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A Better Way to Dispose Of Clothing

2 years ago by

A Better Way to Dispose Of Clothing

A couple of days ago, my friend was telling me – with the excitement of a child the night before Christmas – that she just cleaned out her whole apartment, and she has never felt better. Then she asked if I had heard of Marie Kondo and her book The Life-Changing Art of … “Ahh yeeaah”, I replied, “good old Marie”.

The truth is that I have heard of this book so many times, I really don’t even have to read it myself. Tidy house, tidy head, I get it. I guess my mother was right all along when she told me that no one would want to be my friend if I didn’t clean my room. How did she come to the conclusion that an undone bed can mess up your life so brutally?

We carried on the cleaning conversation when my friend told me that she also cleaned out her wardrobe, which ended up being the most satisfying of all. I was totally on board. Closet purges became something of a new hot thing that promises everything from the improvement of style to life rejuvenation.

Unsurprisingly, the conversation ends with “and I threw it all away!” followed by wooed “I’m so proud of you!”. At least I try to end it this way, but usually before I can even think of the next supporting thing to say, I hear myself almost screaming: “LET ME TELL YOU ABOUT A BETTER WAY OF DISPOSING YOUR CLOTHES, BECAUSE WHEN YOU THROW IT AWAY, IT ENDS UP IN A LANDFILL, AND IT POLLUTES OUR PLANET FOR HUNDREDS OF YEARS AND FISH DIE, AND ALMOST ALL OF THE ITEMS YOU DONATE END UP IN AFRICA WHERE THEY DISRUPT THE LOCAL ECONOMY, AND THEN YOUR CLOTHES END UP IN A LANDFILL ANYWAY.” I blast it out so fast and with such enthusiasm, a person’s eyes widen, brows rise in confusion, and their face regrets ever talking to me.

So, let me tell you about a better way to dispose of your clothes – recycling. But don’t worry, you won’t need to take a trip from Chinatown to Flatbush for the closest recycling bin. All you will need to do is pack your stuff, print a label, and stick it to the package. Then drop it off at your local post office and say “au revoir” to all unwanted clothes and “bonjour” to a newly-changed-chic-rejuvenated life.

I trust the recycling task to Community Recycling who partners with a lot of brands, the names of which are provided on the site. Sometimes I print the label from their site, sometimes I stop by the Reformation store and pick up a couple (or a dozen) of free labels with the “Recycling for lazy people” instruction included.

I guess I should really start to carry those around with me, so instead of yelling at people, I’ll just give them a label.

written by Bogdana Ferguson


Add yours
  • Love everything about this and so true…I drop mine into any charity shop That happens to have an empty car park out front

  • You can also drop off clothing at H&M, shoes at select Nike stores, and denim at any Madewell location.

  • Hi Grace,
    Oh yes, Nike has such a great program for reworking old sneakers into playgrounds and more!
    As for H&M, I hat to be a party-pooper, but all I know is that they’re notorious for burning unsold garments in the past, which is highly unethical and harmful to the environment. I can’s speak for their practices today, but I personally choose to avoid recycling through them.
    Let me know if you have more information on that, I’d love see!

  • I give, and kind of force my friends to donate, to Second Act (Abuse Counseling and Treatment.)

  • I was informed here in France that all the clothes that are donated go through triage, and that the ones that are damaged get ground up and turned into housing insulation. Which I think is just wonderful.
    I gave my best work clothes and suits to a shelter for battered women. Nice for job interviews. And they might not be in a position to go rifle through Salvation Army, etc.
    I lived in Africa and saw the bales of used clothes for sale. I don’t think it’s a terrible thing. At least the clothes are worn again. In fact, Planet Money did an excellent episode about this, featuring local tailors who redo the clothes for the local market (much of it is taking in size XXL for a population with less obesity). They also put together artful reconstructions. Check it out.
    Two parts:

  • Hey there,
    Thank you so much for sharing your observations and resources! I will devour them as soon as I get a minute.
    It’s really important to note, that while sharing/donating our goods is still super important and valuable (as you mentioned you donate your best work clothes to women in need), most of the things we clean out of our closets aren’t in decent condition, especially if initially they were cheaply made.
    I tend to think about it this way: if I would still wear a garment but not inspired by it anymore, it worth giving it away, but if under no circumstance would I put it on, I don’t expect others to be excited about it either. That’s where recycling comes into game :)
    Another reason for recycling vs giving donating is polyester is that I’m terrified of what piles of it are doing to us and our planet, and with recycling, there’s hope that it’ll be reworked into something instead of ending up in landfill.
    Book “To Die for: Is Fashion Wearing Out The World” by Lucy Siegle does a great job of painting every aspect of fashion’s wastefulness in detail, which kind of left me a bit hopeless.
    Looking forward to listening to the NPR episodes you shared <3

  • It’s such a good point!

    I only throw away clothes that can’t be worn any more. I try to take everything to the charity boxes (where clothes are collected and sold or given to those who are in need).

    I buy vintage clothes all the time (almost all my clothes have been vintage for years) and I am sooo thankful to all the people who have taken the time to give their clothes for charity (recycling)! Thanks to those people I can have amazing clothes for a very reasonable price.

    And of course there’s the environmental effect.

    Please don’t throw your clothes away. You could help someone who needs them, your clothes could still make someone happy and it wouldn’t be a waste and wouldn’t be environmental hazard.

  • I give my unwanted, but in good condition, clothes to a local charity shop. The money goes to the local hospice. PLEASE don’t throw your clothes away as they just clog up the local landfills.

  • Hello! Samantha from Community Recycling here! Just wanted to say thanks for the shout out and most of all, thanks for being a part of the #reusemovement! We’re happy to put your gently used clothing to better use!

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