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  • Sophia

What to do with old clothes

Looks can be deceiving, and the word 'recycle' can be too. Let's pick apart what happens when you drop off old clothes.


This app is a great way to decide how much effort you want to put into selling your clothes. Blurry picture or modelled? Knock-off or the type of clothes you invest in? With a reasonable price, you'll find someone who wants it. While I haven't sold on Depop, I have purchased from local sellers with success!

Op shops like Vinnies are a great place to bring clothes that can still be worn - no tears or stains though! Sometimes a loose seam can lead to a discounted sale, but don't push it. I once asked my local Vinnies if I could have some of their unsellable donations to use in my tapestries, but they explained that items are at levels: from selling to donating. Where they go is a mystery to me, and not all op-shops have systems in place to recycle clothes that can't be sold OR donated. If you've changed your style or size, but others can joy in your clothes - op shops are the way to go. But if it's a goner, keep reading to find more options.

Here the line is very clear, undamaged items only. It's likely that applies to a lot of what you don't wear anymore. Marie Kondo-ing and self reflection during home-isolation might be leading you towards an entirely different style! Meaning that someone else can adopt your previous (in tact) style via Clothing Cleanup, which includes a pickup service!

I included this in the list as an outlier. Because it's shockingly not sustainable. Hasan Minhaj's investigative episode "The Ugly Truth of Fast Fashion" took a deep dive into H&M's annual report and store practices. Turns out, your donations will likely be sold to 3rd world countries where they may be burned in a great big bonfire. Not great. Really, really, not great.

You may have come across their sock recycling program - now they take on a greater variety! Most textiles require a different recycling process, so it's a tricky task to take on so many types of old clothes and shoes. But Manrags is consistent in their commitment that anything which can't be donated or even cut up to create something new is turned into a raw material to be used elsewhere. Such as shredding ripped jeans to create yarn!

Here you can find a new home for your quirky items, things which need a repair that you're not keen on doing yourself, and even seemingly unsalvageable items. After all, your local artist might be keen on the curtains your cat shredded up (me!).

For the truly unsalvageable items.

There are plenty more opportunities to sell, donate, repair, repurpose, and rehome textile waste. We send way too much to landfill right now. A quick google might not always be enough, as seen by H&M's greenwashed 'recycling' program. A second google, or even a phone call could help boost your confidence in knowing where your items will truly end up.

With the current Covid-19 climate though, perhaps ring ahead if the place you're keen on is open and taking donations.

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