The Best Sustainable Disposal Methods for your Unwanted Clothing

The Best Sustainable Disposal Methods for your Unwanted Clothing

Many of us have collected a huge amount of clothing. Some accompany us as we strut down the pavement, others looked oh so good on the model but haven’t seen the light of day since we stuffed them into our heaving wardrobe.

The rise in the disposability of clothes is most likely due to the western hemisphere’s obsession with ‘fast fashion’.  Over the past 10 years, the average number of items of clothing purchased per person has more than doubled.

In addition, there has recently been a growing interest in minimalism and a tidy space tidy mind concept. Inevitably converting to a minimalist lifestyle from a lifestyle more heavily involved in consumerism involves removing things from your home.

Although getting rid of things may be good for your mental health and house tidiness, throwing things out obviously can create a large amount of waste and it is important for us to consider what happens to our clothes when they leave our homes. Especially because the process is not entirely transparent or obvious.

Are you wanting to live sustainably, reduce your negative impact on the planet but also remove unused/unloved clothes from your home?

Would you like to know what options there are out there?

How to sustainably throw out unwanted clothes. How to sustainably throw out unwanted clothes

Read on to find out the pros and cons of a number of methods of throwing out unwanted clothes.

Charity Shop:

charity shop picture for How to sustainably throw out unwanted clothes blog post

Donating clothes to charity shops is a very popular choice for disposing of unwanted clothes.

Before donating clothes, make sure they are in good condition, if your items of clothing have holes or stains on them, consider recycling your items instead.

A great way to ensure that you are donating clothes that there is a demand for is to follow local charity shops/organisations on social media. By doing this you will be able to see when there is a particular demand for certain items.

Pros:

  • Helps good causes. Charity shops raise around £300m a year for charities in the UK
  • People purchase the item second hand rather than purchasing brand new item. This reduces the demand for new clothes to be made.
  • Clothes that don’t sell may be recycled into other items by being sold in ‘rag bags’.
  • Not too much effort involved on the donator’s side.

Cons:

  • The donated clothes might not sell and will stay in circulation around different branches of the charity shop.
  • Charity shops often send clothes that do not sell to less financially stable countries. Although this may seem to be a positive as the process gives clothes to people who cannot afford many clothes, it can detrimentally affect the local economy. This is due to the local clothes makers being unable to compete with the price and volume of clothes donated.
  • Furthermore, if the clothes are transported abroad this will obviously have a larger carbon footprint due to the act of transporting the items internationally.
  • Some shops put the clothes that they deem to be in an unsaleable condition in the bin, which inevitably goes to landfill.

Clothes selling apps:

depop screenshot for How to sustainably throw out unwanted clothes blog post

Nowadays there is quite a large range of apps and websites that enable you to sell your unloved items directly to another person.

Three of the most popular platforms are: Ebay, Depop and Vinted

Ebay was the original unwanted item selling platform and remains the most used peer to peer selling platform online.

Depop offers a trendy, clothes focused alternative. Most listings include someone wearing the item(s) for sale.

Vinted is another clothing centred platform, however the clothing being sold tends to be a bit lower budget than depop and clothing items are often displayed on hangers or in flat lays.

Pros:

  • Due to the platforms being on the internet, items can be seen by a large amount of people. This means it is more likely for the items to be purchased by someone.
  • Financial gain.
  • Search engine functionality. If someone purchases an item of clothing, it is likely that they have searched for a related term. Therefore, it is likely that the customer desired the clothing you are selling and are probably more likely to make use of the item, as opposed to someone randomly browsing in a shop.

Cons:

  • Quite a bit of effort is involved to make listings for your items. You’ll have to take pictures, write down all of the details, package the item and send it once it has sold.
  • Items may not sell, meaning they remain in your closet!
  • No direct donation to charity. (Unless a campaign is happening).

Clothes Swap:

clothes flatlay 1 with yellow tulips

Why not get some bodacious babes, dashing dudes & anyone else together to host a clothes swap?!

Pick a venue, invite the swappers and bring your clothes.

Pros:

  • You could swap something you loathe for something you love.
  • Lots of fun with your friends and/or family.
  • No picture, descriptions or packaging needed.
  • Social event.
  • You know the people that the clothes are going to.

Cons:

  • If your fellow clothes swap-ees have a different style sense to you, you may end up with the same clothes you came with.
  • On the flip side, you may like so many gorgeous garbs that you end up taking home way more than you came with!
  • People may pick items of clothing to not hurt others feelings, rather than because they actually like the item.



Repurpose into other clothes or items

basket of fabric

If the clothing item is in good nick then you could repurpose it into another style of clothing. For example, if you don’t like the long arms on a dress you could alter the arms into spaghetti straps.

If the clothing is damaged (e.g stained or holey), or you simply cannot be bothered, you could repurpose it into something useful. Some ideas are: rags for cleaning, make up pads, handkerchiefs.

Pros:

  • Turn something that is no longer loved into a super snazzy item. A dress could become a halterneck top or a pillow cover!
  • Gets your creative juices flowing – the satisfaction of making something yourself.
  • You could create an entirely unique item that only you have as you made it.
  • Leaving the house is not necessary!
  • Learn a new skill by repurposing your clothing.

Cons:

  • This approach will likely take the most time out of all of the options mentioned in this article.
  • Skill will be needed to repurpose the item – e.g sewing, knitting.
  • If you are trying to remove things from your house with the idea of minimalism, this will not remove items from your house, it will repurpose them into more useful things!

Clothes recycling:

recycling bin

Whether you plop your clothes in the clothes bins in the supermarket car park, your local recycling centre or a recycling initiative like H&M’s, clothes recycling is the final option on our list that is a much better alternative to sending clothes to landfill.

Pros:

  • Very little effort needed.
  • Your unloved clothing can be repurposed into new items, reducing the demand for new materials.
  • The unwanted Items are definitely removed from your house. With this method there is no risk of the items staying in your closet due to no one purchasing the,.

Cons:

  • Items will be transported from the drop-off to the processing factory to be recycled.
  • A significant amount of energy is needed to repurpose/recycle the items in a factory.

What’s your favourite method of getting rid of clothing you no longer love?

Have you tried any of the methods above?

Share your tips and tricks in the comments! We would love to hear from you!


If you’d like to begin reducing waste in your day-to-day life:

Check out our guide  – 10 simple steps to zero waste 10 simple steps to zero waste pinterest image
Browse eco-friendly & sustainable products in our shop!

How to sustainably throw out unwanted clothes
How to sustainably throw out unwanted clothes

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