How to Discard Your Unwanted Clothes Responsibly
Sell, donate, repurpose, or recycle — used clothes are never trash.

This article is sponsored by thredUP, the largest online thrift store. If you’re in the US, using a thredUP Clean Out Kit is one of the easiest ways of discarding your unwanted clothes.

Getting Rid of Unwanted Clothing

Ending up with a box full of clothes you don’t need anymore is a byproduct of minimizing your wardrobe.

It feels freeing to get rid of everything, but doing it the wrong way can seriously hurt the environment.

Every second, the equivalent of one garbage truck of textiles is landfilled or burned. If nothing changes, by 2050 the fashion industry will use up a quarter of the world’s carbon budget.

By selling or repurposing your used clothes, not only will you avoid hurting the environment, you’ll benefit directly by doing it.

Let’s look at all the ways you can part with your box of old clothes.

Sell Them Secondhand

Selling your old clothes is the option you usually want to consider first, as it allows you to recoup some of the money you spent.

A good rule of thumb for pricing your secondhand clothes: For fairly new items: 50% retail value. 25% if it’s a few years old, and 10% for even older clothing. This is a good starting point.

There are many factors that will play a role in whether you sell your used clothes or not. Just remember to be flexible. Sentimental value unfortunately doesn’t convert into monetary value.

In terms of where to sell, there are a few options to consider. You might have local consignment stores nearby. Alternatively, you can find them online.

Editor’s Note

thredUP makes this easy if you’re in the US. You can order a Clean Out Kit and send them all of your unwanted clothing, that’s still in great condition.

You’ll earn cash or credit for everything thredUP accepts. The rest is put into their Rescues program or responsibly recycled with their textile recycling partners.

Facebook has an endless supply of groups dedicated to selling used goods, and you can try to sell your unwanted clothing to your friends and acquaintances through social media or otherwise. Yard sales still happen too!

Make sure that the clothes you’re selling aren’t damaged in any way. If they are damaged, then attempt to repair them to the best of your ability. Also, make sure and that they’ve been cleaned thoroughly.

Donate Them

If you want to make things easier on yourself, or simply want to help someone in need, you can donate your clothes instead of selling them. You can gift your friends, or places such as thrift stores, homeless shelters, and community centers.

Just be sure to check beforehand that there is a need for the donated clothes. Unfortunately many places throw away unneeded donations, which defeats the whole purpose of disposing responsibly.

Never donate broken or damaged clothing.

Repurpose Them

A garment may not serve its intended purpose anymore, but you might still find an alternate use for it.

Your running shoes, for instance, might have too many miles on them to perform as was originally intended; however they could still be great garden shoes. A stretched out sweater might be perfect for chores at home too, or just for relaxing when nobody else is around.

This extends the lifespan of your clothes, and moreover eliminates the need to buy new items for those occasions.

You can also turn clothes into something completely new. Old garments can be transformed into bags, pillow cases, dog toys or cleaning cloths. The sky’s the limit.

Last Resorts

If your clothes can’t be sold, donated, or repurposed; the best thing you can do is minimize the environmental burden of your decluttering process.

Believe it or not, you might be able to compost some of your old clothes. Cotton, wool, hemp, silk and linen can all be composted, as they’re natural fibers. It will take some time though, as they’re also all durable materials.

Synthetic fibers such as polyester and nylon won’t break down, and shouldn’t be composted.

Often, a garment may contain a small percentage of synthetic materials in order to add stretch or durability. This is something you need to discern before deciding what to do with your secondhand items. You may end up with a few strings in your compost heap, but these can easily be plucked away.

There are many recycling options to consider, too. Organizations can put your clothes to use in a variety of ways; new fabric, wall insulation, athletic fields, playgrounds… you name it.

Drop-off locations are usually easy to find in any large area or community. Just make sure that you follow the instructions provided for each scenario.

Final Words

Sometimes you might buy something without thinking it through, and it ends up being a mistake; but throwing old clothes in the trash is negligent.

You have so many options to do it the right way. It requires a tad more effort, but it’s more than worth it.

You acquired the clothing — and with that purchase comes the responsibility to ensure that they don’t become an environmental burden.

By reading this it’s already strongly evident that you’re looking to do the right thing.

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