11 Places Where You Can Responsibly Recycle Clothes for Money
If you don’t need to be asked twice to recycle clothes for money then you’ve come to the right place.
While most won’t give you cold hard cash for your holey sweaters, many provide sweet incentives (store credit, anyone?!).
Better still, you can now recycle clothes online for money—no trip to a store or nearby drop-off location required.
What’s perhaps more of a shock than getting cash in exchange for your ripped jeans is that a measly 15% of textile waste is recycled in the US. The rest?
Either landfills or incinerators welcome the unlucky majority, emitting greenhouse gas emissions and environmental toxins.
Platforms to sell used clothes online are taking a bite out of textile waste, but they don’t solve the problem for items that are no longer wearable or resellable.
That’s where these online services to recycle old clothes come in.
Next time you stuff a coffee-stained t-shirt or an old sock in a trash bag, rather send it to one of these platforms to recycle clothes for cash (or cash equivalent) instead.
Before we dive in, there are some fast fashion facts you should know. Jump to the end of this article to read more about the woes of recycling programs.
*This post contains affiliate links
QUICK LINKS FOR WHERE TO RECYCLE CLOTHES FOR CASH
Recycle Clothes for Money at Knickey
Knickey is one of the most helpful platforms to recycle clothes for money because it’s one of the few that will actually take old underwear.
Through Knickey’s recycling program, more than 500,000 undergarments have been responsibly turned into new materials like carpet padding, furniture batting, and insulation.
They accept bras, undies, tights, and socks for women, men, and kids.
While they don’t give you money outright, you get a free pair of Knickey’s organic underwear with your next purchase.
Money and underwear don’t grow on trees—but we always need both—so they’re practically the same thing, right?
Recycle Clothes for Money at threadUp
Not only one of the best online thrift stores, thredUp is also one of the best brands that recycle clothes for money.
This app/website combo works similar to a consignment shop to pay you for all of the gently used clothes that you no longer use. Just send in a bundle, and you’ll get paid a percentage of the selling price.
For duds that don’t meet threadUp’s strict standards and quality guidelines, the brand will donate or recycle your clothes for you.
While the money from donated products doesn’t end up in your pocket, each bag of donated clothes earns $5 to be distributed to charities like Girls Inc, Feeding America, and more.
3. GIRLFRIEND COLLECTIVE
Recycle Clothes for Money at Girlfriend Collective
Once your Girlfriend Collective leggings, bike shorts, bras, or other sustainable yoga clothes can no longer be worn—at least without showing the yogis behind you a little too much—they provide a way to recycle clothes for money in the USA.
The process is simple.
Buy a shipping label ($7), send back your item (one per shipping label), and receive a $15 store credit for your next purchase.
Your old Girlfriend Collective garments will then get reprocessed into new yarn by their recycling partner, Unifi. This new yarn is then used to make new Girlfriend Collective products.
Available: Girlfriend Collective (US only)
Recycle Clothes for Money at Reformation
Reformation has provided an answer to the question, “Where can you recycle clothes for money?” for nearly a decade.
RefRecycling accepts all Reformation brand ethical jeans, sweaters, shoes, and activewear to be transformed into new garments or, in the case of shoes, into building materials, parking bumpers, and flooring mats.
The shipping label is free, and you’ll be awarded a store credit variable by each type of item:
- Active: $10
- Sweaters: $10
- Denim: $15
- Shoes: $25
Once they know these items can be properly recycled through their partner SuperCircle, they’ll add new items to the list and hope to soon accept those from different brands.
Available: Reformation (US only)
5. EILEEN FISHER
Recycle Clothes for Money at Eileen Fisher
How to recycle clothes for money at Eileen Fisher is easy.
RENEW is the name of their take-back game.
The program accepts old EF clothes, which are either resold in the RENEW line or recycled into new products. Learn more about circularity at EF.
For every item received, they give you a $5 store rewards card.
Available: Eileen Fisher
6. BAXTER WOOD
Recycle Clothes for Money at Baxter Wood
Can you get money for old clothes at Baxter Wood?
No, but you can for old rain boots.
