We've all got a ton of clothing hanging in our closets that we never wear, you know what I am talking about! They either don't fit but we can't part with them or we've just lost interest and have no idea what to do with them. Well, getting rid of your clothing responsibly is easier than you think and in this blog, we'll take a deep dive into What To Do With Your Clothing Donations.
How to get your stuff ready to donate?
If you are decluttering make a garbage pile and put the appropriate items in the garage. The only things you should be donating are things that the donations center will accept, this ensures those items get a second life. Donation bins are not for your garbage. It's a good practice to call and ask what they are accepting.
Also check to see if certain items you are throwing out, can be recycled. Check with your local municipality and do some homework before you recycle anything. And an important reminder, textiles and clothing cannot be recycled in most places in Canada and the USA, if you place textiles and clothing in the recycling bin it will contaminate it and all of the items in that bin will be sent to a landfill.
What to do with your clothing donations?
Not all your clothing will get a second chance when you drop it off.
Donating your unwanted clothing
Donation centers and stores like Value Village or the Salvation Army will also sort and bale items that will be sent to textile recycling centers or in some cases to developing nations.
Some developing nations have stopped accepting hand-me-downs while others like Uganda do. In fact, second-hand clothing now accounts for more than 80% of all clothing purchases in that country.
When donating keep these things in mind:
- Make sure the clothing is clean and not moldy.
- Tie matching shoes together, either with the laces or by wrapping an elastic band around the pair. This is really important. Staff does not have time to sift through all your bags to find the matching pair.
Also consider donating winter coats, boots, and even business suits to local homeless shelters. Call them before you go to ensure they need what you are gifting.
Upcycle your old clothing
This is not for everyone, I realize that. I can't sew to save my life but I can find fun ways to use old things. Towels can be cut up and used as cleaning cloths or used to create a zero-waste mop. Wondering what to do with old socks? You can repair them, compost them and even reuse them! And if you have old bras and undies lying around, we've got a whole guide on how to get rid of them the right way!
Old sweaters can be turned into the cutest mittens ever. You can take an old pair of jeans and make a handbag. An old worn t-shirt can be turned into produce bags that you can use to shop at a zero-waste store.
Sell or swap your old clothes
Also, think about swapping items with others in your community. Here is a great video on how to host your own clothing swap. Not only is this good for the planet, but it's also so much fun too! I have so many cute dresses thanks to this.
You can also sell your used clothing online it's another way to get rid of your old clothes and make some cash at the same time. I love to shop at thrift stores and so many of them also allow you to sell online.
Mend your clothes
In 2019 a study came out that found most people feel they don't have the skills to mend and repair their clothes, it's one of the main reasons why so much clothing gets thrown out. Older people tend to be more inclined than the younger generation to do this and I think that's party due to the fact that clothes are so cheap and easily replaceable. They are undervaluing their clothes and that needs to change.
Compost your old clothes
Make sure you take off the bits that won't break down, zippers, buttons, tags, etc. Cut it up into really small pieces to help them break down faster. Clothing made from synthetic material cannot be compacted or recycled, so best to find new ways to use or donate them.
Can you donate your old clothes via mail?
- The North Face has a program called Clothes the Loop where they will take back used shoes and apparel from any brand. You will get a $10 discount to spend later.
- Patagonia's take-back program is called Worn Wear, they take back used clothing and gear and either repair or recycle it.
- Pact Give Back Wear Forward takes gently used items and donates them to charities.
What To Do With Old "Non-donatable" Clothes, Shoes, Accessories?
This is a really important part of the equation. For this, I turned to my good friends at Eco-Stylist, for a little more information. Here’s what Eco-Stylist writer Emma Morgan had to say.
At Eco-Stylist, recycling and repurposing our clothes is just as important as where we purchase them. Disposal is a vital consideration in a life cycle assessment of our clothes — where they start and where they end up — which supports a healthy fashion industry. This means we are constantly searching for the best ways to improve how we sustainably dispose of our non-donatable clothes, shoes, and accessories. Below we’ve shared some of the best ways how.
What To Do With Old Clothes and Shoes That Cannot Be Donated?
Not all of our items can be donated or resold — think underwear and socks, torn clothing, worn-through or falling apart shoes. Our first thought might be to toss them in the garbage, because who really wants a used pair of underwear, a ruined shirt, and broken shoes? This is the thought process that contributes to the 26 billion pounds of clothing that end up in landfills every year.
The trash is the last place we should dispose of clothing and shoes that cannot be donated. Not only is it wasteful, but it also has a negative impact on the environment. Instead, the better option is recycling clothing and shoes that cannot be donated.
Recycling old clothing and shoes is made easy with websites like Earth911, Give Back Box, USagain, and Soles 4 Souls. Check them out to find drop-off locations near you, or use their free shipping labels to pack a box and mail your recycled textiles.
What To Do With Old Clothes Hangers?
Clothes hangers may be something we neglect to consider when we think of disposing of old clothes. 85% of all hangers end up in landfills — 8 billion in the US every year.
Reusing or repurposing hangers can be a fun craft, but if you need to get rid of them, you should always try to recycle or donate hangers.
When recycling, first check with your local recycling program to see if they accept metal, velvet, plastic, or wood hangers. When donating, you can see if local dry cleaners take hanger donations or search online for local shelters that accept hanger donations to help someone in need.
What To Do With Old Maternity Clothes?
The short time maternity clothes are of use can make the expense difficult to justify. This is a good reason why you should not only consider buying secondhand in the first place but also donate your maternity clothes or consider giving to friends who are also planning on becoming pregnant.
Large organizations like Goodwill accept maternity clothes and are a great place to donate, but there are many other options to consider. For example, United Way and First Option Care both have programs aimed specifically to help soon-to-be families. Both United Way and First Option Care have locations across the country; use their websites to find donation dropoff locations near you.
A final word on what to do with your clothing donations
Did you know we have a ton of guides here on The Eco Hub that will help you get rid of your old stuff responsibly including: