How to Get Rid of Unwanted Clothes Sustainably
Thanks to the recent netfilx show “tidying up” many of us are going through our closets and our drawers ready to simplify our lives. Although simplifying is great for our mental well-being, what actually happens to all those things we decide we no longer need? What should you do with all your unwanted items? Where do they end up? Well for you to sustainably get rid of unwanted clothes or any items for that matter, you need to understand why not every option is truly sustainable.
Is Donating Sustainable?
Many people pile their clothes up and donate them to the nearest thrift store to get rid of them. Clearly this is a better alternative to just throwing them away and contributing to the many pounds of textile waste, right? Not necessarily.
Unfortunately, only about 20% of the clothes donated to thrift stores will even sell at that store. The rest of the clothes are sent to either be made into rags for industrial use, sent to third world countries to be resold, or simply sent into the landfill. Sending these clothes to third world countries has devastating effects on the local economy where local businesses can not sell clothes as cheaply as the imported secondhand items and therefore end up going out of business with workers losing their jobs.
On top of that, any clothes seen unfit to be resold end up in the landfill making the donating process just extra steps of time and energy before these clothes meet their terrible fate. So then, what is the best way to sustainably get rid of unwanted clothes? Luckily you have several options, all depending on the condition of your clothing.
Clothes in Good Condition
Is your unwanted clothes in good condition? One way to determine that is to ask yourself “would I be comfortable giving this to a friend?”. If you wouldn’t wear it or give it to a friend simply based on its condition, then it is not in good enough condition to be donated. For items that passed this test there are many options, some you can even make some money off of.
Sell to a Consignment Store
Selling to a consignment store is a great way to sustainably get rid of unwanted clothes because it allows you to make some money off of the items. Since these stores pay you for your clothes they want to make a profit and will be sure to sell them. These clothes will likely be sold locally instead of being shipped overseas.
Often times consignment stores are very picky so to make sure you aren’t wasting any time check their website (if they have one) beforehand for a list of items that they accept so that you can go in confidant to make a couple of dollars.
Another great option for you to make some extra money off of your clothes is to resell them yourself online. There are many different websites out there now that make selling online very easy for both the seller and the buyer. Two great websites I love are Poshmark and Ebay as they make selling and buying very simple and because you choose how much to sell your item for you can make more money from these sites than you can from selling to a consignment store.
Use invite code BRAVELYBLONDE when signing up to Poshmark to receive $5 credit with your first purchase!
Participate in a Clothes Swap
Instead of selling your clothes you can trade them! A clothes swap is a great way to sustainably get rid of unwanted clothes because you can guarantee that your clothes will be worn again and you can get some great new clothes for yourself. This is also a great way to get some new clothes for your closet without spending any money! If you don’t know of any clothes swaps in your area, start one! You could be encouraging others to reduce fashion waste as well!
Give Away to Friends
Do you have an item of clothing that your friend just loves? Give it away to them! Not only are you helping yourself out, but you get to help your friend out as well. Because my clothes are going to someone I know will take care of and appreciate them, this is one of my favorite options. As children some of us hated “hand-me-downs” but this is one of the most sustainable ways to get rid of your unwanted clothes! I know I always appreciate new clothes especially if they are free and I am sure your friends will too.
This is last on the list because of the reasons listed above yet it is not a bad option. Before you donate to a charity or thrift store always make sure your clothes are in good condition. Donating clothes in good condition can be a perfect way to sustainably get rid of unwanted clothes. Stores only want clothes in good condition because they won’t sell otherwise.
Yet, what if your clothes are not in good condition?
Clothes in Bad Condition
What if your clothes are ripped, stained, have holes, or any other reasons that would make them in bad condition? You still have some options.
Some companies and businesses take old clothes of any condition and recycle them into new garments. They may even give you discounts or coupons for their store if you donate!
Each company requires different things so look carefully before donating to ensure your clothes don’t get thrown away. Many companies cannot take mixed fabrics. This means they may have to throw away a tee shirt simply because it is 90% cotton and 10% polyester. So be careful and do your research.
Some companies that accept old clothing are:
H&M Be a Fashion Recycler program accepts all unwanted clothing from any brand in any condition
The North Face Clothes the Loop program also accepts unwanted shoes and clothes from any brand in any condition at their retail and outlet locations
Patagonia Worn Wear program accepts used Patagonia brand clothing and resells it on their website at a discounted price
Many cities have programs already in place so check your local area for any recycling textiles programs as well!
Reuse or Upcycle
Do you have an old stained tee? Cut it up into rags! There are so many options to up-cycle your old clothes. Turning your clothes into rags is one of the easiest options! Look up some ideas of up-cycling your clothes as well, I saw a great one for turning an old sweater into a cute hat! Get creative and turn your old clothes into something new.
Regardless of what condition they are in you can find ways to sustainably get rid of unwanted clothes. This post just listed a few ideas, what options have you tried? Do you have any crafts for up-cycling clothes? Share your tips and ideas with me in the comments!