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All articles here are written by Melinda Briana Epler (that's me!) unless otherwise noted. I'm a documentary filmmaker, writer, and brand experience designer - I've dedicated my life to living a sustainable lifestyle and helping others do the same. Please feel free to contact me if you have questions or thoughts for articles. Welcome!

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What Do You Do With Old Clothes?

I have gone through a couple of closet purges over the last few months, as my body grew smaller after the cleanse, increased exercise, and avoiding gluten (which, among other things, made me bloated).

My favorite drop-off site for used clothing is Lifelong AIDS Alliance.  Sometimes I drop things off, other times I pick things up.  It’s a wonderful cycle, and it helps a great local charity at the same time.  (Plus it’s a tax write-off, which doesn’t hurt.)

I just came across usagain, a for-profit company that sells, gives away, and recycles used textiles – clothes, curtains, shoes, etc.

I must say that for a moment, I was annoyed that it was a for-profit company given all the charities you could donate to instead.  And then I rethought for a moment.  Here’s their mission:

Our mission at USAgain is simple: to provide consumers with a convenient and eco-friendly option to rid themselves of excess clothing, which we divert from wasting in landfills for resale here in the US and abroad.

According to their “Live Stats”, as of this morning they reported:

  • 395,826,858
    Items saved from landfills
  • 2,518,896,804
    Lbs of CO2 saved
  • 2,056,224
    Cubic Yards of landfill space saved

It’s pretty cool that someone saw an environmental need and started a business to fill that need.  If their statistics are any indication (only 15% of household textiles are recycled?) there is still a lot of unmet need!

Where Do You Donate Clothes?

Or what else do you do with them?

 

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8 comments to What Do You Do With Old Clothes?

  • Leesalu

    I invite girlfriends over for a clothing exchange. A great reason for a party! I always have a couple items I never wear but still love, so it’s comforting to give them to someone who will appreciate them. I suppose it makes it easier to let go of stuff.
    At the end of an hour or two, we bag everything up and deliver it to the women’s shelter.

  • Libby

    My husband and I tend to wear out our clothes, but when we have anything in good condition to discard it goes to the women’s shelter. Other uses for our old clothes include cutting into rags and incorporating scraps into quilts. Next I’d like to try braiding a rug with our worn jeans…

  • Most of the time they go to the drop box of a local thrift shop that offers vouchers for free items to people in need, or you can buy from the shop. Certain items are taken to the mission, like jackets, warm weather items, or basics, like pots and pans that someone would need if they have nothing. These items are free to individuals. In my neighborhood we also employ the curbside method of recycling. I use this for furniture, and in one case our old (but still working!) DVD player when we upgraded to Bluray. I would have to say that it really depends on the time of year and the items I am getting rid of.

  • Most go to Goodwill if they are usable still. If they are just too old and worn, sometimes parts of them can be used in my sewing projects (clothes for the kids, quilts, small applique or bag projects). If totally unusable, I salvage whatever I can such as buttons and zippers and then do trash them. Thankfully, not many meet that fate, but I do take that on myself rather than send something clearly not usable to Goodwill or such for them to have to pay to dispose of.

  • Make them into other things. I recently made a shirt from parts of a dress, pair of pants and a shirt that I was able to salvage. I’ve been working on a cord jacket made from fabric saved from pants and skirts. Just about anything can be made out of salvaged fabric. I know that everyone doesn’t have the time or ability to do this, but I’ve been feeling more and more of a responsibility to find uses for what I’ve brought into my home. There is so much used clothing out there… And if I ever end up with organic natural fiber clothing that can’t be used any other way, I’ll compost it…

  • We usually donate them to the local thrift store, PARCA, I believe, which is where we purchase a lot of our clothes. When I have damaged clothes, I often have plans to use the fabric for sewing and such. Sometimes that happens, most often I just end up with a pile of ripped clothes. Eventually, I may turn them into rags for us or for my kids’ school.

  • If they’re in good shape, they get handed down to someone else or donated to a thrift store. If I love the fabric, I may save them to take apart and use the fabric in something else. If they’re worn out, I cut them up for rags, saving any buttons or things like that. If they’re not suitable for rags I’ve been cutting them up into small pieces for stuffing for draftstoppers (made from old jeans). Our house is very drafty and has five doors, so I’m hoping that draftstoppers will help keep us a bit warmer.

  • It’s funny. We have gotten most of our clothes second hand from thrift stores and friends, so when our kids out grow them they get passed on. When I weed through the giant garbage bags of clothes people give me I do trash what is truly trash. We sell some at our annual garage sale, and I have a ton that I have projects that I want to make. My goal is to make those projects this summer or get rid of the clothing. Most of it is damaged so it won’t make it into the thrift store.

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