They accept worn-out rubber boots of any kind, style, and size—not limited to BW’s own line of sustainable rain boots.
Print out a free shipping label, drop them off at a USPS package drop, and they take care of the rest.
Sent to a rubber recycling facility in Michigan, they’ll be processed, shredded, and transformed into things like roads, playground surfacing, and kickboxing bag filler.
You’ll get a $30 store credit for each pair, which you can use to buy a new sustainable rain jacket and boots.
Available: Baxter Wood
Recycle Clothes for Money at tonlé
Having an option to recycle clothes for cash was built into this slow fashion brand’s business model.
Not only are tonlé’s clothes made from post-consumer waste, but they want each garment to go through multiple lives via their Open Closet Program
Old tonlé brand clothes can be sent back. “Old” covers a vast range—from rarely worn garments to those with visible damage like stains, tears, and holes.
Those in pristine condition are resold at 60% of the original price, with the customer receiving 40% of the price. If they’re gently loved, the breakdown is 45/30%, and for well-worn garments, 35%/25%.
tonlé will perform any necessary repairs, or, for beyond-repair garments, recycle them into new ones entirely. The original owner still receives 15% of the original retail price, minus the amount of labor required for repairing or recreating it.
Rewards come in the form of points that can be redeemed for tonlé gift cards to put toward a sustainable jumpsuit or any of their other many offerings.
8. ZERO WASTE DANIEL
Recycle Clothes for Money at zero waste daniel
With a name like zero waste daniel, it’s no wonder this zero waste fashion brand provides a means to recycle unwanted clothes.
Their online Buy-Back Program accepts used ZWD garments.
After taking a photo of the front and back of the garment and emailing it to the brand, they’ll send a prepaid label.
Once they receive it, you receive $5, $10, $20, or $30 per garment that can be used on new purchases.
Available: zero waste daniel
9. FOR DAYS
Recycle Clothes for Money at For Days
If you’ve been wondering for days where to recycle clothes for cash, here’s your answer!
Just fill the For Days Take Back Bag with clothes from any brand in any condition, and send it in.
Once received, the sender gets Closet Cash to spend on For Days’ circular clothing.
Every bag saves the equivalent of 27,000 gallons of water, 197 pounds of CO2 emissions, and 25 pounds of textiles from entering landfills.
For Days is one of the most transparent we’ve seen. Here’s what they say happens to clothes sent in for recycling:
- If it’s a For Days garment (which are built to be circular), it can be recycled into a new For Days garment.
- Otherwise, if they can be resold, they are sent to resale partners. Some of these are exported overseas which is not ideal but better than landfill.
- If they can’t be resold they are converted into downcycled products like insulation and carpeting.
- Around 5% gets sent to landfill if they can’t be sold or downcycled (sad but a reality of all recycling programs).
Available: For Days
Recycle Clothes for Money at Patagonia
Thanks to their Worn Wear program, Patagonia makes it easy to recycle your clothes for cash.
They accept any of their own sustainable outdoor clothing for men, women, kids, and babies, as well as Patagonia branded sustainable backpacks and gear.
For higher-priced items like luggage and jackets, you can get $60 or even $100 in store credit for recycling your clothes.
However, items must be in gently-used, still-wearable (or at least repairable) condition.
You can still mail in items that are beyond wear or repair, but these will be responsibly recycled or repurposed.
In this case, there is no compensation, but case-dependent, you may receive a replacement product instead, as per Patagonia’s IronClad Guarantee.
Recycle Clothes for Money at UPPAREL
Australian B Corp, UPPAREL is the real deal for clothing recycling in Australia.
To date they have saved almost 4.5 million items and diverted almost 700,000kg from landfill.
They offer both clothes recycling and sock recycling.
These garments are either donated (if resaleable), repurposed by one of their many partners or once sorted by color and fabric, recycled into new yarn or downcycled products like mattress filler.
They charge you a collection fee based on the weight and size of your items, starting at AU$25 for a single box (10kg).
When you purchase a collection, they offer AU$25 in store credit to spend on their upcycled products.
UPPAREL can also act as a third party recycling provider through their Upcircle program for several other brands.
