So you spent your entire weekend Marie Kondo-ing the heck out of your closet. Now what do you do with the bags and bags of clothes you just purged during your spring cleaning?

Recycling clothes is one of the easiest ways you can help the planet. First, it keeps clothes out of landfills, where 12 million tons of clothes end up every year. Not only are landfills expansive, but they’re terrible for the environment. Recycling clothes also cuts down on greenhouse gases. Landfills require oxygen to break down clothing made from organic material, so clothing decomposition emits greenhouse gasses that accelerate climate change. It is estimated that recycling 100 million pounds of clothes would be the same as removing roughly 35,000 cars from the road.

These are only some of the benefits of recycling clothes. (Read about a few more reasons to recycle, here.) How can you help? Here are a few ways to recycle your clothes—and shop for used clothes.

Brick-and-mortar thrift stores and consignment shops

Donate used clothing (and other items) to your local thrift store, or try to make some money off your clothes by selling them to a consignment shop.

If you do go the donation route, chains like Goodwill not only upcycle used clothing, but fight unemployment by providing jobs for locals. And if you’re doing a little shopping, you may notice some clothes are brand new and still have price tags. That’s because major retailer Target routes unsold, returned or out-of-season items to partners like Goodwill.


There are a number of online sellers that will take your clothing and resell it for you, no hassle required. Based in the San Francisco Bay Area, ThredUp is an online thrift store where you can shop gently used name-brand items, or you can order a kit and ship them your own items for resale. The best part? If ThredUp doesn’t buy your items to resell, they donate them to various charities. Other online sellers include Tradsey, eBay, Craigslist or Crossroads Trading (which also has physical locations where you can sell clothing).


You can also sell your clothes, shoes and more directly from your phone, because there are a bunch of apps for that. Poshmark and Depop are a tech-savvy fashionista’s dream. Simply snap a photo or two of your items, upload them with a price and description, and get ready to sell, buy or trade with people all over the country. LetGo and Offerup are easy ways to buy and sell locally. Simply post your items with a price, and meet up with people in your area who want your items.

Clothing recycling locations

Major retailers are getting in on saving the environment by offering up locations where you can bring your unwanted clothes and they can reuse the materials—and many times, there’s a discount or incentive involved. Since starting its garment collecting initiative in 2013, H&M has recycled more than 121 million pounds of textiles and given them new life in new garments. Patagonia also accepts any of its products via mail or drop off to be recycled or repurposed, and kept out of landfills. At Madewell, you can bring any pair of your old jeans (from any brand) and receive $20 off a Madewell pair. Your jeans are then sent to be recycled into housing insulation.

You can also drop off your bags of clothes in any of the recycling bins you might find in your own neighborhood—often identified as yellow or green.

Clothing swap

Get your friends in on the recycling fun! Ask everyone to go through their closet and drawers and meet up with bags full of unwanted clothes, shoes and the like. Then, host a clothing swap, where everyone goes through each other’s bags and takes items they will give a second chance. You can make these swaps even more fun with some snacks and wine. If there are any leftover items after everyone has made their selections, take them down to a thrift store and donate them.

This is an easy way to go shopping for free and spruce up your wardrobe, while also making room in your closet.

Garage sale

Another way to get rid of clothing and make some moolah is by hosting a garage sale. If you’re not sure you have enough to host a sale on your own, get your friends, family and neighbors in on it and host a joint garage sale. Again, if it doesn’t sell, donate it!

Social media

Did you know that Facebook has groups where you can giveaway or sell your items? Join a few local groups, take advantage of social media’s wide reach and sell or give away your clothes to people in your area.

Photo credit: Alp Allen Altiner, Unsplash