How to Dispose Old Clothes with Environmental Consciousness

We have a problem when our wardrobe is overflowing with old clothing; these are the bulk of extra items that either don’t fit our current sizes or have been worn so much that they are of low quality, which is often the case with secondhand clothing.

“How do I get rid of these clothes?” is the query that emerges. Well, in this article, we look at how to dispose old clothes with the environment at heart.

According to recycling procedures that guarantee the piece reaches a second hand through which each element may be reused again, this is done in a way that relieves me of the burden of its accumulation while also being environmentally responsible.

You may have some extra items in your closet that you don’t need and that you want to get rid of responsibly because they might not be in style or fit you properly.

For whatever reason you choose to get rid of them—for example, to free up more room in your closet or to prioritize your wardrobe based on a modest lifestyle devoid of the accumulation of unworn clothing—you can still do so.

How to Recycle Textiles: Give New Life to Old Clothes

How to Dispose Old Clothes

These are a few environmentally friendly ways to get rid of unwanted clothing, regardless of the reason.

  • Donate those Duds
  • Sell Clothes Online
  • Creatively Recycle Clothes
  • Up your Fashion Upcycling Game
  • Mend and Repair
  • Online Clothes Repair
  • Use a Brand’s Return and Recycling Policy
  • Clothing Swap Dates with Friends
  • Compost Clothes made of Natural Fabrics
  • Get Crafty with Art Project

1. Donate those Duds

Donating clothing is the most common way to get rid of unwanted clothing (for the 28% of people who even do that), but it’s not always the greatest option.

Donating clothing to nearby thrift stores or consignment businesses does not guarantee that it will be given another chance at life.
90% of the contributions of clothing are recycled or go unsold.

By converting 100 million pounds of clothing into yarn, carpet padding, or insulation for homes, textile recycling lowers greenhouse gas emissions to the level of 38 million cars. Not every item of donated clothing that is unsold has the same beneficial effects.

The remainder is shipped to developing nations, some of which have outlawed the import of apparel due to its detrimental impact on the domestic textile industry.

That does not imply that giving away clothes is always a negative idea. It’s not a one-size-fits-all approach to getting rid of unneeded clothes, but it can be quite effective at reducing textile waste.

We need to exercise caution in what (and where) we donate clothes:

  • Donate or sell your clothing to thrift stores or nonprofits that aren’t too well-known (also known as charity consignment businesses that only accept items that are essentially guaranteed to sell)
  • Only give away clean clothing. A single piece of mildewed clothing can mean throwing away the entire bag right away.
  • Contribute to neighborhood theatres, women’s shelters, schools, or homeless shelters so that clothing is given to those who need it.
  • Give directly to families in need or friends with smaller children, especially for people who are unsure what to do with outdated maternity clothes, eco-friendly wedding dresses, high school sports uniforms, and other specialty apparel. Although they have a terrible reputation, hand-me-downs are one of the most economical ways to guarantee that clothing is reused.
  • Give local nonprofits priority because it can be more difficult to track the whereabouts of your clothing (and the money made from them) in larger charity thrift chains.
  • Continue the cycle by generating demand for textile recycling through the purchase of used goods. Just 7% of people purchase used clothing, compared to 28% who give.

2. Sell Clothes Online

Are you interested in making some additional cash with a wardrobe purge?

Thanks to online thrift stores that also serve as a platform for used clothing sales, selling clothing has never been simpler. In addition to giving you a little extra cash, selling your old clothing gives you the peace of mind that it will be given to someone else.

That still leaves us with all those cheap fast fashion impulse purchases that have little initial value and a negligible resale value. But there are uses for even the most affordable Forever 21 t-shirts.

3. Creatively Recycle Clothes

What happens to clothing that can’t be sold or donated? Be inventive.

There are countless ways to repurpose clothing, but these are a few quick and simple ideas:

  • Create a homemade draft stopper to keep the winter draft out and conserve electricity.
  • You can quickly transform an old t-shirt into a vibrant produce bag or shopping bag for your bulk store or zero-waste purchases.
  • Alternatively, upcycle worn-out t-shirts into a memory-infused blanket that will keep you toasty both physically and figuratively.
  • Use used clothes to cut thin fabric strips for eco-friendly wreaths, baskets, carpets, and other crafts.
  • You can make your wool dryer balls out of an old jumper.
  • Make a cute sock monkey to give as a sustainable present.
  • Convert old, sturdy denim into inexpensive dog toys.
  • A nice coffee cozy is something like socks. Here are some additional suggestions for using old socks.
  • Repurpose old clothes into cleaning cloths and double your eco-friendly efforts by using them as reusable paper towels!
  • If you’re stuck for ideas, check out our extensive list of things to do with old bras and underwear!

4. Up your Fashion Upcycling Game

You can upcycle garments to make new (ish) apparel in addition to using it to make home goods and décor. But you question, what exactly is upcycled clothing? Anything made of fabric that would normally be considered undesirable and destined for the trash qualifies.

