How & Where to Recycle Old Clothes: 17 Brands Recycling Your Textiles
Wondering where to recycle old clothes?
Good! More of us should, as just 1% of clothing is currently recycled worldwide.
The vast majority of our once-favorited clothing collection ends up burning in incinerators—or burning our planet as it slowly degrades in landfills.
Fortunately, between nonprofit clothes recycling programs and retailers with clothing recycling programs, it’s getting easier to lay old duds to rest responsibly.
Even if too worn to sell clothes online, your pair-less socks and coffee-stained sweaters can still be put to good use.
So, which companies have recycling programs for clothes?
Let’s clear out the closet and find out.
QUICK LINKS FOR WHERE TO RECYCLE OLD CLOTHES
Companies that Offer Recycling Programs for Clothes
Brands that Recycle Clothes for You
Companies that Offer Recycling Programs for Clothes
About Freecycle for Recycling Old Clothes
Next time you search for “recycled old clothes near me,” check out Freecycle instead.
With grassroots groups scattered all around the world, Freecycle makes it easy to turn trash into treasure—either for straight reuse or to be upcycled into something totally new and unique.
It’s free to post anything and local members will get notified of your listing. Sharing a picture helps, too.
Just tell them where and when to pick up your old clothes and—voila—landfill averted.
Using Freecycle, anyone can both give and get used items completely free.
2. TRASH NOTHING
About Trash Nothing’s Online Clothes Recycling
Where can you recycle old clothes?
Nearly any and everywhere—thanks to modern technology.
Like Freecycle, Trash Nothing has an impressive online network of 8 million people from around the globe who are giving and getting free things.
Just post an item (with photos), choose a recipient, arrange a pick-up, and feel good about giving those old threads a new lease on life.
Available: Trash Nothing
3. RETOLD RECYCLING
About Retold Recycling’s Service for Recycling Old Clothes
Help add to the already 20 tons of textiles Retold Recycling has diverted from landfills.
You can fill their bright yellow bags as full or minimally as you’d like with almost any kind of clean and dry textile—towels, sheets, odd socks, “even your old underpants”. Then just mail it back using the prepaid label included.
Depending on the condition, items will be distributed among thrift stores, charities, upcyclers, or on rare occasions, offshore recycling companies.
Either way, they’re a #nolandfill company.
You can either order one-time bags or join their subscription service and receive a bag quarterly. The latter will earn you rewards (~$15 per bag).
As members of the No Issue Eco Packaging Alliance, the bags are made of compostable cornstarch and mailed via carbon offset shipping.
Available: Retold Recycling
4. BUY NOTHING FACEBOOK GROUPS
About Buy Nothing’s Clothing Recycling Programs on Facebook
Making use of the convenience Facebook provides, many are turning to “Buy Nothing” Facebook groups.
Like some of these other programs, local community members can establish a group to allow people to give, lend, or receive items for free.
You can either spread the word about old clothes you have or see a post of someone asking for old clothes for crafts, donations, etc.
Find one in your area by searching “Buy Nothing” and the name of your town or neighborhood. If nothing shows up, start one!
For those who don’t use Facebook, there’s a Buy Nothing app, too.
Available: Facebook | Buy Nothing Project (find a group or download the app)
About Terracycle Used Clothes Recycling Service
If you’re in doubt on how to recycle old clothes (or anything else), TerraCycle will come to your recycling rescue.
From complex laboratory waste to coffee pods, you can recycle almost anything under the sun with this organization.
Hard-to-recycle items are their forte, so recycling fabrics and clothing with them is a breeze.
To recycle used clothes with TerraCycle, get friends or family together and share the cost of a Zero Waste Box, in small, medium, and large sizes.
They’ll send it to you, you load it up with items to recycle, and ship it back using the prepaid return label.
They take care of sorting the fibers and fabrics by type. Natural textiles are turned into “shoddy” (insulation) while synthetic fabrics become pellets and eventually new plastic products.
About Helpsy: One of the Companies that Recycle Clothes
Helpsy is a for-profit Certified B Corp that specializes in recycling old clothes, footwear, linens, and accessories.
With more than 1,800 collection containers, they’re the largest clothing collector in the Northeast US—with free options for both drop-off and home pickup.
95% of what they collect is reused or recycled in some capacity. 20% is recycled into rags for industrial use, stuffing, or insulation.
If you’re a business that wants to help your community with where to recycle old clothes, you can get involved by Hosting a Bin for free on your property.
