How, Why, & Where To Recycle Your Clothes

Where To Recycle Your Clothes Featured Image

Alright friends, we are getting practical with this week's post. This week we are all about how, why, & where to recycle your clothes. Because if there is anything that drives me absolutely MF nuts about the fashion industry, it's how wasteful it can be.

The wastefulness of the industry is actually one of the biggest reasons I decided I didn't want my own fashion line.

Because when you go to fashion school, the ultimate goal that is drilled into every fashion design student is the dream of having your own line. Which absolutely, 100% works out for a lot of designers.

As Amy Poehler says: "Good for her! Not for me."

But I really do love how the industry is starting to change, especially with the smaller labels. One of my girlfriends, who runs the line Vesta (you have seen me wear her pieces many, many times) is working with a factory here in the US that makes the clothing only after it is ordered by a customer.

So there is literally no wasted clothing involved. The only pieces that are produced are those that have actually been paid for and ordered.

(Sewing your own clothing is also an excellent way to repurpose & recycle your old clothes. But first, you will need a sewing kit! Grab your printable worksheet on how to build a sewing kit below, and start sewing today.) How, Why, & Where To Recycle Your Clothes: How To Build A Sewing Kit Where To Recycle Your Clothes: The How, Why, & Where

Traditionally, clothing companies place massive orders with sewing factories, months before the items are released for sale. And there is no guarantee that the pieces will actually sell.

If they don't, then the companies are just left with the pieces that no one wants to buy. WASTEFUL. And it drives me batshit, thinking about all that wasted clothing.

Having worked retail for many, many years earlier in my life, I have seen the waste up front and personal. (BTW: I actually wrote a post last year about WHY fast fashion is so terrible. If at all interested in this topic, make sure to check it out.)

Anyways. How, why, & where to recycle your clothes.

With the holidays finally past us, and spring rapidly approaching, I thought it would be a good idea to write a post about where to recycle your clothes. Because I feel like spring cleaning is such a massive endeavor, and one that always, always involves getting rid of old clothing.

And I feel like a lot of us don't actually know WHERE to recycle our clothes, and just automatically say "I'll take it to Goodwill." But there are so so many other options out there, options that I think are so much better than just going to Goodwill. (That's a whole other story though.)

But first, let's get into the HOW and the WHY.

(Sewing your own clothing is also an excellent way to repurpose & recycle your old clothes. But first, you will need a sewing kit! Grab your printable worksheet on how to build a sewing kit below, and start sewing today.) How, Why, & Where To Recycle Your Clothes: How To Build A Sewing Kit

How, why, & where to recycle your clothes: The HOW

Where To Recycle Your Clothes: The How

I feel like this one is pretty much a given. There are two main ways in which you can recycle your clothes:

  1. Donate them: Literally just donating your old clothes to some sort of organization, charity, or store.
  2. Resell them: There are plenty of secondhand shops out there that will pay you for your old clothing. (Whether it's cash or store credit depends on the particular shop.)

Of course, physically taking your clothing somewhere to donate or resell takes some effort. It requires you to gather all of the clothing together and drive it somewhere.

And no, it isn't as easy as throwing it all into a trash bag.

But please, please don't ever do that again. I myself have been guilty of this, and I am a bit ashamed of it. Now, I haven't ever thrown away BAGS of clothing. But I have just tossed a pair of old leggings that had holes all in them, or some dish towels that were like 5 years old.

Doesn't seem like a lot, right? Or like it could be recycled? WRONG.

And that is what I have learned with my research on where to recycle your clothes: Pretty much any textile can be recycled. So don't just throw it away!

(Sewing your own clothing is also an excellent way to repurpose & recycle your old clothes. But first, you will need a sewing kit! Grab your printable worksheet on how to build a sewing kit below, and start sewing today.) How, Why, & Where To Recycle Your Clothes: How To Build A Sewing Kit

How, why, & where to recycle your clothes: The WHY

Where To Recycle Your Clothes: The Why

Oh, the why. I could seriously list out like 5,000 reasons on why you should recycle your clothes. But I will really just give you the big one, the only one you should really need: To be a less wasteful human being.

As of September 2018, approximately 15 million tons of used textile waste was generated each year in the United States ALONE. And 85 PERCENT of those used textiles were going to landfills. Which is absolutely batshit insane.

And those figures are only in the United States alone. Thinking about worldwide textile waste literally hurts my brain, and my heart.

Do you really need another reason to recycle your clothes?

I think not contributing to that 15 million tons of waste figure should be enough, right? I know that it is so easy to slip into that mentality: "I'm just one person, how can I make a difference?" But you can. YOU CAN.

An average American throws away 80 POUNDS of clothing in a year. (Which is also insane. I don't think I even own 80 pounds of clothing.) Just think--If you stopped throwing away your clothing, that's 80 pounds less that is going to a landfill each year. Over a span of just 10 years, that's 800 pounds that isn't going into a landfill. That is almost half a ton of clothing.

So yes, you CAN make a difference. And by encouraging clothing & textile recycling to friends and family, they can make a difference. Together, we can change the cycle.

(Sewing your own clothing is also an excellent way to repurpose & recycle your old clothes. But first, you will need a sewing kit! Grab your printable worksheet on how to build a sewing kit below, and start sewing today.) How, Why, & Where To Recycle Your Clothes: How To Build A Sewing Kit

WHERE to recycle your clothes: Donation organizations

Where To Recycle Your Clothes: Donation Organizations

You are convinced now, right? No more throwing clothing away, only recycling. Recycle, recycle, recycle. If looking to just donate your clothing, I have included a list below of some national organizations that take donations.

