Here are 7 ways you can properly dispose of your used clothing (without the eco guilt).
After going through your closet and pulling out the items that truly don’t “spark joy” or make sense for you anymore, the next step is to responsibly and ethically dispose of your old clothing. Now if your first reaction is to go and dump everything in the nearest donation bin, STOP and first read why I think this isn’t always the most sustainable route. Instead, check out my list of 7 ways you can properly dispose of your used clothing (without the eco guilt).
WHAT YOU CAN DO
- Sell it.
There are plenty of websites and marketplaces for you to sell pre-loved clothing, like Poshmark and Facebook Marketplace—the obvious benefit being that you can profit while giving your clothing a new home!
- Give it to family or friends.
If you can’t or don’t want to take the time to sell your clothes, you can always give them away for free to family or friends. Just because you’ve outgrown something or it doesn’t fit your lifestyle anymore, doesn’t mean someone in your own circle won’t appreciate having it in their closet.
- Join or host a clothing swap.
Clothing swaps are an awesome way to trade your old clothes in for something new. Find a swap going on in your area, or invite a group of your most fashionable friends over and host one of your own. If you prefer, you can even participate in a virtual clothing swap on sites like Rehash or Swap Society.
- Upcycle it.
Turn your ratty old jeans into a cute new pair of cut-offs, or vegetable-dye a shirt that’s gotten stained. There are so many DIY tutorials and blogs that’ll walk you through the process of upcycling your wardrobe, as long as you’re willing to get creative!
- Downcycle it.
If some of your clothes are in really bad shape, you can always downcycle them to use around the house. Try making kitchen rags with holey socks, or cutting clothes into strips to use as pillow stuffing. The important thing is just to keep those items out of the garbage.
- Find a textile recycler.
Companies like TerraCycle take old clothing and fabrics and recycle or repurpose them into something new. Textile recyclers might turn fabric scraps into items like insulation or car upholstery, or break down the component parts to create new fibres for future use.
- Send it back to the brand.
A number of brands are starting to offer buy-back programs to help move toward a more circular economy. Programs like these are being instituted at both large-scale multinationals like Patagonia’s Worn Wear, reselling used clothing to other consumers, and smaller brands like Novel Supply Co.’s Afresh, transforming old clothes into new pieces like accessories and baby clothing. Many companies even offer discounts or store credit when you send things back!
Hopefully, this list will help you minimize your life and declutter your closet in an ethical, responsible, and sustainable way. But remember, clearing your space of old items doesn’t mean you have to rush right out to replace it with something new… you might even find that you live more by having less.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Deanna Cook is a global changemaker and development professional with extensive international experience in Asia, Africa, Europe, and North America. Her latest project, LIYA Collective, is a sustainable accessory brand of minimalist pieces ethically made around the world. She loves yoga, travel, spending time outdoors with her puppy, and all things conscious living.