Remember that charities are not always able to keep, sell, or give away every item of clothing you give them. Charities pay roughly $13 million a year to send unusable items to landfills, amounting up to 60,000 tonnes of waste. For example, if the garment is too worn-out and the wearability levels are dangerously low, chances are the charity will end up sending your goods to a landfill, which you wanted to avoid at the get-go.
So, let’s talk about what we can do.
- Some retailers run their own recycling/repurposing programs. Stores like Zara, H&M, Sheridan, and Manrags have bins placed in-store to collect your used items, which they can process for rags and other textile byproducts.
Have a look through Planet Ark’s Recycling Near You page. It provides a comprehensive list of drop-off locations for unwanted clothing.
Search for a commercial clothing recycler on BusinessRecycling.com.au
- Check with your local animal shelter or vet. They’re always looking for towels, sheets, and different types of fabric to make animal bedding, for example.
- Use them as cleaning supplies in your home! Or donate them to your local mechanic (mostly if they are towels and bedding).
- Give them away on social media. Try your local community page on Facebook, or groups such as ‘Pay It Forward’ or ‘Buy Nothing’. If you post a photo and description of the clothes and current condition, someone just might have a use for it.
Donate to Boomerang Bags - this is a grassroots community upcycling initiative that collects used fabrics and stitches them into bags to replace single-use plastic bags. They rely on fabric donations, so look for your local group and see if they need anything you’ve got.
- Other local recycling alternatives can exist in your neighborhood and you might not even know it. Check with your friends and family--people are always bound to have some great ideas. You can even start a group collection and encourage people to recycle if they haven’t been already. It can work both ways!
We need to keep being creative in our quest for a cleaner, greener world. So let’s not stop here. Let us know what you’ve done at home or in your community to keep clothes out of landfills--we’re excited to hear how you’re making a difference. And if you're looking to create your own ethical clothing brand, get in touch here we can help!
Sources: Sustainability Victoria, Planet Ark, The Ekologi Store