Giving Your Clothes New Life

With spring cleaning on everyone’s minds, we are more conscious than ever about the things we own. Many times, we are often left wondering what to do with clothes that no longer fit or have already seen their share of wear and tear. Luckily, there are more than enough ways to be mindful and sustainable when ridding ourselves of what we no longer need - here are 10 ways we can give our clothes a second life and make an impact.

1. Host a garage sale & donate the proceeds

We’re feeling nostalgic thinking back to our neighborhood block parties and garage sales - and these small town events are a fun and easy way to give away your old clothes and turn a profit. If possible, we encourage you to donate the proceeds to organizations like the ACLU, Planned Parenthood, or your local branch of the International Rescue Committee.

2. Directly support those in need locally

If you’re looking to support refugees, newly immigrated families, or those seeking shelter with community programs or churches, there are many resources out there to find the best place for you. Not sure where to start? This list of organizations nationwide supporting refugees was started by Sloane Davidson and can be filtered by geographical area.

3. Donate clothes to retailers & receive a discount

Businesses today are become more socially-conscious than ever before, and many companies will now accept donated clothes in exchange for store credit or a discount. Some of our favorites include B-Corp Reformation which utilizes textile recycling, or through Madewell which turns your old denim into housing insulation for local communities in need and gives you $20 off your next pair. There’s also one of our favorite ethical brands CUYANA, which sends you a pre-labeled bag to fill with clothes for their nonprofit partner H.E.A.R.T. and you’ll receive a $10 credit on your next order.

4. Seek out local organizations

We all know about the Salvation Army and Goodwill, but often times, there are local chapters of nonprofits that could use our excess clothing. Community organizations like Dress for Success, Career Gear, and Back On My Feet can often times accept gently-used clothing or shoes to those in need of a fresh start. Many organizations will also include a wishlist of their biggest wants and needs, and of course these donations will be tax-deductible.

5. Thrift it up

One of my favorite bargain-hunting methods is to head to the local thrift shop, especially those that support communities in need. Thrift stores like Housing Works or Habitat ReStore will often times partner with churches or nonprofit organizations to better the lives of those they serve - if you’re not sure where to look, a quick Google search in your area should get you started!

6. Clothing swap with friends & family

What is more fun than inviting your loved ones over for a traditional clothing swap? Have each attendee bring at least 5-10 pieces they no longer wear that are still in good condition, set out some appetizers and drinks, and get the party started! You can even heighten the anticipation with some photos beforehand of what you’re giving away! Everyone will walk away with a new wardrobe and feel even more excited for the next time around.

7. Textile recycling

We all have those one pair of jeans that we’ve worn the life out of, or that shirt we just couldn’t bear to part with until they had holes in the sleeves. If your clothing is ruined and no longer wearable, consider donating to your local textile recycling program. Americans discard over 10 million tons of unwanted fabric per year, contributing to waste in landfills and harming the environment - most of these fabrics, however, can be recycled into something new through programs like GrowNYC or the Bay Area’s USAgain.

8. DIY it into something new

Turn your clothing into something else functional, whether that’s a rug, quilt, or grocery store bag. You can easily turn your old shirts into a rug using a hula hoop or through weaving, and services like Project Repat transforms your tees into a quilt, while providing fair wages and US-based jobs. Worst case scenario? Use them as rags around the house - they’re durable, easy to wash and reuse, and free.

9. DIY it into something old

If you’re in love with your clothes despite their holes and tears, you can always patch them up or create a new style out of them! Transform your jean jacket into the effortless vest, or cut the bottoms of your jeans and add some lace to make shorts in time for warmer weather. A simple sewing class online or workshop will give you all the tools you need to revitalize your most beloved pieces.

10. Consign & resell

If the pieces you’re looking to give away still have tags or are barely worn, you can quickly throw them on a site like Tradesy or thredUP and make money without ever leaving your home. These sites will offer you a payout for each piece, and all you have to do is then ship the item - easy and efficient! If you’d like to sell them in person, stop by Plato’s Closet or similar businesses.