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How to Recycle Old Clothing

how to recycle old clothing

There’s something energizing about cleaning out your closet, but what do you do with the clothing, shoes, and accessories that you decide not to keep?

You eco-fashionistas out there would never toss your used clothing into the trash, but unfortunately many people do. According to our sister site, Insteading, a significant percentage of the clothing and textiles we get rid of each year end up in the landfill. That adds up to hundreds of thousands of tons of waste each year.

In New York, the city government has teamed up with Housing Works to launch re-fashioNYC, a program aimed at making it easier than ever to donate used textiles. Here’s a quick video explaining a bit more about the program:

Not in New York? Don’t fret! It’s still easy to donate used clothing, accessories, and housewares! here’s how to recycle old clothing:

  • Track down your local Goodwill, Salvation Army, or Value Village. Some charities, like Vietnam Veterans of America, will even pick up your donated items.
  • If donating isn’t your thing, you can also have a go at selling off your unwanteds. Organize a garage sale or list them on eBay instead!
  • Are you the crafty type? Use your sewing skills to reconstruct your old clothes into something brand new.

What about you guys? Do you have other tips on how to recycle old clothing?

Image Credit: Creative Commons photo by Thing Three

Written by Becky Striepe

My name is Becky Striepe (rhymes with “sleepy”), and I am a crafts and food writer from Atlanta, Georgia with a passion for making our planet a healthier, happier, and more compassionate place to live. My mission is to make vegan food and crafts accessible to everyone!. If you like my work, you can also find me on Twitter, Facebook, and .


  1. Wonderful concept! In the DC area we have something similar for gently used books that are then passed on to literacy groups.

    Recycling through thrift stores is also a great idea, as most are run to support positive charitable causes.

    I’m building a business on thrift store finds. I scour thrift shops for discarded leather goods and then turn them into wearable art!

  2. Yes, do please recycle your good quality ex-wardrobe…then I shall gather them up and re-construct them into something awesome and new!

    Sometimes I feel like saying ‘it’s amazing what people will throw away’ like it’s a bad thing – but that’s not the right attitude. Truthfully, it IS amazing what people will throw away, and so long as you put them somewhere other crafty folks and vintage/thrift shoppers can find them, I’m extremely glad of this!

  3. Next time, use the word “reuse” instead of “recycle.” Those two words are very different, and should be used accordingly. Recycling clothes, for example, would be shredding up the fabric to make into furniture stuffing. We want to reuse them first.

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