Available: UPPAREL (Australia only)
What You Need To Know Before You Recycle Clothes For Cash
Take-back schemes are an essential component of a circular fashion system – and let’s be clear, circular fashion is where we need to head if we want fashion to be truly sustainable.
It’s important then to ensure the recycling process is done as effectively as possible. Let’s look at how it’s done today:
How do clothes recycling or take-back schemes work?
Typically a participating fashion brand will be the point of collection for used clothing that needs to be recycled.
They then pass on these items to a third party provider who does the actual work of recycling the clothes.
This involves first sorting the clothes in a type of triage system based on their quality and the materials they’re made from:
- Resale via the brand itself (as a second hand product) or via a thrift store like ThredUp.
- Repurpose into things like cleaning materials.
- Recycled where the fabrics are shredded and then made into other products – typically not into new clothing unfortunately (unless the fabrics are easily identifiable and not blended) .
What’s working well with clothes recycling schemes today?
Impressive amounts of textiles are being diverted from landfills into these schemes and that’s a significant first step.
According to WRAP, 620,000 tonnes of textiles were collected in the UK alone for re-use and recycling, though this includes clothing given to charities for resale.
Fast fashion brands have easily collected colossal volumes. H&M collected 18,800 tonnes of unwanted clothing last year.
We can gleam from this that collection and willingness to recycle clothes is working quite well, given this is a relatively new movement.
What’s not working?
Despite giving ourselves a pat on the back above for collectively redirecting textile waste from landfill, it’s still a drop in the ocean.
The USA for example doesn’t seem to have shifted their textile recycling rate much between 2010 and 2018, according to the EPA.
In terms of processing these collections of unwanted clothing, there are several issues to be aware of:
Clothes triaged for resale:
Clothes deemed good enough for resale are often donated to charities. The second hand clothing industry has a volume problem – far too many clothes are funneled into charity shops and thrift stores around the world.
Sadly this results in a portion of these clothes being ultimately sent to landfill or exported overseas (which comes with a whole array of ethical and environmental problems).
The point is, it’s difficult to track where these clothes actually end up.
Textile recycling is difficult to get right. Your average piece of clothing is typically a blend of various fabrics, making it tricky to recycle into brand new yarn.
While new innovations seem promising, the majority of textiles that get recycled are turned into other products like insulation and homewares – which is impressive but far from truly circular fashion at scale.
Greenwashing and overconsumption:
A further complaint of the clothes takeback and recycling programs is that fashion brands can use a take back program as a form of greenwashing without taking meaningful steps toward a sustainable fashion future.
Separately, store credit for returning unwanted clothing can encourage further unnecessary consumerism, which is exactly what we’re trying to avoid.
How to consume and recycle clothes for money, ethically
While, there’s no silver bullet to this problem, we believe we can all do the following to reduce the impact of our consumption:
- Do continue to recycle your clothing – while it’s not perfect, it’s better than nothing. But do so with a brand who will ensure that the clothing actually gets recycled (the brands listed above are a good place to start).
- Just don’t buy stuff. We’ve all heard it before but let this be a reminder: do you really need it? Reducing the amount of clothes we buy to begin with is absolutely essential to reducing the fashion problem.
- Buy second hand – a lot of the brands on this list offer second hand gear that others have returned. Start there if you need to spend your store credit.
- If you need to buy new, buy consciously. Buy only what you need and focus as much as possible on clothing made from sustainable fabrics that can be more easily recycled like organic cotton.
Final Thoughts On Platforms To Recycle Clothes For Money
Where can you take your old clothes for cash or cash equivalents?
There are many options for what to do with old clothes that don’t involve polluting our planet.
Regardless of their fate, it’s important we consumers and brands prioritize ways to keep precious textiles out of landfills and incinerators.
Embracing circularity and zero waste ideals are essential for a sustainable fashion industry.
Close the loop on textile waste and share this article with someone in your life who’s been accumulating a pile of unworn clothing or paring down to a minimalist wardrobe.
Maybe they’ll even use some of their credit to treat you to a new-to-you garment.