Here’s why this helps:
Synthetic textiles take thousands of years to decompose, and 61% of reusable or recyclable textiles get shipped overseas. If we are able to find creative and alternative uses for the clothing we want to discard, it means less textile waste goes to landfill or shipped overseas to unwanted places. Here are some ideas that can save your unused clothing from the landfill:
Cut it up and use it for home cleaning rags or your own UNpaper towels: If your garment is no longer wearable, cut it up into squares or rectangles and use it for cleaning the house. Another fun use is to make your own Unpaper towels - a great zero-waste addition to any kitchen. I liked this tutorial, although you may have to buy some Terrycloth to make it work.
Host a SWAP party with friends: Instead of sending unwanted clothes into the abyss of a charity shop, host a SWAP party with friends. Not only do you feel good knowing your clothes are going to a new home, it’s also a great excuse to get together! Not so keen on this idea? You could also try an online exchange program based on points like SilkRoll.
Meet up with a girlfriend of similar size and style and do a mini-swap: I had a girlfriend in high school who had a similar style as me and we would often take turns wearing each others’ clothes. If you’re not up for a full group swap, check in with a close girlfriend if she would be interested in trading clothes either temporarily or permanently. It’s like raiding your big sister’s closet!
Seek out a local textile recycler (apparently there are over 500 textile recyclers in the U.S - wow!): This one does take a bit of research, but I believe it’s worth it, knowing your textiles will be broken down by professionals and used in a new capacity. I found this nifty recycle locator (for the U.S only), but H&M also has a clothing recycling program where they will take clothes from anywhere and recycle them. Patagonia also has a recycling program for their own garments.
Consign or Sell on Your Own: Ok, this one might not be so out of the box, but I do think it is a great option since you can keep track of your unwanted clothes and know that they’re going to a new home instead of simply being discarded. I often go this route first. Facebook marketplace or Kijiji are great places to start, or if you don’t have local consignment stores in your area you can try The Real Real or ThredUp depending on how much you’re looking to receive. I have never personally consigned online yet but I have used marketplace and Kijiji with success.
Patch them up or take them to a local designer or your seamstress to see if they can either use the fabric or rework your piece: I love this one, but you need a good seamstress or tailor (or local designer) to make it happen. I’ve mentioned this ingenious company before, but you can also try Alterknit - an amazing company in New York that accepts damaged clothes and repairs them for you!
What do you think? Would you try any of these? Or do you have a preferred method for discarding old clothes? I'd love to know!