Trash Alternatives That Give Your Old Clothes a Second Life

Americans are buying more clothing than ever and are recycling only about 15 percent. A few businesses are using innovative approaches to sharing before throwing, making it simple to give your old clothes a new life.

August 21, 2015
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As children around the U.S. begin the back-to-school transition, parents are scrambling to gather needed school supplies and shopping for those coveted back to school outfits.

Many of the clothes that were worn just a few short months ago no longer fit the rapidly growing bodies of our children. They seem to shoot up like weeds during the summer months and end up leaving a trail of clothing that no longer fits behind.

Times have changed since the 1980s, and Americans are buying five times as much clothing today. Only about 15 percent of used clothing is being recycled or donated. About 10.5 million tons of clothing head to landfills in the US each year.

Sharing gently used clothing with siblings, friends, or extended family is a simple way to reuse unwanted clothing, but at times this isn’t an option. Rather than tossing used clothing into the trash, why not try one of these innovative ways to put your clothing to good use.

Here are a few ideas to give your old clothes a second life.

Bring in your unwanted clothing or shoes to any US Levi’s store or outlet for recycling, and get a 20% off voucher.

The well-known American denim brand has a recycling program in place in all of its US locations, including outlets. Customers can drop off unwanted clothing or footwear from any brand and the items will be either “re-worn, repurposed, or recycled” by its clothing collection partner, I:CO. Customers who bring in an item of clothing to be recycled will receive a 20% off voucher good on any regular-priced Levi’s in-store product.

Adidas Outlets partner with Project Sole for Refresh Your Sole“.

Wondering what to do with your old shoes? Donate a pair of gently worn shoes of any brand at an Adidas Outlet through August 30, 2015 and receive $10 off a new Adidas shoe purchase. Project Sole takes the used shoes and sorts, packs and prepares to ship them to impoverished and disaster stricken communities throughout the world. You can also mail your worn-out sneakers directly to the Project Sole warehouse and they will distribute them to someone in need.

Patagonia and Yerdle team up to encourage recycling.

If you own a well-used Patagonia product that you no longer need, you can return it to Patagonia and they’ll recycle it into something new, or repurpose what can’t be recycled.

As an added incentive they’ll pay for the postage or you can drop it off at your nearest Patagonia retail store. Since 2005, they’ve taken back over 82 tons of clothing for recycling.

Patagonia has also partnered with Yerdle, a site that encourages the sharing economy by providing a simple way for people to share items and put goods back into circulation rather than throwing them out. Their mission is to reduce the number of new things we all have to buy by 25%. The concept is simple: download the app, post a photo of the clothing and/or other items you’re no longer using. You earn Yerdle Dollars once something is given away to another customer. You can then use those Yerdle Dollars to shop for what you want. The only cost involved: the buyer pays low-cost ($3 to $4), flat-rate shipping to wherever they live in the U.S.

The next time the opportunity arises to toss your used clothing into the trash take the time to think about other ways you can put your clothing to good use. There are plenty of options out there!

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