Get rid of your old clothes responsibly

We’re having a strange year, aren’t we? And since so many of us have been at home, we’ve been decluttering like never before. I don’t know about you, but I am yet to clear away all the bags of clothes I have decluttered out of the house. Here’s how to handle them, responsibly.

Hand your unwanted clothes down or swap

If your clothes are in good condition, offer them up to family and friends either as hand-me-downs or offer to swap for something they might no longer want. The only condition here is that they actually want your old garments, otherwise you’re running a risk of them being disposed of in a way you might not want to see them disposed in.

Alternative to offering them up to your own kin is handing them over to a charity of your choice. Please ensure you are handing over clean items in good condition only.

Sell your unwanted clothes on

Alternative to giving items up is of course monetising them. I like this option for the lower end designer and more popular high street brands I am disposing of. My platform of choice is eBay, but there are probably plenty of other options you can chose from, depending on which country you live in.

For anything ‘high end’ I tend to speak to vintage shops or sell my pre-loved items via specialised designer secondhand platforms, notably the most spoken about one right now being RealReal, but Vestiaire Collectove, Depop and others also offer good options. For high street items Gumtree and Facebook Marketplace are great for selling bundles. Vinted is also a known name but their T&Cs raise a brow for me and after selling with them just once I deleted my account.

For clothes which are usable and clean but you can’t give them away or sell them yourself, a number of companies are willing to purchase clothing by weight. These ‘rag & bone’ buyers are typically purchasing on behalf of second-hand shops located in other countries – it’s not ideal but I’d rather that than landfill.

Recycle your old clothes responsibly (and in exchange for money)

In the UK there are a couple of ways to recycle clothing. You can either simply put them into donation bins at your nearest garment recycling spot or you can recycle them through an in-store recycling programmes. My preference is for the in-store recycling. There is a handful available, but since I like to talk about things I actually lived through, here are the ones I used:

H&M – for every bag of clean clothes the chain offers a voucher for £5 off from your next £30 shop. It also works on recycling responsibly, reusing and upcycling your old garments. If your H&M is particularly busy, call up beforehand and ask if they have room to take your donation. My nearest one can be busy even in the midst of a pandemic.

Marks & Spencer – their Shwopping initiative is based on a partnership with Oxfam. Clothes dropped off at M&S will be moved to Oxfam centres where they are triaged and handled so that nothing goes to landfill. The initiative also works the other way – if you happen to have items from M&S, if you drop them off at Oxfam they’ll reward you with £5 off a £35 purchase towards your next M&S shop in clothes and homewares section.

If you are aware of any other nifty ways to dispose of your old garments without sending them to landfill, share them in the comments.

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