What to Do With Old Clothes: 8 Eco-Friendly Ways to Reduce Textile Waste

I’ve decided to donate a few items from my closet that I don’t wear anymore as part of my spring cleaning. However, after sifting through a mound of outgrown clothing, I was shocked and didn’t know what to do with them. Why? Because I had initially planned to donate them, but some of them were too discolored or worn out to be given away.

I’ve decided to share my experience to save you from having to listen to all kinds of monologues and stress. In today’s article, I’ll cover some problems with textile waste and what to do with old clothes. Let’s go!

The Huge Issue With Textile Industry’s Waste

Did you know 65 million t-shirts are thrown away daily? That may not seem like much, but think about how many t-shirts have been produced worldwide over the last century. It’s crazy to think about how many t-shirts are thrown away daily in the United States. 

The worst is, 95% of textile waste can be recycled, but only about 15% percent of discarded textiles, including t-shirts, are recycled. The rest eventually ends up in landfills.

Donating Your Old Clothes

There is a common misconception that giving your old, outdated, or damaged things to places like Goodwill or Salvation Army is the best, simplest, and most sustainable method to dispose of them. These organizations take everything left at their donation sites, but not everything is usable.

Donating Our Clothes

According to the Council for Textile Recycling, only around 20% of donated clothes are sold by the organization. Now, they are left with 80% of the remaining items to deal with. Then, half of that 80% not sold by the organization, or about 1 billion pounds, is exported to third-world countries and resold to street markets or thrift stores.

So I suggest that before you donate old clothes, pick out the recent ones still in good condition to have the best chance of being resold and used again. Or else, it may probably still end up in landfills.

What to Do With Old Clothes: The 8 Best Ideas

To help with 16 million tons of old clothing going straight to landfills annually, here are some better options to do with your unwanted clothes. These options will help to reduce textile waste and recycle your unwanted clothes.

1. Consign or Resell

Clothing in good condition is typically in high demand, so reselling your used clothing can be a great way to make some money off your old clothes while helping the environment at the same time. Consigning your clothes can be another good option, as consigning clothes to retail stores can sometimes result in you earning more money than you would’ve by reselling your clothes. 

If you have many consignment stores nearby, check to see who offers the greatest pricing. Some businesses will pay you straight away, while others may wait until your things sell before paying you.

2. Organize a Yard Sale or Garage Sale

Organizing a yard sale or garage sale is a great way to get rid of your old clothes and make some money, and it’s also an excellent way to get rid of all the unwanted stuff in your closets! To make money selling your old clothes, you need to inventory what items you want to sell and then set an asking price for them. Next, advertise your yard sale or garage sale to people in your area, and advertise on social media and community boards near your vicinity. On the day of the sale, set up tables outside your home and display the items for sale.

Garage Sale

3. Donate The Linens To Animal Shelter

Some people love to donate my old clothes to animal shelters, where they can use the clothes during natural disasters and emergencies. Linen donations can help these shelters provide more comfortable living conditions for animals and also help save the lives of more animals. Donated linens can be washed and reused, saving on the costs of purchasing new linens. Donating your worn linens, like bed sheets, towels, and tablecloths will help shelters provide bedding for animals that need it the most.

4. Give Them to Rummage Sale

Some charity groups hold rummage sales, and you may help by giving your old clothes. They accept clothes and items you want to get rid of at home. You can find this in churches, children’s groups, women’s shelters, and other organizations.

Contact local groups to find out when their next rummage sale will occur. Or you can call and ask them if they hold rummage sales. Rummage sales are a great way to help people in your community without hurting the environment simultaneously. Once you’ve gotten rid of your clothes, you can be sure it’s finding a use.

Rummage Sale

5. Reach Out to Local Homeless Shelter

Your old clothes can be of great value to someone in need, so instead of throwing them in the bin, why not donate them to a homeless shelter near you? By contributing your old clothes to a homeless shelter, you can help someone in need.

There are many benefits to donating to a homeless shelter. Not only will donating the clothes give to someone in need, but it also helps the environment by reducing waste in landfills. Call their local hotline and see if they’re accepting donations. Be sure to ask what items they get and if these things need sorted out or boxed in a specific way.

6. Compost Cotton Clothes

You can compost clothes 100% silk, wool, cashmere, hemp, and bamboo. Composting turns back these fabrics into the soil providing vegetables, fruits, and plants their needed nutrients. This is an excellent option for the environment.

7. Ship Back to the Manufacturer

Contact the clothes manufacturer and ask if they will take the clothes back. Some manufacturers are responsible for their product’s entire lifecycle and will recycle any of their garments returned to them. . When shipping the clothes, don’t forget to include your name, address, and phone number. Patagonia is one company that provides this service and also provides store credit to customers who qualify.

8. See if You Can Repair Them

If you are unable to give clothing because it is ripped or missing a button, the chance is you can fix it. You can do simple repairs at home, such as repairing a tear, replacing a button, or patching a hole in your beloved jeans. If you think a tailor can fix it and you can sell it for a higher price. It’s a good investment.

Repair Clothes

Author’s Note

The environment is essential to you and me, and we can take steps to protect it by recycling our used clothes and linens. There are many options for recycling your used clothes, and I’ve listed some of them here, hoping for someone like you to find and spread well on the planet we live on. Recycling is one of the easiest ways to help protect the environment and reduce textile waste. So let’s go green.

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