Fall Wardrobe Need a Refresh? Swap, Donate or Recycle Those Duds

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The air is crisper, the days are shorter and sweater weather is surely upon us. As you’re making room for all those cool-season clothes in your closet, take the opportunity to free yourself of items you no longer wear.

That shrunken tank top or over-ruffled blouse may be just what another shopper needs to avoid buying new, and you’ll enjoy the satisfaction that comes with unloading the stuff you don’t want or need. Here are some recycling solutions that may surprise you, from selling trendy fashions online to diverting damaged clothing from landfills.

Selling on-trend apparel online

We all have a few pieces of name-brand or still-trendy clothing in the closet that we simply don’t wear anymore. Maybe it was a gift or online purchase gone awry, or perhaps those skinny jeans simply aren’t your size or style anymore. Whatever the reason, you can make a pretty penny by selling your unwanted styles to other fashionistas online. Check out these resources to get you started.

1. SwapStyle.com
SwapStyle.com allows you to easily swap all your used fashions in good condition for other outfits that are more your style. Simply create a SwapStyle profile, take photos of your clothes and start swapping for free. In addition to women’s wear, the site features kids’ and maternity clothes, shoes and accessories.

As the name implies, SwapStyle doesn’t offer direct cash payouts for your used fashions, but you can get new-to-you clothing and accessories for free simply by offering up your old ones to other users. Sorry to all you trendy guys out there, but SwapStyle does not include menswear.

2. Poshmark
It takes less than a minute to list an item on Poshmark, which offers up to 70 percent off retail prices. Categories range from clothes for women and men to handbags and accessories. Some of the most popular brands include Nike, Lululemon, Chanel and Michael Kors.

Donating gently used duds

Well-known thrift stores like Goodwill and The Salvation Army are the most likely candidates for clothing donations. But if you’d like to explore other options for your gently used duds, there are plenty to choose from. Here are four to get you started.

1. American Red Cross
Clothing donated to the Red Cross helps provide relief to natural disaster victims around the world, from the Gulf Coast to Japan. The Red Cross provides convenient donation bins throughout the U.S.

2. AmVets
To serve American veterans and their families, the nonprofit AmVets Career Centers Inc. offers career training for vets and active-duty service members across the country. The organization also funds scholarships for vets and their families and provides health care kits for hospitalized veterans.

AmVets notes on its website that gently used clothing is in particularly high demand — meaning your donation can have a big impact on veterans in need. The organization offers free clothing pickup services in select communities, but you can also mail in your donation if you’re outside the pickup area.

3. Career Gear and Dress for Success
Both Career Gear and Dress for Success provide gently used business attire and toiletries to unemployed, low-income men and women who need outfits for job interviews.

Everything from suits to dress shoes is accepted, and you can easily drop off your donation at the affiliate nearest you or mail in your clothing if you can’t find one in your neighborhood. Dress for Success accepts women’s clothing and accessories, while Career Gear serves men.

4. Soles 4 Souls
Founded in 2004, Soles 4 Souls is a global not-for-profit that collects all types of shoes and distributes them to people in need in more than 125 countries. Since its inception, the organization has distributed more than 17 million pairs of shoes around the world. Visit Soles 4 Souls online to find out how to donate.

Recycling worn-out clothing

Worn-out clothing can be a bit of a head-scratcher. You hate to throw those damaged duds in the trash, but it can seem wrong to donate them to a local charity. Earlier this year, Earth911’s Kathryn Sukalich got to the bottom of the worn-out clothes debate once and for all, and the verdict may surprise you.

Sukalich spoke to Michael Meyer, vice president of donated retail goods at Goodwill Industries International Inc., who said the organization gladly accepts clothing regardless of wear and tear.

“We take all textiles in any condition,” he told Earth911. “All those textiles end up in our system, and they’re sorted to determine where they will land.”

Clothing that is not suitable for resale often becomes wiping and polishing cloths or is converted into fibers for things like upholstery, insulation and furniture stuffing, according to Secondary Materials and Recycled Textiles (SMART), a nonprofit trade association of companies that recycle these materials.

For more information on the fate of worn-out clothing, check out the full story here. If you’re still not comfortable bringing your damaged duds to Goodwill, visit SMART online for additional resources.

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Mary Mazzoni

Mary Mazzoni

Mary is a lifelong vegetarian and enjoys outdoor activities like hiking, biking and relaxing in the park. When she’s not outside, she’s probably watching baseball. She is a former assistant editor for Earth911.
Mary Mazzoni