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10 easy ways to recycle clothing and fight fast fashion waste

Here’s our guide to recycling clothing with 10 useful tips and loads of recycling programs to use when you donate your clothing. Don’t forget to share this with your friends.

Below, you’ll find 10 ways to keep your clothing out of the garbage bin, or “diverting textile waste.”

Technically, recycling means to use the raw material of a product to create another product, but we’re keeping the definition broad for this article. 

Check out these clothing waste stats, which show the enormous scale of clothing and textile waste globally:

How to recycle clothing - 10 easy ways

recycling bin

1. Drop off your clothing directly to a clothing recycler

There are a lot of programs for dropping off clothing to a bin to be recycled. Here are a few worth checking out: 

2. Upcycle your clothing

Upcycling your clothing means turning it into something with greater value. This option is especially useful for people who enjoy sewing or crafting. The nice thing about upcycling clothing, is you can personalize clothing so you love it even more than the original. 

Upcycled clothing doesn’t just have to become another garment. It can also become a quilt, a lampshade or a decorative wall hanging. Here are some ideas for upcycling clothing

3. Sell your clothing 

Thrift store shopping

Online pre-loved clothing sales have become a big business. One of the things driving this trend is the rise in online used clothing platforms like Depop. But you don’t even have to sell on sites like Depop if you have a large enough following on social media. Arguably, Instagram is all you need. 

Another way to sell your clothing is to check with retail outlet consignment stores like Buffalo Exchange and Crossroads Trading, but these have the downside of heavy brand and clothing curation and marked-down buy-back price points. 

4. Gift your clothing to a friend

Make sure to explain why it’s the perfect gift for them. Maybe it’s attached to a certain memory you had with the gift-getter or maybe it’s a garment in their favorite color. Finding the personal connection in the reason for giving your gift is all it takes to normalize clothing reuse. 

5. Return your clothing to a brand buy back program

Loads of brands have clothing buy back programs these days and this is expected to rise. Here are a few of the most popular brands offering discounts on purchases with your donations: 

  • Patagonia Worn Wear- this brand’s clothing only
  • North Face Renewed - donate from any brand 
  • Levi’s - donate denim from any brand 
  • Madewell - donate jeans from this brand
  • Eileen Fisher - this brand’s clothing only
  • H&M - drop off clothing from any brand

6. Donate your clothing

Rainboots filled with plants

Donation schemes all operate differently. Whether you’re dropping off at your local Goodwill or Salvation Army, be sure to call first to get information on how their drop-offs work. To find a place to donate anywhere in the US, search on the Donation Town site

7. Swap your clothing with friends

Hosting a clothing swap with friends is a fun, creative way to jumpstart your spring wardrobe. 

8. Repair or mend your worn out clothing

Go to your local auntie, tailor, seamstress or cobbler or search for mending tips online. You can do this! Repairing improves holes, tears, worn soles, broken zippers, etc.  

9. Compost your natural fiber clothing

As long as your clothing has all of its zippers and buttons removed and it’s made of 100% natural fibers like cotton, hemp, linen or wool, you can simply shred up your clothing and put it in the compost to decompose

10. Reverse engineer your garment and use it for scrap fabric and “parts”

Get creative and use the parts and pieces of your garments in unique ways. Scrap fabric can become rags, bag ties, food wraps or jar seals (just add a rubberband), while zippers and other parts can be repurposed. Stretch your imagination to find as many uses as possible for a single item. 

Wear your planet-friendly heart on your sleeve with our Green Heart Bundle.  


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