Available: Helpsy (Northeast US)
7. WEARABLE COLLECTIONS
About Wearable Collections’ NYC Textile Recycling Company
For items you can’t donate to NYC thrift stores, think: Wearable Collections.
This charitable clothing collector has been servicing the city for nearly two decades, keeping millions of garments out of landfills.
With collection hubs in commercial residential buildings, permanent neighborhood bins, clothing drives at schools and organizations, and a presence at 8 weekly Greenmarkets, they make it easy for New Yorkers wondering where to recycle worn out clothing.
So easy, in fact, that you can pay $20 and schedule a Friday pickup from your home.
Partnering with two industry leaders, they maximize the reuse of every garment collected.
The goal is to “maximize the collections of usable clothing”. For the ~50% that is not usable (AKA damaged or not wearable), they convert into rags or feedstock for new fiber products, successfully keeping 96% of collected textiles in use in some capacity.
Available: Wearable Collections (New York only)
8. SHAREWEAR CLOTHING SCHEME
About Sharewear Clothing Scheme’s Clothes Recycling Program UK
If you’re in the UK and wondering where to recycle old clothes near you, the charity Sharewear is your answer.
They have various donation points in Nottingham and can accept postal donations, details about which can be found on their website.
They accept high-quality clothing and footwear of all sizes and for all genders.
Items donated are put in the hands of the 14 million UK residents in need of free-of-charge clothing.
Available: Sharewear (UK only)
About B.R.A.’s Old Undergarment Recycling
Unless buying all organic bras, this type of undergarment is notoriously difficult to recycle. Between the padding and underwire, they contain many unique materials.
The Bra Recycling Agency (B.R.A.) has found a way to keep brassieres out of landfills.
They pulverize, magnetize, and carpet-ize—recycling the steel underwire and turning the rest into carpet padding.
B.R.A. is a Women-owned Enterprise and they donate all proceeds from the metal recycling to breast cancer research.
Bra-wearers can recycle one bra for free, or get a package that allows for the recycling of an unlimited number of bras.
So get your gal-pals together and get ready to clean out that old sustainable lingerie.
Brands that Recycle Clothes for You
About thredUP’s Textile Recycling Program
You may know thredUp as being one of the best online thrift stores, but they’re also a responsible resource for clothes that don’t meet their new-closet-criteria.
When you get a free Clean Out Kit to send your gently used clothes in, you’ll receive a percentage of the sales price for items they accept.
Due to their high standards, however, about 60% of items aren’t accepted.
Aware that charities are already burdened by too many of our discards, they work with a network of vetted recyclers to responsibly recycle the rest.
“Vetted” means they adhere to the brand’s Aftermarket Partner Code of Conduct: transparency, integrity, respect for developing nations, and awareness of environmental impact.
Ultimately, thredUP does what they can to keep your old jeans, jackets, and tees out of landfills.
About tonlé’s Mail In Textile Recycling
tonlé is a slow fashion brand that makes zero waste fashion from pre-consumer waste.
On the other end of the supply chain, they minimize textile waste through their Open Closet Program, through which gently-used tonlé garments can be sent back for resale.
If they’re in perfect condition, gently loved, or well-worn, you can get 40%, 30%, or 25% of the sale price, respectively (minus any repair costs).
If they can’t be resold, they’re either reconstructed into a new garment or responsibly recycled.
Whether they’re resold or recycled, the brand will still recognize you as a tonlé activist, providing you with points that can go towards a gift card.
12. GIRLFRIEND COLLECTIVE
About Girlfriend Collective’s Answer to How to Recycle Old Clothes
It’s hard for sustainable yoga clothes to (hand)stand the test of time. As much as you may try to stretch their lives, elastane and spandex eventually give out.
Fortunately, Girlfriend Collective provides a way to recycle them.
With their Recycle. Reuse. ReGirlfriend. program, you buy the shipping label, send back your unused GC garment, and get $15 store credit.
Not only will you have some spending money for your new sports bra or pair of leggings, but you can rest assured your old one will be recycled into something new.
Available: Girlfriend Collective (US only)
13. HANKY PANKY
About Hanky Panky’s Underwear Recycling Program
If you’re ready to break up with your old intimates, Hanky Panky has a program for that.
Their LingerieCycle is one of the best clothing recycling programs for unwanted bras, underwear, or socks from any brand.
They work with Green Tree, a non-profit committed to preventing your t-EX-tile material from entering landfills.
