The Best Places for Donating, Selling and Recycling All Your Old Clothes

TerraCycle Include USA zero waste box
As Spy readers, you’re all connoisseurs of the latest in men’s fashion from head to toe. Whether it’s the best Off-White sneakers for rocking this spring or the must-have YouTuber merch, you’re the first ones to order it. Constantly being at the forefront of trends can lead to very full closets, and sometimes it becomes necessary to do a little purging. That bomber jacket you haven’t touched in two years? It could be bringing someone else joy as we speak. That bold, risky rugby shirt you impulse-bought that’s have been collecting dust ever since? It’s probably worth donating too. Rather than let this stuff clog up your closet, free up space for new gear by donating your clothes and letting someone else take them off your hands.   Sadly, the textile industry is the globe’s second biggest polluter behind the oil industry, and giving clothes a second, third or even fourth life through donation can cut down on the environmental impact. 20% of industrial water pollution across the globe comes from the treatment and dying of fabrics, and 1.5 trillion liters of water is used by the fashion industry every year. Yikes. You can do your part by giving clothes away to charities, selling them online via consignment or mailing super old fabric into textile recycling centers that dispose of even the rattiest of clothes the responsible way. Your clothes treat you well, treat them well in return by giving them away to one of the best places to donate clothes in 2021.   I’ve split up your donation options into three main categories, the first one is online/mail-in services where you can stuff an envelope or box full of clothes you don’t want, mail them in and they’ll either be resold or donated depending on their condition. The second major category is charities or drop-off centers where you can physically bring bags of unwanted clothes of all kinds in good condition. The only drawback with this method is you must live near a donation center in order to take advantage of their services. Pro tip: stores like NikeThe North Face and Patagonia will accept clothing either from them or other brands for resale or recycling. Lastly, there’s recycling, which takes care of even the rattiest underwear that you DEFINITELY should not donate, but also shouldn’t simply toss in the trash.

1. Swap.com

This is an online reseller that takes boxes of donated clothes, assesses them for quality and then sells them for you at competitive commission rates. They’ve got high standards for the quality of clothing they’ll accept, and charge a hefty fee if your box is overweight or your entire box is rejected, but if you’ve got clothes in excellent condition and want to see them go to good homes — it’s a solid option. If your first box is accepted and you make some $$ off of it, you’ll be invited to be a Premier Seller with them and can send in clothes anytime you want. Tips for giving your clothes the best chance at acceptance? Avoid pilling, fading, clothes that have stretched or shrunk in the dryer. You’ll also want to make sure your clothes aren’t damaged or altered in a significant way, aren’t missing buttons or zippers and don’t have stains or holes. If you’d give it away to a good friend of yours, it’s probably up to snuff to sell on Swap.com.

2. thredUp

ThredUp is another well-known online marketplace for buying and selling your unwanted clothing. They send out convenient “Clean Out Kits” that you can fill up and send back via a prepaid shipping label. They sell anything they can and give you a commission, and donate the rest. They’ve got a 12-point inspection process for ensuring the clothing they sell meets their high standards and then they photograph, list and ship to thrifters so you avoid the heavy lifting! Practicing sustainability through extending the life of clothing is one of their core priorities and they use personalized algorithms and marketing to ensure your clothes sell as quickly as possible. The one drawback? They currently only accept women’s clothing. image.png

3. GiveBackBox

This is an ingenious idea, and works to reduce packaging waste and clothing waste at the same time. Major online retailers like Nordstrom, Amazon and eBay have all partnered with GiveBackBox, making it possible to use the boxes you receive goods in as donation boxes to charities across the country. The next time you receive a new shipment of shampoo or laundry detergent from Amazon simply repack that box with goods you no longer want, print a shipping label to the charity of your choice from GiveBackBox, and they do the rest. How cool is that? image.png

4. Soles4Souls

Soles4Souls works to keep unwanted shoes and clothing from landfills and instead donates them to individuals in need and helps those individuals start reselling businesses. They’re one of the top-rated nonprofits in the country for their work, and have many channels through which you can help including shoe donation. You can drop off at one of their thousands of physical drop-off sites across the country, or ship for free up to 50lbs with Zappos for Good. image.png

Drop Off Centers/ Charities

5. Goodwill

You know it, you love it, it’s probably one of the first organizations that comes to mind when you think about donating, and that’s a good thing! Your new or gently used items are resold at their stores and the revenue generated goes towards job training and placement services for people in your community — it’s a win-win. They’ve got donation centers across cities in the US as well as donation bins, just make sure it’s a bin marked clearly with their logo, mission statement and a description of the benefitting organization.

6. Salvation Army

Another well-known charity that helps individuals across the nation get help via disaster relief, alcohol and drug rehabilitation, homeless shelters, food pantries and more. All donated goods are sold at the Salvation Army thrift stores and fund their Adult Rehabilitation Centers to help those struggling with alcohol, drugs or other addictions find help. They accept clothing, furniture, household goods, appliances and more. Avoid contributing further to landfills and benefit a great, worthy cause easily with their donation services. You can find a drop-off location, find a thrift store to donate to, schedule a free pick-up and even have your car picked up.

7. American Red Cross

The American Red Cross is involved in so many different charitable efforts from blood donation to CPR training to disaster relief, that it can be hard to remember they also accept donations! They’ve partnered with GreenDrop to turn clothing into funds for those in need via thrift stores across the country. They accept clothing and gently used toys, and you can schedule a pickup or drop off your goods at one of their many locations. After your donation you’ll receive a tax-deductible receipt as well. image.png

8. Career Gear

Career Gear does for men what Dress for Success does for women, it’s a not-for-profit organization that helps men look and feel their best for job interviews through donated clothes, shoes and accessories. Help men in your community gain financial independence through feeling confident in their look and ability by donating your gently used fancier clothing, knowing it’s going to a great cause. They’re not currently accepting clothing donations because of the pandemic, but I decided to include them anyway because the cause is too great to not be aware of. You can find more information about other ways to help and stay up to date on when they’re once again accepting donations at the link below.

9. Vietnam Veterans of America

Vietnam Veterans of America provides a wide range of veterans services from job placement to financial advising, legislative advocacy and claims assistance as well. The organization has over 75,000 members that they provide assistance to through community and shared experience. They’ve also got outreach programs, government relation programs and, you guessed it, a donations channel! They accept clothing and household items of all shapes and sizes in most (but not all) states in the US. You can drop off or have your items picked up, and the best part is they’ll accept “almost anything!” Learn more and find out if you live in a state where they accept donations below. image.png


10. Planet Aid

A simple Google search will give you your local clothing recycling centers, but Planet Aid is a great resource that offers bins across the east coast. Planet Aid recycles, on average, over 90 million pounds of clothing and shoes every year, keeping them out of landfills and preventing slow break down and release of toxic methane gas. Unfortunately, they’ve only got their yellow donation bins in areas across the east coast, but you can sign up to be notified when they add a new bin in your neighborhood. If you live in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Kansas City, Philadelphia, Delaware, Pittsburgh, Ohio, Pennsylvania and the DMV metropolitan area — you’re in luck! Find out more and find your local bin below.

11. Terracycle Fabrics and Clothing Zero Waste Box

Terracycle’s Zero Waste Box is another great option for sending in old clothing and textiles you no longer want to be recycled. All of the fabric sent in is segregated into different categories — nylons, cottons, etc — and is either reused, upcycled or recycled depending on its condition. They accept all forms of fabric from old clothing to curtains, blankets, bedsheets, linens and more. They also offer Zero Waste Boxes for things like coffee bags, disposable gloves and even batteries! Check out all of their convenient, trustworthy recycling options below.