Most discarded clothes and shoes end up in a landfill, just like plastic bottles and other refuse; however, recycling these items will do a lot to reduce your footprint. Beyond that, by making these items accessible, you help provide affordable, good-quality clothing to those who need it; you also cut down on the energy used to produce the new, often lesser quality, items they would have spent money on. In short, recycling old clothes and shoes is a win-win- win situation for you, for those who receive them and for the earth itself! Here are some easy ways to get started.
1. Donate Them to a Non-Profit
From the American Red Cross, who uses clothing donations to help disaster victims, to United Way, who uses them to clothe poor and at-risk communities, there are many noble non-profit organizations that will accept your old clothing and shoe donations right off the bat. Running thrift stores is a popular way for many non-profits to raise funds, since donated clothes are turned into cheap digs for others, and the proceeds support the organizations’ efforts – another winning situation.
Stand-out organizations that run thrift stores where you can simply drop off your old clothes and shoes include:
Out of the Closet
With 96 cents out of every dollar sold at one of their stores going directly to the HIV and AIDS programs and services of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, Out of the Closet is an awesome place to recycle your gear. Use their handy interactive map to find a store or drop-off center near you or to contact them about picking up items directly from your home.
A giant in the global movement for a just world, Goodwill operates a network of social programs funded by its thrift stores. Thanks to Goodwill’s mission to employ people who face obstacles finding traditional employment (everyone from veterans to those with developmental disabilities), donating your clothes and shoes to this non-profit is a powerful way to support a truly heart-based sustainable clothing operation.
The Salvation Army
Running treatment homes for addicts by way of sales from its thrift stores, the Salvation Army is another great place to hit up with a donation of clothes and shoes you don’t need any longer. While its network of stores is vast, the Salvation Army also offers plenty of drop-off centers. On the website you’ll find an easy-to- use drop-off site locator and a form for scheduling a free pick-up right from your home.
2. Give Them For Rewards at H&M and Other Retailers
To combat the sheer amount of waste generating by throwing away clothes and shoes, the retail giant H&M has launched a campaign that gives you 15 percent off when you bring in garments or textiles like towels to recycle. After the huge success of this campaign, other major brands are now following suit including Levi’s, who provides free shipping labels on their website for recycling jeans (you will receive a 20 percent off coupon in return) and The North Face, where a drop off of old clothes or shoes will get you $10 credit towards anything in the store.