To Dispose or Donate?
At the start of every new season, we often find ourselves taking inventory of our wardrobes and seeing which unused clothing we’ve not worn in years. Despite aiming for a capsule collection and trying to get the most out of our wardrobe, there always seems to be excess clothing, hats and mittens, and even unused linens and towels that could use a second home.
With the fashion industry being one of the most polluting industries in the world, it’s important to minimize our environmental impact which includes properly disposing or passing on our unused items to ensure they don’t go straight to landfills. Over 90% of clothing right now is thrown out before it needs to be, which means so many clothing items could be given a second life or given to someone in need.
Sorting through excess clothing can be a daunting task. By the end of the process we’re often just wondering the best way to get rid of clothes and opt for the closest donation bin, give it to friends and family or head to the dump if the unused clothing is dated or marked. With so many different standards put in place by different charities or different township rules as to what can be disposed of and certain sustainable clothing being compostable… well getting rid of old clothes can feel more like a chore and less like the spring cleaning/Marie Kondo experience we had envisioned.
To ease any stress and help you seamlessly navigate the process so you’re no longer wondering what to do with clothes you don't wear anymore, we’ve come up with 6+ ways to responsibly get rid of clothes.
Getting Rid of Clothes
1. Sell It
If you’re looking to get rid of clothes that are in good condition and have the resources to sell online, posting to second hand retail websites can be a great way to get rid of old clothes and even make some money along the way.
Wondering where to sell unused clothing and which second hand websites you can trust for a seamless sustainable online selling experience? We have you covered!
Poshmark is our staff pick for selling unused or excess clothing. The Poshmark app and website are very user friendly whether you’re selling or buying, and with around 50 million users there’s lots of people looking for sustainable ways to buy clothes. Note, the website does take a fee from your sale, so be sure to read the terms and conditions when you sign up.
Another second hand website, Depop is very similar to Poshmark, however the platform is more popular for trendy, statement pieces. Note, this website also takes a percentage of your sale so be sure to factor this in when pricing your item.
Facebook Marketplace is a great way to sell your unused clothing when you don’t know what to do with clothes you don’t wear anymore. If you already have a Facebook account the process is seamless for posting online and unlike other online sites, Facebook does not take a portion of your sale.
If your Encircled clothing is still in good condition, you can sell or trade it in our Facebook group, the Encircled Community.
Tips for Selling Online
To help improve your experience and success of selling online, we recommend that you wash all your clothing items before-hand and take clear, well lit pictures to post online. Provide a clear and concise description of the item with measurements and if you’re not sure what price to charge, look to see what similar items have been listed for.
If you feel more comfortable selling your clothes in person, consignment shops are a great option! Consignment stores purchase pre-owned items from consumers and re-sell them in their stores. Search consignment shops near you online or call to speak with the store manager to learn which items they’re currently accepting for sales. Typically these stores shop seasonally and let you know which specific pieces they’re looking to buy. Through this sustainable method of getting rid of old clothing you’re able to make a few dollars and even support a local business - it’s a win-win! Remember to bring in unused clothing that has been cleaned and has minimal signs of wear.
When in doubt, donate your never worn clothing. What many people don’t know is that clothing charities are actually huge textile recyclers and resellers. Of donated clothing, 50% of it is re-sold, 45% is downcycled and only 5% is sent to a landfill (source). Many clothing charities will take anything as a donation. They’ll even take damaged items, including your solo shoe, or shirt with a ripped sleeve.
If you’re looking to get rid of old towels, linens and blankets that aren’t too damaged, try calling your local animal shelter to see if they’re accepting donations. Oftentimes extra blankets are needed for the animals!
Here are some great places to donate:
3. Yard Sale / Garage Sale
If you prefer selling your clothes in person or if you have so many clothes to get rid of that posting online is a daunting task, organizing a yard sale is a great way to sell both your unused clothing and household items.
To increase the amount of foot traffic that stops by, we suggest a community yard sale with your neighbours who may also be looking to get rid of clothing.
4. Dispose in Compost or Recycle
If your clothing is made of natural fibres like cotton, you may be able to compost your old clothes! Look at the label on your unused or old clothing item to determine if it is 100% natural material and if so, cut it up into smaller pieces and add it to your food compost for a sustainable disposal method.
If your clothing is not made up of 100% natural fibres, check with your city as some are starting to implement textile recycling programs to ensure your clothing finds a new life as something else, like insulation.
5. Give to Family and Friends
Have family or friends that are a similar size or are savvy with sewing machines? Get rid of your old clothing by giving it to family members who may use or wear the items. If you have kids, ask neighbours or friends if their kids are in need of any new items. Organizing clothing swaps with friends is also a great way to get rid of old clothing you don’t wear anymore and sustainably ‘shop’ your friends' wardrobes to mix and match pieces.
6. Repair or Upcycle
The most sustainable thing you can do for your wardrobe, your wallet and the planet is to keep what you already have and find a second use for it. If you have any clothing items or textiles that you want to get rid of, consider if they can be repaired, altered or upcycled (turning a once unusable item into a new object, giving it a second life).
Missing a button? Small hole? Checkout our 4 basic sewing repairs tutorial. Don’t feel like doing the repair yourself? There are tailors, seamstresses, shoemakers, and even watch repair places to fix anything on your list and a host full of ways to give old items new life like turning old t-shirts into rags or old jeans into denim shorts.
What’s your favourite way to get rid of your unused clothing? Have you ever bought second hand or organized a clothing swap? Let us know in the comments below!