7 Ways you can Reuse and Recycle Clothing

You already know that recycling is good for the environment, but even people who are pros at recycling newspapers and food packaging sometimes overlook what’s in their closets. Even old shoes can be recycled or reused in a few different ways.

Using What You Already Have Saves You Money

Before anything else, consider reusing what you already have for financial reasons. If what you’ve got will get you by, do you need to spend your hard-earned money on another sweater? Of course, if you need something like steel-toed boots, or your last pair of pants has holes in it, you need to buy new clothes. When it comes to everyday fashion, consider saving up for something that’s made to last rather than getting a quick stopgap. Use the clothing you already have–perhaps something just needs a good clean and a press or a little mending. 

Reusing Can Stretch Your Creativity

If you have plenty of clothes but need a change, consider taking up the creative challenge or altering your wardrobe. You don’t have to be a master seamstress; there are plenty of quick and easy tutorials for simple alterations on Youtube and similar websites.

Recycling Reduces the Environmental Impact of Fashion

According to the EPA, in just one year, 2014, 12.15 million tons of clothing reached end-of-lifecycle in the US. At this point, they could be recycled, donated, or sent to a landfill. Just 15.6% was recycled. 8.24 million tons of clothing were sent to landfills.

Since then, recycling trends have been looking up. Each year, just slightly, more and more clothing is being recycled or reused. The less that is created and the more that is recycled, the less energy, pesticides, water, and labor will have to go into farming more cotton and other essential materials.

You Can Recycle Old Clothes for Cash

If you happen to be someone who keeps their clothes in great shape, it’s more than possible to trade up by selling your gently used clothing. You could sell it online through an auction site like eBay or, if it’s vintage or designer, through an online boutique. Alternatively, you can sell your clothes to local thrift shops for cash right away. You might not get as much this way, but you will be paid upfront.

If you have accessories or jewelry you don’t wear anymore; there are plenty of reputable places that recycle jewelry and will pay you more than your local pawnshop.

Reusing and Upcycling Clothes Can Become a Business

Thrift shops and yard sales are quick ways to get new homes for old clothes and accessories, but selling online can become a real business. If what’s in your closet sells well, consider offering to help friends or family.

Donating or Recycling Clothes Can Help Those in Need

Clothes are regularly shipped around the world to provide comfort and protection to those in need. Whether your old but still wearable boots and jeans go to farmers in Africa or end up in the hands of a homeless person a few states over- your clothes are making a difference in their lives.

Old Items of Clothing Can Become One-of-a-Kind Items

Clothes don’t have to stay clothes forever. Your favorite sweater, worn thin at the elbows, can become your new favorite infinity scarf. Old jeans can become throw pillows. And if all else fails, t-shirts turn into dust rags or rag rugs. There is always a way to reuse a textile. Then, once it’s fulfilled every possible task, it can be recycled.

With a little practice and effort, your old, unwanted clothes, or former favorites, can have a new life- usually only costing you a few pennies or an hour here or there. These objects can’t be purchased in any store and will give you and your home their personality.



Nikki is an author and writer specializing in green living ideas and tips, adventure travel, upcycling, and all things eco-friendly. She's traveled the globe, swum with sharks and been bitten by a lion (fact). She lives in a tiny town with a fat cat and a very bad dog.

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