Whether we are moving out to a new place or decluttering our closet, getting rid of unwanted clothes is one of the best ways to simplify our life. But we must do so responsibly.
With clothes you don't want, you can organize a swap party with friends and family or a yard sale. You can also sell them online, drop them off at a local resale shop, donate them to charity, repurpose, upcycle or recycle them.
Used clothing and other textile wastes are piling up in landfills at an alarming rate. Don't throw away clothes you don't want in the trash. It's highly detrimental to the environment and ecosystems.
The textile and apparel industry is the second-largest polluter globally. The overproduction and overconsumption of cheap disposable clothing are responsible for tons of textile wastes, greenhouse gas emissions, land, air, and water pollution.
Having too many clothes is a common problem. It's sometimes very hard to get rid of them. We can even feel bad and have regrets after throwing them away. Use a positive approach to get rid of them to avoid issues.
If you are a hoarder like me, you know it's overwhelming and stressful to keep too many clothes you don't want. It consumes your space, time, and energy. Clean out your closet responsibly to do better for the planet, your wallet, and your peace of mind.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reports that 16.9 million tons of used textile wastes are generated each year in the United States. That amount has doubled over the last 20 years.
According to Euromonitor, the average American throws away 70 pounds of clothing every year. Clothes are only worn for around a quarter of the global average in America.
The Ellen MacArthur Foundation reports that less than 1% of all textile waste is recycled into new clothes globally. More than USD 500 billion is lost due to a lack of reuse and recycling each year.
As consumers, we have the power to drive change. We choose the clothes we buy and who we support with our money. Every small step adds up to the whole movement for more sustainability.
By discarding unwanted clothing responsibly, we preserve natural resources, reduce pollution, and waste. Here is what to do with clothes you don't want.
1. Sell used clothing for extra cash
You can let go of used clothing you don't need and earn extra cash. Follow my guide on how to get rid of unwanted clothes for money for some amazing places to sell clothes you don't want.
It's an excellent way to simplify your wardrobe, get a larger budget, and justify better clothing purchases. Be more sustainable with clothes and give them a new life. You can even make someone else happy.
Some of the clothes in your closet might just be out of style. Maybe some don't fit you anymore, or they simply don't match your new lifestyle. Selling them is a great option to make more space for better items, have less stress, and spend less time getting dressed in the morning.
If you'd like to know how to separate your essentials from what is superfluous, read up my definitive guide on 20 types of clothes to get rid of right now.
You can find formidable places to sell unwanted clothes easily today. You could go to online resale shops or their brick-and-mortar counterparts. You can even sell them at an auction, fashion fair, farmers' market, town market, or sale.
When you drop off clothes you don't want, you sometimes receive cash upfront for them. But oftentimes, you will only get paid after your clothes have been sold.
Buying and selling used clothing is becoming cool again. The second-hand market is booming. more people are buying vintage clothing or thrifting. It's an excellent method to find unique styles nobody is wearing, save money with each purchase, and protect the environment at the same time.
An online marketplace is the best place to sell clothes when you are short on time. But if you want to maximize profits, you'll have to acquire some experience to know how and when to sell your items. Check out similar items that have sold on your chosen platform previously to get an idea of how to price your garments.
2. Donate unwanted clothes
Donating clothes to charitable organizations is often easier than selling them. It helps people in need as well as protects the planet, reduces pollution and waste. Check out my article on is it better to donate or sell clothes to learn how you can donate your items.
Donating clothes you don't want is a generous gesture. Someone else probably needs some of your items more than you do. Some popular organizations to drop them off are Goodwill and the Salvation Army.
Read up my comparison between Goodwill and the Salvation Army to better understand the difference between them and find some other places to donate clothes.
I keep pieces of clothing I still care about but don't wear in a bag away from my closet. If I miss anything, I pull it out and place it in my wardrobe again for a while. When the bag gets full, it's time to donate all of it.
Donating might just be the best way to get rid of unwanted clothes for you if you don't need the extra money. You can even save cash in some cases and get a larger tax return. Most of the time, you won't earn anything right away. But your donations can be used as a deduction when you write your taxes.
Apparel, footwear, accessories, and small items are the easiest to donate. Be sure to contact your charity or nonprofit organization of choice beforehand to ask them what kind of item they accept.
Many of them appreciate your contributions and welcome them as they can potentially do a lot of good. Their goal is to offer social services to underserved communities with philanthropy and social well-being in mind. They are awesome places to donate clothes you don't want.
The choice is up to you. Most people pick the organization that is the most convenient for them. Others consider that the core mission of the organization matters much more.
Check out the many places in your area that accept clothing donations. You can do some research on Charity Navigator or CharityWatch if you want to learn more about them before you donate.
Many nonprofit organizations raise money for charitable causes. On the other hand, for-profit companies sell your clothing contributions and may donate a portion of their profits.
You can also drop off clothes at homeless and women's shelters, family service agencies, immigrant support groups, and churches. Blankets, towels, and linens can help animal shelters in your local area as well.
Another great idea is to organize a clothing swap with your friends and family. It's a very fun activity to set up a pop-up store at your house and invite your friends over.
Clothes swapping is something you can do over the weekend. It's a very popular practice. It's quite enjoyable and protects the environment at the same time.
3. Reuse, repurpose, recycle, upcycle
When clothes you don't want cannot be sold or donated, you can still keep them out of landfills by recycling them, reusing them, repurposing, or upcycling.
Don't throw them in the trash. There are more simple and environmentally friendly alternatives to get rid of unwanted clothes. You can use textile recycling programs.
Many towns, councils, cities, fashion brands, and retailers have programs in place to collect, recycle, and upcycle used clothing. And many organizations have direct relationships with textile recyclers:
You can also repurpose old items and create something else out of them. Shred clothes you don't want and other textiles into materials for insulation, yarn, carpet padding, and other uses. Used clothes make awesome re-usable bags and cleaning rags.
If you know how to cut and sew, you can even upcycle used garments and create new clothes of higher value. You can do it at home without extra machinery.
If you don't know the difference between upcycling and recycling, read up my article on why upcycling clothing is better than recycling.
Upcycling is gaining popularity again. Conscious consumers and key players in the fashion industry make efforts to create upcycled clothing. It's an outstanding way to minimize the impact of fashion on the environment.
About the Author: Alex Assoune
Alex Assoune (MS) is a global health and environmental advocate. He founded Panaprium to inspire others with conscious living, ethical, and sustainable fashion. Alex has worked in many countries to address social and environmental issues. He speaks four languages and holds two Master of Science degrees in Engineering from SIGMA and IFPEN schools.