Sustainability| 2 min read

5 Ways To Recycle, Reuse, And Upcycle Your Old Clothes

Everyone manages their wardrobe a little bit differently.

Everyone manages their wardrobe a little bit differently. Some people like to keep things fresh, purchase new clothes, and donate the unwanted stuff. Others (like me) wear their clothes until the bitter end. But what do you do with clothing that isn’t suitable for donation? What if it’s stained, torn, and unfit for use?

Fortunately for those of us who wear stuff into the ground, there are eco-friendly ways to give our old clothes a second, third, or even fourth life! Here are 5 ways to recycle, reuse, and upcycle your old clothing.

Don’t give up on it yet!

Just because it has a stain or a hole doesn’t mean that your old garment is down for the count. We encourage everyone who shops to patch it, sew it, and make their garments last as long as possible. Some stain removers are also incredibly effective. If an item is truly beloved, you can even look for a local tailor or seamstress to repair your old clothing.

See what your local thrift stores do.

Most thrift stores, especially the larger, chain stores, have plans in place for finding a use for unsellable clothing. If you’ve got a garment that just can’t be worn anymore, call around and see if they offer any clothing recycling. Many of them will! Some simply throw these unusable items in the trash, which isn’t ideal!

Use old clothes for a DIY project!

It’s amazing just how useful the materials old clothes are made of can be when applied to a different purpose. For example, old jeans and t-shirts can make washrags. T-shirts can be made into pet bedding or even tote bags! If you’ve got a garment you’d like to give a second life, search around to see what others have done with their old clothes!

Reach out to the manufacturer.

It may come as something of a surprise but some clothing manufacturers will actually accept back their old, worn clothing when it can no longer be used by the consumer. REI, The North Face, and Patagonia all offer such services as well as some other fashion brands like Levi’s and H&M. Call your clothes’ manufacturer to see what they do with their old garments!

Find a worthy organization.

Beware of dropoff bins labeled “clothing recycling.” They don’t always actually recycle clothing. Many of them will only take the gently worn garments and then resell them while throwing out the heavily worn stuff. Some box stores, like J. Crew, will accept any old garments. There are some organizations that accept worn clothing shipped from your doorstep to them. Do some searching around for a worthy organization to support!


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