Some things just aren’t meant to be, but you can feel good about your old intimates finding new love in the form of industrial insulation.
There are other fish in the sea, and $10 in Panky Points will help you find them.
Available: Hanky Panky
About Patagonia’s Old Clothing Recycling Program
Thanks to their Worn Wear program, Patagonia’s helps with how to recycle worn out clothing.
If you have old Patagonia-brand sustainable outdoor clothing, sustainable backpacks, or other gear, they’ll accept it—no ifs, ands, or buts.
If the items are higher-priced or in good condition (at least repairable), you’ll receive up to $100 in-store credit.
For lower-priced items, payment tiers are based on the original selling price.
For items no longer resellable or repairable, you can still send them to be responsibly recycled. You won’t get store credit, but you will know your old parka won’t end up in a landfill.
In fact, it’ll probably end up in another Patagonia piece, since they’re making the switch to exclusively recycled and renewable materials, and working out how to chemically or mechanically recycle products made of mixed fabrics.
They currently recycle almost 7,000 pounds of products every year.
Available: Patagonia Worn Wear
Recycle Clothes with Knickey
Here to quell the idea that no one wants your old undies, Knickey is one of the only solutions for the age-old question: what to do with old underwear.
Their Recycling Program has already accepted more than 500,000 ready-to-retire intimates.
The women’s, men’s, and kid’s bras, undies, socks, and tights are responsibly transformed into new things, like furniture batting, carpet padding, and insulation.
You’ll receive a pair of free organic underwear with your next order as thanks.
16. EILEEN FISHER
Eileen Fisher’s Recycling Program for Clothes
As if offering ethical plus size clothing isn’t enough to change the fashion world for the better, Eileen Fisher also helps to keep it in use for longer.
Their RENEW program accepts gently used clothes from the brand.
Garments are sorted and excellent-condition pieces are sustainably cleaned (using a closed-loop system) and resold in the RENEW line.
Those with too many stains, holes, and other signs of wear are used to create one-of-a-kind artwork using a custom felting technique.
As a place to recycle clothes for money, they’ll give you $5 in Renew Rewards for every piece, regardless if it’s resold or recycled.
Available: Eileen Fisher
Recycle Old Clothes with Pact
Pact answers the question of how to recycle old clothing with perhaps the simplest solution yet.
Just send it back in the very same box your new sustainable basics and fair trade pajama haul came in.
Not only does the packaging get a second use, but your clothes do, too.
Their Give Back Box® program accepts clothing, shoes, accessories, and jewelry from any brand and distributes them to local nonprofits.
WHY SHOULD YOU USE CLOTHING RECYCLING PROGRAMS?
Our planet absolutely needs us to recycle old clothes.
We’re wearing them out at much faster rates than ever before. Made poorly with cheaper materials, holes, fading colors, and unraveling threads are more common, too.
In the US, more than 32 billion garments are produced annually; 65% of them end up in landfills.
Across the pond in the UK, textiles are considered the biggest landfill polluter.
Globally, a total of 92 million tons of clothing and textiles end up in landfills every year (think: a garbage truck dumping a load of clothes every second).
The good news is that just by returning one garment back into the circular economy (to be made into clothes, art, or insulation), you can reduce its carbon footprint by 82%.
FINAL THOUGHTS ON HOW TO RECYCLE OLD CLOTHES
While many of us are familiar with our local thrift stores, it’s all too common that we run into the problem of how to recycle old clothes that can’t be donated.
That’s where these clothing recycling programs come in.
Not only can you feel good about giving that stained and holey t-shirt a second life, but in some cases, you get a financial incentive for doing so.
But to avoid the question of what to do with old clothes, the best thing we can do is to first minimize the number of clothes we own.
A minimalist wardrobe is by far the best look for our planet, so do what you can to keep your closet capsule-size.
And let’s be honest, every single one of us has thrown away a garment that could have instead been recycled, so we can all play a role in eco-consciously cleaning our closets.
The world needs a serious rehaul when it comes to textile waste, so share this article with friends.
2 thoughts on “How & Where to Recycle Old Clothes: 17 Brands Recycling Your Textiles”
This was a great and helpful article, but I still don’t know of a place to recycle unwearable clothes and other fabric items in my central New York area. I’m too far away from NYC to use their recyclers.
Thanks for a great article.
Hi Sally, sorry the article couldn’t be more helpful for you. Could you take a look around your local municipality website? Also there are likely some online recyclers available that will pick up from your location. I recently did this in my area!