Here’s how to repurpose old clothing DIY style:

  • Repurpose your old t-shirt by cutting it into a new t-shirt or tank top with intriguing ties or cuts.
  • Additionally, t-shirts can be made into shams and ornamental pillowcases.
  • You can make a lovely shirt dress out of a men’s dress shirt.
  • Make cut-off jean shorts out of ripped old denim. Use them to mend holes in other jeans if they have a butthole.
  • Repurpose old sweaters into a fresh winter beanie.
  • Old shirts can be turned into coin purses or wallets.
  • Flannel shirts can be made into warm scarves.
  • Repurpose discarded clothing into interesting accents for other dull pieces. Wear a jumper or jacket with corduroy elbow patches, or infuse simple shirts with vibrantly colored inserts.

See these brands that have made repurposed apparel into a sustainable company for more inspiration.

5. Mend and Repair

In Brave New World, Aldous Huxley stated, “It’s better to end than to mend.” Riches decrease with the number of stitches. As a culture, we replace more often than we repair, especially when costs that seem suspiciously low don’t seem to be discouraging the behavior. 

Most no longer possess the abilities needed to repair a broken zipper, darn a sock, replace a missing button,n or sew up a tear.

However, it doesn’t take a lot of time, an expensive sewing machine, or special tools to learn these skills. We can quickly mend the torn knee hole with just a needle of thread and a few YouTube videos.

Resist the impulse to just replace ripped clothing if you’re unsure of what to do with them. Instead, commit to doing repairs on a semi-regular basis. Get some pals together, share some needles and thread, and work on some repairs while having a “yarn.” 

6. Online Clothes Repair

Allow experts to handle the heavy lifting (er, stitching) for repairs that are beyond your capabilities (or beyond the time you have available). This can be obtained through internet garment repair businesses, repair cafes, or local tailors.

The Clothes Doctor can restore, mend, alter, and clean nearly everything with vegan, cruelty-free, and plastic-free repair supplies and eco-friendly detergents.

A gay and Black-owned company, Hidden Opulence offers simple repairs, more involved repairs, changes, and unique upcycling projects while also celebrating diversity and circularity.

7. Use a Brand’s Return and Recycling Policy

Some of our favorite eco-friendly fashion brands and companies have programs that allow you to recycle old clothes or return gently used ones so they can be sold again, used to make new items, or donated to nonprofits.

Certain brands even go so far as to recycle clothing in exchange for cash, store credit, or future savings.

8. Clothing Swap Dates with Friends

Playing dress-up with pals is a great way to demonstrate the phrase “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” Bring some pals around and propose a clothes exchange. More is always better. Nobody will be left out if everyone packs a range of clothes, shoes, and accessories.

Play some lively music, pass around nibbles and beverages (wine and a makeover of your clothing, anyone? ), and walk the runner rug runway.

After the clothing exchange, consider upcycling any unwanted clothing or organize a group outing to a nearby thrift store or homeless shelter to drop them off.

9. Compost Clothes made of Natural Fabrics

While purchasing clothing made of sustainable materials is a wonderful thing, purchasing clothing made of natural fibers is preferable.

Composting is an option for clothing made of natural fibers, such as linen, ethical cashmere, hemp fabric, bamboo fabric (depending on how it’s produced), organic cotton, silk, kapok, alpaca, wool, and hemp.

How may an old jumper be used as food for worms?

But because natural fibers are frequently mixed with synthetic materials (such as polyester, elastane, nylon, etc.), their composting potential is reduced. 

You might still want to compost the clothing even if it contains a small amount of synthetic materials, but proceed with caution and avoid feeding the worms. When in doubt, stay away from synthetics.

Here are a few more pointers for composting clothing:

  • Get rid of any materials that won’t biodegrade. Remove buttons, zips, plastic tags, labels, and anything printed on the clothing (which is probably made of PVC or another type of plastic).
  • Aim to add just enough. Old clothes shouldn’t make up more than 25% of your compost.
  • Cut or tear into shreds. The bits will decompose more quickly the smaller they are.
  • Think about clothing as “brown material.” To keep things balanced, add them to the compost pile together with a lot of “green material” (such as food scraps, grass clippings, etc.). 
  • Increase the temperature! It will go more quickly with hot compost.

Furthermore, 72% of clothing is made of synthetic fibers. If you have old plastic clothing and don’t think your donated items will be sold, consider using a textile recycling company.

10. Get Crafty with Art Project

Are you unsure about what to do with old clothing that can’t be upcycled, given, or resold? How about making an artistic creation?

These ideas not only offer an enjoyable method to recycle textiles but also offer creative ways to employ leftover bits from other upcycling projects.

  • Create a decoupage collage that resembles Home Talk.
  • Sweaters can be made into ornamental flowers; old shirts and sweaters can be made into soft Christmas ornaments, Christmas trees, or reusable fabric gift wraps.
  • Turn your worn-out trousers into stylish placemats for the country.
  • Used clothing can even be used to create sculptures.

The positive effect of getting rid of old clothes

A green method that achieves resource sustainability by extending its useful life, along with community support solutions and assistance for the underprivileged, includes the beneficial effects of thoughtful disposal practices for used clothing.


Editor at EnvironmentGo! | | + posts

A passion-driven environmentalist by heart. Lead content writer at EnvironmentGo.
I strive to educate the public about the environment and its problems.
It has always been about nature, we ought to protect not destroy.

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