What to Do with Unwanted Clothes and Underwear: Resale, Donate, and Recycle Options
I recently did a closet clean-out which means I was left with A LOT of unwanted clothes and underwear. Some pieces are lightly used and can find a new home, others are too worn out to be sold or given away. The question is: “What do you do with old and unwanted clothing?”.
What to Do with Unwanted Clothes
The Problem with Textile Waste
The simple and easy solution would be to just throw the old clothes away. And I’ll admit, that’s what I have done in the past. However, textile waste is a big problem. It’s estimated that each American throws away 70 pounds of clothing a year. When textiles decompose, they release toxic gasses. And a lot of clothes now contain synthetic fibers which don’t end up decomposing.
Fast fashion trends mean that people are constantly getting rid of “old” clothes to make room for newer pieces. Sadly, about 84% of clothing ends up in landfills when it turns out that 95% of those clothes could be reused or recycled.
Resell Your Clothes
The first option for unwanted clothes would be to find a way to resell them. This is only usually an option for clothes that are in good condition. Here are some places where you can resell clothes:
This is my go-to for getting rid of larger quantities of clothes that are in great condition. I love selling on ThredUP because it’s sooo easy. You request a Clean Out bag and it gets mailed to you. Then you just fill up the bag with clothes, shoes, accessories, and drop it off at the post office! ThredUP goes through your bag and will list and price the pieces for you. The pieces that ThredUP doesn’t accept or sell are donated. The downside to ThredUP is that you don’t make a big profit. For example, I usually only make $1 off of my H&M pieces that are in great condition. And I usually only make around $20 per bag that I send in. BUT this is a super easy option and doesn’t require a lot of time.
I’ll sell higher quality items on Poshmark because I can set the price. However, this option is more work because I have to photograph and list all the items myself. But I end up making a higher profit so sometimes it’s worth it. Poshmark does take a percentage of your sale so just be aware of that. (P.S. You can find me on Poshmark – @jeansandateacup)
There are a ton of other options and sites for selling clothes secondhand. You can do it through Instagram – especially if you have a larger following. You can sell through Depop, Vestaire, The Real Real, and eBay – to name a few.
Donate Your Clothes
You can also choose to donate your gently worn clothing. Obviously, Goodwill is one of the most well know options. However, there are other options out there. I prefer options where you can download a shipping label and pack the items yourself to drop off at the post office. That way I don’t have to drive to a specific drop off location.
Zappos for Good
You can donate gently used shoes, clothing, and more through Zappos’ Donation programs! What I like about this is that you can print a return label, attach it to any box, and drop it off at a UPS store.
Free the Girls
You can donate your new or gently used bras to Free the Girls which helps bring economic opportunities to survivors of human trafficking. All you have to do is fill out a form and download a shipping label. Then send in those bras!
Vietnam Veterans of America
You can donate clothes, shoes, and more through this organization that benefits Vietnam Veterans. What I like about this program is that you can request a pick up so you don’t even have to leave the house!
Recycle Your Clothes
For clothing and underwear that’s beyond repair and too worn out to resold or donated, it’s time to recycle!
Zappos for Good Recycling
Zappos also has recycling programs. You can recycle your old blue jeans through this program. Just download a shipping label, pack a box, and drop it off at UPS.
& Other Stories Textile Recycling
You can fill a bag with any textiles (doesn’t matter the brand) and drop it off at & Other Stories. You will receive 10% off your purchase at & Other Stories!
I would just call ahead to make sure they are still accepting bags. I know H&M used to do this too (since & Other Stories is run by the same company) but I couldn’t find information on their website. You might still be able to drop off old clothes at H&M as well!
The North Face Clothes the Loop
You can bring unwanted clothes and footwear in any condition from any brand to a North Face store and they will recycle them. You receive a $10 credit towards your next purchase of $100 or more at North Face!
Universal Standard Reset, Recycle, Refresh
This is a really cool program where Universal Standard with give you a $25 gift card to spend on their website for each piece of clothing you send in to recycle – up to 4 pieces. That means you can get up to four $25 codes to use!
The recycle bag does cost $4.50 to order but it seems like it’s worth it – especially if you’ve been wanting to order some new pieces from Universal Standard – which is a size inclusive, ethical fashion brands, btw!
Knicky Underwear Recycling
I used to just throw unwanted underwear away because even if it was in good condition, it just felt weird to sell it. Knicky has a recycling program where they accept ANY brand underwear to recycle. For each box of undies you send in, they will add a FREE pair of their underwear to your next purchase! I just bought some Knicky underwear and I wish I had known about the recycle program! I will definitely be taking advantage of this in the future.
The Bra Recyclers
If you wear your bras to death like I do then the only option is to recycle them. You can download a shipping label from the Bra Recyclers and send them your old bras to recycle! Just an FYI – postage is NOT paid so you will have to pay for it out of pocket.
Hanky Panky Lingeriecycle
Hanky Panky will accept bras and underwear from ANY brand to be recycled. You have to request one of their free envelopes to mail in your old bras and underwear. You do have to pay for postage to mail it back though.
Girlfriend is a sustainable and ethical activewear brand that offers to recycle their old pieces once you are done with them. Unfortunately, you can’t recycle other activewear brands with them. But it’s a good reason to switch over to Girlfriend if you are into activewear.
You have to buy the shipping label (which costs $7) but Girlfriend with give you a $15 credit towards your next purchase.
There are other fashion brands that have specific recycling programs for their clothes only so I would always check with your favorite brand to see if they offer something. Eileen Fisher is an example of an ethical fashion brand that has a recycling program for their brand specific clothes!