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How to Get Rid of Old Clothes Sustainably: 5 Eco-Friendly Options to Try

If you're wondering how to get rid of clothes sustainably, we have five eco-friendly methods that will help you clean out your closet.

Written by
Kristine Nguyen

There's a strong chance there's something in your closet right now that you aren't totally in love with.

Maybe you impulsively bought a shirt at the mall three years ago and have only worn it once. Maybe there's a pair of pants you've had for years that doesn't fit anymore. Maybe your great aunt gifted you a really itchy sweater for your birthday and it's been collecting dust in the bottom of the drawer.

Whatever the case may be, you're probably wondering how to get rid of old clothes. And your first thought may be to donate these unwanted items. While there are some great places to give them away to, one thing to note is these donated clothing items don't always wind up in the hands of those in need. With so much clothing to deal with, some secondhand retailers simply can't keep up. That means it's not uncommon for clothing to be sent overseas or to a landfill.

So, what's a person to do with unwanted garments? There are tons of easy ways you can revive your garments, and here's how to get rid of old clothes sustainably.

How to Get Rid of Old Clothes Sustainably

1. Host a Clothing Swap

Clothing swaps are a great way to get rid of something old and receive something new at absolutely no cost. They also make for a fun and unique bonding experience. Invite some of your most fashionable friends and family, then get to swapping. (Don't be afraid to give some new styles a try!)

2. Compost Your Natural Clothes

If some of your unwanted items are made of completely biodegradable materials, they can be composted pretty easily. Some biodegradable fabrics include cotton, wool, linen, hemp, and silk.

Make sure they aren't mixed with any man-made fabrics, like polyester and rayon. Shred them really thin and remove any parts that aren't compostable, like zippers or buttons. Then, get to composting!

3. Resell Them

If you're looking to make some cash while decluttering your closet, this is your best option. There are many ways to sell your clothing, especially online. Online consignment shops like ThredUP send you a kit to put your clothing items in, and they'll pay you once your items sell on their website.

Other popular apps, such as Poshmark and Depop, allow you to open up your own page dedicated to showcasing and selling clothes. Some platforms may take a portion of the pay, but it's still a great option for making sure your clothes go to someone who truly wants them.

4. Do Some Upcycling

Did you know old t-shirts actually make really good cleaning rags? As well as pillowcases, quilts, and even tote bags. There are so many easy ways to upcycle your old clothes into practical items.

From dryer balls made of old wool sweaters to dog toys made of denim, to reusable makeup pads made from old cotton shirts, the possibilities are endless.

5. Donate Them

As mentioned, donating clothing isn't always the most eco-friendly way to get rid of your unwanted clothes. But it's very important to note that not everyone has the time or money to be reselling or upcycling their items.

Luckily, if you're wondering where to donate used clothes, there are so many organizations that will take the time to make sure your clothes go to the right people. Check them out here!

You can also check to see if there are any nonprofits, schools, churches, or mutual aid groups near you that are taking clothing donations. Then make sure what you're donating is in good condition.