Clothing Recycling

Did you know the average American throws away 70lbs of textiles per year? The fact that only 15% of unwanted clothing is actually recycled is a huge part of the problem. There are a few different options when it comes to unwanted or worn-out clothing depending on the condition. We will break them each down and help you decide how to responsibly get rid of your unwanted clothing and accessories.

When you have clothes you no longer need and want to get rid of, the first thing you should do is sort and separate your clothing that you no longer want into three categories.

  1. Resell
  2. Donate
  3. Recycle

Reselling Old Clothing

Maybe these items no longer fit but are in great shape, or you could be downsizing and these are no longer your style. Make one pile for all unwanted clothing that is in good to excellent condition. Maybe it was even a gift that you just can’t see your self ever wearing and are unable to exchange or return. These clothes could make you some extra spending cash and save someone else some money on clothes they want or need. Even if you don’t need the extra cash, but really who couldn’t use some, remember that this saves other people from buying more brand new clothes. Reselling for cash is great for the environment too.

You can resell your items one of two ways, either locate a local consignment or thrift store or sell old clothes online through sites such as Poshmark, ThredUp, eBay, or specialized apps and sites like Kidizen for kids clothes…obviously. If you go the consignment route you should give them a call first as most require you to set up an appointment. For the online route, you simply snap some pics, decide on a price, and post your listing.

Yet another option is a clothing swap. These are very popular for children’s clothing. It also works with a group of friends who wear similar sizes. A community can organize a central meetup location and bring clothes no longer needed and swap for things you want or need. This is a great way to give new life to your clothes, keep them out of landfills, and pick up some “new to you” clothing for yourself or your kiddos.

If you just don’t want to mess around with posting and listing and shipping, and your clothes still have some life left in them you can also donate clothing to many different charitable organizations. There are many places to donate clothes including local shelters, Goodwill Donation centers, drop boxes, and local churches. Some of the best places to donate clothes include your local thrift stores like Savers or Goodwill. Here your items will be sorted and priced then sold second hand. Usually, the proceeds are used to fund the charity in a variety of ways. Another option is contacting a local women’s shelter or homeless shelter and see if they are accepting donations. Business garments are in high demand for these organizations and can be very helpful for those in need. Make sure the donation items are still useable and not too worn out, if not they could be tossed in the trash and end up in a landfill which is what we’re trying to avoid in the first place.

Clothes Recycling Bins Near Me

If your clothing or textiles are too worn to donate you can still keep them out of landfills through recycling. Clothing recycling drop bins are located inside some popular retailers such as H&M and American Eagle Outfitters. Some retail stores will even reward for participating in their textile recycling and sustainability efforts. For example, recycle any clothing at Levi’s stores and receive a 20% off a single item coupon, H&M also rewards you with a coupon to use on your next visit. These companies are doing their part to make recycling easier and keep more out of our overburdened landfills so it also feels good to do your shopping at these stores and show support for their efforts.

So, what about unwanted fabric or ripped clothes…even socks? They certainly are not worthy of reselling or even donation, but they can still be recycled. There may be a collection bin in your local shopping center or mall, any type of fabric, clothing or textile is accepted here as long as it is not too large. Another possibility is through your city or county. You can check if they are having a collection event soon or some schools do clothing drives and quality is not an issue as they are paid per pound and the collected items are sent to a recycler. Terracycle also has Fabric and Clothing Zero Waste boxes available which are super convenient.

Yet another idea is upcycling. Many clothing items can be cut into cleaning rags to use at home and decrease your use of paper towels (which are not recyclable).

Clothes Recycling FAQs

What to do with old shoes?

Old shoes should be donated if at all possible. Shelters or non-profit organizations usually accept donated shoes. Another option for athletic shoes is Nike’s Reuse-a-shoe program. Simply drop your athletic shoes off at any Nike store, they accept all brands, but not sandals or boots, dress shoes, or shoes with any metal. They will probably recycle them into new products.

What to do with old eye glasses?

It is not too often we replace our eyeglasses, but keep in mind that glasses of any type are happily accepted through charitable organizations. It’s also pretty easy to find a drop off location considering the list of stores that accept glasses:

LensCrafters, Sears Optical, Pearle Vision, Salvation Army, and Goodwill. Also your local Lion’s Club organization as well. There may even be a dropbox at your own Optometrist office or public school.

What to do with old t-shirts?

If your old t-shirts are worn out and in bad shape, you can cut them up into rags to use for cleaning. If you’re crafty you can find dozens of fun ideas on Pinterest or online for creating a new life for your old clothes.

Does Goodwill take bras?

Goodwill donation guidelines differ depending on location so you will need to check with your local store. Another option for bras is The Bra Recycler which accepts all types of bras including sports, maternity, and nursing bras. Simply wash your items, request a postage-paid label and send your items in.

What happens to clothing when it’s recycled?

First textile recyclers sort the clothing by color and material type, then it is shredded into fibers, in order to make fiberfill or stuffing. Some fabrics are cut down and sold as rags, and some are made into bales and sold by weight.

What to do with old pillows?

While technically not clothing, this question comes up a lot. One place that may gladly accept your old pillows is your local animal shelter. Old pillows and blankets are great for bedding. Another option is, of course, a textile recycling center or something like a Terracycle recycling box.

Recycling Center Near Me