them

Alternatively, you could sell the clothes you don’t want anymore. If they’re in good condition and were things you spent a lot of money on, it could be worth testing the waters online to see if anyone will bite. Obviously, you should charge a lower price than what you bought them for, but you could still net yourself a nice wad of cash for your old clothes. There are plenty of online marketplaces for this kind of thing now too, so you shouldn’t have too much trouble getting your threads out there.

Re-use them

People are quick to get rid of the clothes they don’t want anymore, but they don’t realize these things have so many practical uses. Even if a shirt is stained or ripped, it can still come in handy. Maybe you could wear it for things like painting where you’re likely to get messy. That way, it doesn’t matter what condition they’re in or whether they look good on you anymore. All that matters is that they stop you ruining the clothes you actually like.

Upcycle them

On the other hand, you could always upcycle your old clothes and turn them into something else entirely. It’s amazing how creative you can get with the materials; you just need an open mind and a basic understanding of sewing. From simple things like scrunchies and pet blankets to more complicated creations like handbags or quilts, your closet could be a treasure trove of DIY designs.

Recycle them

If you believe it’s truly the end of the line for your clothes, at least see if you can recycle any of them. It’s good to help the environment when you can, so take some time to dispose of your unwanted shirts and underwear properly. You might need to cut up certain things to make them recyclable, but what’s a bit of extra effort when the world is at stake?

The next time you’re holding your unwanted clothes over a bin, take a second to think if this is really what you should be doing. There are so many ways to get rid of your unwanted items without simply throwing them away.