You’ve probably faced the issue of doing a closet clean out, and having bags of clothing in varying states of disrepair; from new with tags, to this-is-my-painting-shirt, and not knowing what to do with them. You’re done wearing them, but what now?
Repurpose > donate > compost > recycle > trash
Repurpose clothes when...
It has non repairable damage that can be removed or hidden.
You can’t donate it.
If it has sentimental value.
These make perfect for t-shirt pillows & blankets!
Looking for some ways to repurpose your old clothing? Pintrest has an incredible depth of reuse ideas from children’s clothes, to rugs, to stuffing to memory blankets and pillows.
Donate or resell clothes when...
It is in good condition and free of damage.
If it is less than 5 years old or a classic style or iconic item.
As you might’ve learned from our Learn section, the majority of donated clothing gets thrown away or recycled or donated to developing communities, which ends up hurting their local economies. So while donated may feel great or count as a tax write-off, consider if your doing good or just feeling good (you can be doing both!).
Remember, you can buy from online used stores, and you can sell on them! See our Buy section to see a list of online secondhand retailers. Some even send you bags to make the shipping process easier.
Where to donate
Where to resell
Compost your clothes if…
The clothes are made entirely of natural fibers. This include the tags and any printing on it. Most cheap clothing with printing on it use a PVC based print, so when it doubt, cut it out. Throw away the part with the print (or cut off the probably-polyester tags) in the trash, and compost the rest. Please also check that the item is 100% natural fibers. Most clothing with natural fibers are blended with synthetics to add stretch or make them cheaper. If you’re not sure, reuse it or trash it instead of polluting the compost.
Compostable natural fibers:
Rayon (Viscose, tencel, modal)
Recycle your clothes when...
You can’t donate them. For example, if they’re too out of date or have damage.
You don’t need, want, or can’t repurpose them.
As of right now, clothing can not be put into street-side recycling, and most cities do not have other infastructure for recycling clothing, which sucks, because it means a lot of material goes into landfills. Some cities do have true recycling systems, but you’ll have to do your own research to see if you cities have a textile recycling program. If not, these items need to be trashed as well.
You might see bins in parking lots like USAgain, which say recycling on them, but they are donation systems run by for-profit organizations that resell clothing in other countries; just like what happens to clothing after they sit in a Goodwill for too long. They are not recycling however they do offer a great option for donating clothing and shoes.
Throw away clothes if and only if you can't repurpose, donate, or recycle them.
This section is a little light, we know. More information is coming soon! If you have anything to add, please email us email@example.com