Give Old Clothes a Second Chance

posted 7/26/2017

Now that summer is winding down, many kids (and their parents) are getting ready for school to start. And, although it happens every year, we still seem to associate going back to school with buying tons of new stuff, including new school clothes. With all the new duds coming in, where does the old, outgrown clothing go? According to, 85 percent of our clothing in North America ends up in landfills. That is more than 10 million tons of clothing per year!  

Clothing can be given away or recycled in many ways. Really, when you think of those statistics, it’s the only smart choice, but it’s also important to do it right. Old clothing is not accepted in curbside recycling carts, but can find a new home other places.

Three Brilliant Tips You May Have Missed to Recycle Clothing

  • Use Social Media – Use social media to give away or sell your unwanted clothing. Facebook now has a feature called Marketplace that is simple and easy to use. On a mobile device, a button at the center bottom of your Facebook window allows you to enter the marketplace, which automatically pulls in offers from the local area and allows you to list items of your own. Not only is this incredibly easy for you, but your stuff (like unwanted clothing) goes directly to a person who wants and needs it. Many other social media applications offer similar programs to sell or give away your stuff. It’s a great time of year to market kids' outgrown clothing on social media sites because more and more families are using second-hand resources to outfit their kids for school.
  • Donate the Right Stuff – Donating your used clothing to a charity or thrift store is a great option, but be sure to find out what they do and do not accept first. Clothing drop boxes usually have the information written somewhere on the container regarding what items are accepted – some are exclusively for clothing, while others will take additional items. If you donate items that an organization does not accept, then you are probably dooming your stuff for a trip to the landfill rather than finding it a good second life.
  • Don’t Throw Away Damaged or Unusable Clothing – Americans are buying five times more clothes today than they were 20 years ago. Unfortunately, much of today’s clothing isn’t made to last – it is made to be inexpensive and is of such poor workmanship it doesn’t even make it a full season. But that does not mean it needs to go in the garbage – damaged clothing can also be donated. Many of the larger charity organizations like Goodwill and the Salvation Army sort their clothing donations into three distinct recycling streams: clothing that’s good enough to sell in America, clothing that gets baled up and sold overseas in bulk, and clothing that gets cut up to be sold as rags or shredded to be used as fiberfill. Call and ask before you donate damaged clothing to be sure it is accepted. Check out our Recycling Guide to find other organizations who accept clothing.

Following these three strategies will help you give old clothes a second chance rather than discarding them and having them end up in a landfill. You can feel good knowing your old stuff is getting into the hands of someone who really wants and needs it, and you are not contributing to the massive textile waste problem we face today.

For more information about safe, smart disposal and recycling options, visit or call 515.244.0021.