How to Recycle Used Clothing

An Overview On Recycling & Donating Old Clothing

Fashion trends come and go, and with them, a whole pile of discarded clothing that’s “out of style” by someone’s standards. You’d likely be surprised to know that textile waste contributes to several environmental problems:

  • Resource waste: The cotton, hemp, bamboo, and petroleum, as well as dyes and other materials used to make clothing is wasted when you throw clothing in the trash can.
  • Landfills: Not only does discarded clothing take up space in landfills (Brits dispose of more than 1 million tonnes of textiles annually, contributing up to 5% to household waste), it can contribute to the formation of leachate, which can contaminate water and soil.[1]
  • Lost opportunities: Since more than 70% of the humans on earth rely on secondhand clothing for their wardrobes, by throwing your clothes away you’re missing an opportunity to help out someone who’s in need.[2]


How to recycle used clothes

Let’s find better ways to deal with our clothing waste. These clothing recycling options will ensure that you send your secondhand clothing where it can be useful once again:

  • Donating old clothes: One of the best ways to “recycle” your old clothing is to send it to a donation center where it will either be given to someone in need or sold to support the work of the charity. Often these nonprofit organizations, such as the Salvation Army, will send any unusable clothing for recycling at facilities like the Kettering Textiles in the UK or Textile Waste Solutions in the US. Our recycling database has a whole list for recycling clothing, including shoes and business attire!
  • Swapping secondhand clothing: If you’re looking for a way to trade up your old clothing for something new, check out clothing swaps which are becoming increasingly popular. Check our list of clothing trade sites and events in the Ecolife recycling database, and if there’s nothing in your area, consider setting up your own clothing swap meet!
  • Consignment and other selling options: If you need a little cash for your secondhand clothing, consider recycling it by putting it up for sale in a local consignment shop or sell it online. Our recycling database has loads of options for this purpose as well.
  • Upcycle clothing: If you’re crafty, consider transforming old clothing into something new with these interesting clothing upcycling ideas.
  • Recycling clothing: When all else fails, you may want to find ways to send your clothing for recycling. Some curbside recycling programs will accept your textiles (including clothing, handbags, belts, pillow cases and bedding, blankets, towels, shoes, and quilts), so contact your recycling center to find out if this is an option.



1  The Wasteguide - Textiles. (n.d.). Retrieved August 3, 2010, from The Environment Council:

 Think Outside the Landfill With Textile Waste Solutions. (n.d.). Retrieved August 3, 2010, from Textile Waste Solutions:

Stay Connected.
You've been added to our mailing list.
Thank you for signing up!
Like ecolife on Facebook & Google, and join us in the Green movement!