Americans throw away 81 pounds of clothes per person per year. That’s 26 billion pounds annually!
According to the EPA, only 15% of clothing in the United States gets reused or recycled.
You’ve heard the statistics. How are you going to change them?
Four Ways to Do Good with Your Old Clothes & Shoes
1. Sell Gently Used Items
- Bring to a local thrift or consignment store to sell.
- Thredup – Ship your clothes for free and get paid for what they sell.
- The RealReal – The place to sell luxury fashion online
- Poshmark – Take a picture on your phone and list items within minutes.
- Tradesy – Easy way to sell your clothes online.
- Vinted – Another good online option.
2. Swap Gently Used Items
- Search for a clothing swap near you.
- Global Fashion Exchange (GFX) – Holds swap events in various cities.
- Swap Society – Online clothing swap
3. Donate Your Old Clothes & Shoes
- Planet Aid – Find a clothing collection bin near you.
- Goodwill – Good for gently used clothes but not recommended for recycling.
- Salvation Army – Similar option to Goodwill.
- Freecycle – Give away your clothes for free.
- Malala Fund – Ship for free; they then sell your clothes and give 40% of the proceeds to support women’s education projects in vulnerable communities.
- Career Gear – Donate your professional menswear; they help men who are trying to start over and could use a little help.
4. Recycle Your Old Clothes & Shoes (Even Old Underwear)
- North Face – The Clothes the Loop program takes unwanted clothes and shoes at both their retail and outlet locations.
- Blue Jeans Go Green – Denim recycling program that has partnered with J. Crew and Madewell. Bring your old jeans in to either store near you.
- Nike – Will take up to 10 pairs of sneakers at participating stores & recycle the shoes for Nike Grind (sports turf).
- Helpsy – Find their collection bins in cities in the northeast United States such as New York and Boston.
- Earth911 – Use their search function to find textile recycling options near you.
- Community Recycling – They send wearable pieces to entrepreneurs around the world to sell and recycle the remaining unwearable pieces. Ship for free through partner brand – Timberland. If you want to hold a recycling drive, Community Recycling will pay you for boxes of old shoes.
- Soles 4 Souls – Takes gently worn shoes and distributes them to entrepreneurs in developing countries to support local businesses. They recycle shoes that are worn and even take single shoes. Drop off shoes in person at any DSW location or ship for free through Zappos.
- For Days – If you subscribe to one of their organic t-shirt plans they’ll take back any clothes from any brand, recycle them, and give you $4 store credit per item up to $50.
- Wearable Collections – Popular in NYC and has textile recycling collection options for the rest of the US.
We’re Glad You’re Onboard – You’re Really Making an Impact!
According to the EPA, if every American recycles instead of throws out their old clothes, the environmental impact is equivalent to removing 7,300,000 cars from the road.
Now that’s an agenda we can get behind, you can get behind, and hopefully, with a little sharing and nudging, those around us can too!
*If you liked this article and want to further the impact, please share with 3 people you know.
**Check out our deeper dive into the topic: How to Make a Positive Impact Recycling Your Old Clothes.
Garik Himebaugh is the founder of Eco-Stylist, the go-to resource for ethical clothing. He’s also an international speaker on all things sustainable fashion. Garik loves coffee, climbing, and clothes.