How to Recycle Used Clothes in Australia

Did you know that Australia is one of the world’s biggest clothing polluters? With a whopping 6,000 kg of clothing items thrown out every ten minutes--YES, the statistic is ten minutes--we are clogging up landfills with products that can easily be recycled and/or repurposed. Fortunately, Australia makes it very accessible for people to become responsible and change their ways for the better, instead of holding on to an outdated chucking-out-wherever complex.

But we can always donate clothes to charities, right?

WRONG.

We all think that donating to charities is an easy alternative to recycling clothes, because “they’ll deal with it.”

But what happens when they don’t?

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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

Recycle upcycle repurpose sustainable ethical fashion donate charity clothes Australia, sustainable clothing, ethical clothing manufacturers

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