Of course, there might be smaller organizations specific to where you live that also take donations, so make sure to check those out too before deciding where to ultimately take your used clothing. If looking for donation specific organizations, check out the following:

  • Dress For Success: DFS is an organization looking for professional clothing for women. Donation locations are spread throughout the United States.
  • Vietnam Veterans of America: VVA is active in almost every state, and will even pick up boxes of items. On their site it says that they especially need clothing: Men's, women's, children's, etc.
  • United Cerebral Palsy's Thrift Stores: I believe this organization is specific to San Diego, but I know it can't be the only one out there! Not only do they take clothing, but they take a wide variety of household items for donation.
  • The Salvation Army: I particularly love the Salvation Army because proceeds from items sold at the Family Stores help to fund their Adult Rehabilitation Centers, which are centers that help adults dealing with addiction get back on their feet.

Donation Town is also an excellent site to use, if looking for donation specific organizations. (i.e. An organization that will take that formal dress you wore the one time to your best friend's wedding.) Many of the organizations will even pick up the goods from your home!

(Sewing your own clothing is also an excellent way to repurpose & recycle your old clothes. But first, you will need a sewing kit! Grab your printable worksheet on how to build a sewing kit below, and start sewing today.) How, Why, & Where To Recycle Your Clothes: How To Build A Sewing Kit

WHERE to recycle your clothes: Store brands

Where To Recycle Your Clothes: Store Brands

Not only are there organizations out there taking clothing donations now, but store brands are also starting to take donations. This was news to me on doing the research for this post, I literally had no idea. But I am super into it.

Because a lot of these brands are part of the problem, by just producing, producing, producing. But by encouraging recycling and taking used goods back, it seems like they are really trying to help with the problem.

And yes, of course, they are essentially getting original materials back for free. But still. Baby steps. It looking for a store to drop donations off at, check out the following:

  • Nike: Nike has its Reuse-A-Shoe program, which essentially shreds used sports shoes and turns them into surfaces for sports surfaces. (i.e. Basketball courts, track & soccer fields.) As a runner, this is an absolutely amazing program because there is nowhere else that I know of that will take worn down running shoes.
  • H&M: H&M also has a program where it sorts donated clothing into what can be reworn & resold, what can be reused and turned into other products, and what can be recycled back into fibers and used for things like insulation. When dropping off a bag of clothing, you'll also receive a voucher to shop. (A bit backwards to me, but whatevs. They're trying.)

These two programs are the best ones that I could find from big, name brand stores. I am hoping it is only the beginning!

(Sewing your own clothing is also an excellent way to repurpose & recycle your old clothes. But first, you will need a sewing kit! Grab your printable worksheet on how to build a sewing kit below, and start sewing today.) How, Why, & Where To Recycle Your Clothes: How To Build A Sewing Kit

WHERE to recycle your clothes: Secondhand shops

Where To Recycle Your Clothes: Secondhand Shops

And of course, there is always the option of selling your old clothes to a secondhand shop for some cash. (Or store credit, depending!) If you have the patience, I feel like this is always a good option to do BEFORE donating all of your used clothing. That way you can see if you can get some cash (always helpful) and then whatever you aren't able to sell, you donate. A win-win, right?

So, if looking for some shops to sell secondhand to, check out the following:

  • Buffalo Exchange: Need I say more? I feel like everyone knows what Buffalo Exchange is. I myself have resold clothing there in the past. If you have popular name brand clothing you are getting rid of, that is gently used, then this is a great place to check out.
  • Local Shops: And of course, every town & city out there has a cute, local secondhand shop. (Vintage shops seem to be especially popular.) Local shops are always fun to check out because they usually have a smaller inventory, and more unique pieces. If you have a bold, unusual piece, this may be your best option for getting a little cash back!

Secondhand shops are a great way to not only lighten your closet and lessen your waste imprint, but are also a great way to add a little more cash to your pocket.

(Sewing your own clothing is also an excellent way to repurpose & recycle your old clothes. But first, you will need a sewing kit! Grab your printable worksheet on how to build a sewing kit below, and start sewing today.) How, Why, & Where To Recycle Your Clothes: How To Build A Sewing Kit

How, why, & where to recycle your clothes: Are you in?

Where To Recycle Your Clothes: Nike Recycling Program

I hope that I have convinced you of how important is it to recycle your clothes, rather than just throw them away. Not only will you be generating less overall waste, but you will be helping people who really need it. Think: Vets, recovering addicts, women entering the workforce, and poor college students trying to get an education.

By just putting in a little bit of research and effort into where to recycle your clothes, you could be making a huge impact on someone's life.

We all know what it feels like to wear a new piece of clothing, and how empowering it can feel to be wearing something that just fits perfectly.

Something that feels fresh, that feels new. (Even if it isn't!)

That old dress in your closet that you haven't worn in 5 years could be the dress a woman wears to her first day of work at a new job. And instead of just sitting in a landfill (where it would potentially take hundreds of years to decompose) it is making another woman feel beautiful & confident again.

Sounds like a win-win to me.

Do you guys have any other fav places on where to recycle your clothes? I would love to hear them!

(Sewing your own clothing is also an excellent way to repurpose & recycle your old clothes. But first, you will need a sewing kit! Grab your printable worksheet on how to build a sewing kit below, and start sewing today.) How, Why, & Where To Recycle Your Clothes: How To Build A Sewing Kit

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