Where to donate or recycle unused clothing in the UK

17 Jun 2021
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With the sun shining bright, it is the moment when all of our winter clothes go back into storage and we (finally) take out our summer clothes.

And while we make the transition to this new season, it is time to take a good look at the clothes and textiles that you have and decide how you can extend the life of your clothing, either by re-wearing them, repairing them or through donation.

However, knowing exactly how and where to donate your clothes and textiles isn’t as easy. And how can I know if these clothes will end up in a landfill in the global south? 

This is why today, we want to show you the places you can donate your clothes and textiles responsibly depending on the category.

1. General clothes in good condition

Some of your clothes will probably still be looking fresh and simply need to find a new owner to love them and use them.

One simple way to do this is to use Thrift+, a service that enables you to easily donate by sending bags to your house. Put the clothes you want to donate in the bag and you can then decide to drop it off or get it picked up. Thrift+ will then receive your bag and put your clothes to sell on their website. Once sold, you earn some credit and can donate part of the money to a charity of your choice, a win-win!

Otherwise, there are many great organisations that collect clothes in good condition for different causes. For instance, Smart Works collects work clothes in good condition to give to unemployed women looking for work.

2. Underwear

Undergarments are always tricky, because should you really donate the pants you’ve worn a million times? Well, yes, you can, but usually not to the organisations mentioned above. 

For bras, if they are gently worn, some organisations will accept them, just check the accepted items for donations on the organisations website. Otherwise, if they are unusable, recycle them in a textile bank or use a program such as Bravissimo’s, which collects bras to turn their textile into new innovative material.

For underpants, if they are new, you will be able to donate them in order for them to be sold or re-used. Otherwise, like bras, you should send them to a textile recycling ban. Check Recycle now to find the closest one near you.

3. Denim

Cropped jeans are all the rage, and we don’t blame you if you’ve cut off the bottom of your jeans, we’ve done the same! But where should you take your denim scraps now?

The blue jeans go green program is a recycling program that enables donors to send their denim in order for it to be transformed into insulation. This is a great way to make sure your denim is diverted from landfill. If you don’t have a drop-off location near you, be sure to check out recycle now for places you would be able to recycle it.

4. Shoes

Shoes are also a difficult one to decide whether to donate or recycle. If the shoes are really too worn, most recycling banks will take them and recycle them. If they still have some wear to them, Thrift+ is again a very easy and simple solution to donate your shoes and make sure they continue getting worn.

If you have any children’s shoes, donate them to Start Rite, a company that uses your shoe donations to give under-privileged children in the UK shoes that fit. Simply donate in one of their recycling points. 

5. General textiles

For general textiles, be sure to check out your local textile recycling banks. Textiles such as bed linen, cotton, wool and more should be perfectly fine to recycle! You can also donate to organisations such as the Work and Play scrapstore, which resells your fabric and other waste.

With your newfound donation knowledge, go do some good and help the environment by making us produce less and extend the lifecycle of our clothing. Want to go a step further? Check out last week’s blog on how to reduce water consumption and pollution