Closet Clean-Out Series Part 2: How To Responsibly Recycle the Clothes You Just Don’t Want Anymore


BEFORE READING: Please refer back to the sustainably decluttering your closet blog post! We have some great tips in there on how to get started with sorting out your closet. 

If you've been staying home and bingeing Netflix lately, there’s a chance that you may be drawing some inspo from Marie Kondo to start decluttering your home. Though she is quite literally “sparking” that movement, she doesn’t really talk much about how to dispose or donate unwanted goods in a mindful way. 

Here’s a fact relating back to clothing: A shocking 85% of textiles end up in the landfills. 

If after your initial clean-out you find yourself left with the daunting donate/sell pile, consider these options before throwing out your clothes: 

Still in good condition? 

Consider asking your friends and family if they’d want the pieces (especially if they’ve complimented you wearing it before!). This gives them a second life and prevents them from ending up in the landfill. You can ship these to them (go ahead and turn it into a care package while you’re at it) or save for later as an impromptu gift. 

Have a virtual clothing swap. 

The experience can be the same as the usual clothing swap (made exceptionally better with wine, cheese, or whatever floats your boat) - just from a distance and virtually over FaceTime. Take turns sharing the pieces you have and make note of who wants what. Virtual Happy Hours are more fun with clothes anyways. Just sayin’. 

Order a clean out kit to be mailed to you. 

Many companies offer ways to help you clean out your closet, our favorite being from ThredUP. Fill this with the clothes you don’t want (that are still in good condition and with no alterations made). ThredUp takes photos of your clothes, adds them as listings to their site, and ships them out when they sell. Better yet, you get paid for the items when they sell. The payout percentage for items they take isn’t very high, but the clean out kit is still a good option if you’re just trying to find another home for your unwanted clothes. Basically, it requires minimal effort with a high impact. 

Also, it’s nice to know that the items not accepted are either included in thredUP’s Rescue boxes program or sold to 3rd party sellers, and items not in wearable condition are sent to their textile recycling partners and upcycled!

Pro Tip: ThredUP also has a Donation Clean Out Kit option where they'll give $5 per kit to the charity of your choice including causes like Feeding America, Big Brother Big Sister Foundation, Wardrobe For Opportunity, among others. Nice! 

Save the pieces in a bag or storage box until you know it’s safe to go out. 

If these options just aren’t cutting it, you can either wait until it’s safe again to sell them at consignment shops and/or donate the rest to a homeless shelter, charity, or clothing bank once restrictions have been lifted in your area. For the latter, contact them and ask to make sure you know how they’ll be making use of the goods and if they have a textile recycling system or have a relationship with a textile recycler like TerraCycle. Be sure to steer clear if they send unused goods to a landfill. No thanks. 

Parting Tips. 

To make it more likely your unwanted pieces will find a new home, make sure you’re taking care of your clothes and keeping them in good condition in the first place. You can do this in an eco-friendly way by following the green laundry tips on this guest post I wrote for DoneGood. 

Above all else, make sure to always know where your clothes will actually end up once you decide to remove it from your closet. 

P.S. - How do you like to responsibly recycle your old clothes? Email hello@unseamthelabel.com or DM us on Instagram and let us know!