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What to do with clothes that can't be donated - How to recycle your unwanted clothes

What to do with clothes that can't be donated - How to recycle your unwanted clothes

Originally published 2nd December 2021

At some point clothes reach the end of their natural life. Clothes get damaged, stained, over washed, our bodies change or maybe you Marie Kondo’d your wardrobe, so what can you do with your unwanted clothing?

Of course you could begin by not throwing things away in the first place, or buying key pieces you’ll get years of wear out of it, but even with the best of intentions there comes a time when you’ll want to get rid of something. So what can you do to recycle or repurpose your clothes?

The first option is to donate. There are a lot of Australian charities that accept clothing donations, like the Red Cross. Donations can be made at their stores or charity bins. They also have a partnership with Country Road where donations of CR clothes receive a $10 voucher for their store (you can also do this at country road stores).

Other charities like the RSPCA appreciate donations which they sell in their stores for fundraising initiatives and their shelters accept donations of blankets etc for animals.

Another great option is the Salvos because they make donations very easy through a partnership with Australia Post that allows you to send your donations to them by mail for free. You can even book them to come and collect goods from your house for free.

Please remember though, all donations must be of good quality. If you wouldn’t buy it second hand then there is a good chance they won’t be able to sell it second hand.

If your clothing is not suitable for donation then there are a few other options, like turning clothing into rags and drop cloths, old sheets make great cubby houses, dress ups and Halloween costumes.

But if none of these options are going to work, or they’ve already been repurposed and are now ready for the bin, then give one of these a try. Not only will you be diverting it from landfill, you may even prevent the use of new resources being used in the production of goods that can be manufactured from your recycled products.

In these cases your best option is likely the recycling schemes offered by H&M or Zara. This may sound surprising, but both of these retailers run a recycling program for any unwanted clothing. They accept any and all sorts of clothing, from any brand, like o2wear! They sort through the items and identify anything that can be donated and resold by a charity, but for everything else, they send it off for recycling. Rather than ending up in landfill, your clothing will be recycled and repurposed into other products such as new textiles or insulation and sound proofing for the building and automotive industries. Use the links to their websites to find your nearest store accepting donations. Other brands like Country Road and Uniqlo run their own in-store recycling programs for their own branded used items. 

Always check with the charity first before making a donation so they are not left with the cost of disposing your donation if it is not suitable or usable by them.

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