Most links are for reference only. However, EarthyB occasionally includes affiliate links and may earn money if you buy a product from these links.
Major retail stores around the country are accepting old shoes and clothes for recycling in a move toward a circular economy. If your closet is full of clothes that no longer fit or “spark joy,” find a drop off location below and your old rags will be recycled or upcycled into something new.
Why Recycle Old Clothes?
Most clothes come from natural resources like cotton and trees. Cotton, in particular, requires large chunks of agricultural land to grow. Cotton is also a pesticide-heavy crop. Most materials that go into clothes are shipped all over the world, and transportation is an emission intense industry. When we eventually throw away old clothes they end up in landfills where it takes years for them to biodegrade. Instead, bring old, stained clothes to be renewed or recycled at one of these retailers.
In-store and online clothes recycling
If you’re heading to the mall, bring a bag of clothes you couldn’t sell online to retailers like H&M and Eileen Fisher to be re-sold, recycled or repaired.
Nike stores will take your old shoes back to be recycled into their Grind material. It can then be used to make new products and sports surfaces. They also have a shoe subscription offer where you receive a regular subscription of new shoes, and you can send back your old shoes. Looks like Nike is making progress!
Levis: Recycle your jeans
Give your old jeans a new life by recycling them at any Levis store or outlet. Levis will pass them along to Blue Jeans Go Green where they will be turned into insulation.
Go to Levis.com to find a location near you.
You can also bring those old jeans to any Madewell store and they will also upcycle them into building insulation through BlueJeansGoGreen.org according to the website. Eventually, that insulation may end up in a Habitat for Humanity home according to Blue Jeans Go Green.
H&M: Recycle any brand
Bring your bags of old, used clothes to H&M. Any brand, any condition. H&M will either re-sell it at second-hand stores around the world, re-use it to create something new, or recycle it by converting it into other products like insulation or other textiles. You receive an H&M coupon.
Eileen Fisher is working toward becoming a truly circular economy brand. Not only do they make clothes designed to last, but they also take back your old clothes in exchange for a $5 Renew Rewards card. Clothes in good condition are resold through Eileen Fisher Renew stores and EileenFisherRenew.com. Clothes that cannot be re-sold are re-purposed into art, pillows and wall hangings.
Patagonia: Worn Wear
Patagonia will take back all their products for repair, replacement, refund or recycling. Gear returned due to wear and tear can be repaired at a reasonable cost. Mail Patagonia gear ready to be recycled to their service center or drop off at one of their retail stores.
Sports Basement offers various recycling bins. A few bins you might find include shoes, clothes, cork, bike tubes, wetsuits, batteries, corks, cell phones, and even yoga mats.
Different locations recycle different things. Contact your local Sports Basement to find out what the store near you accepts.
Sell used clothes online
If you have old clothes without stains and holes, it's better to sell them than recycle them. Today there are so many online retailers that will sell your clothes in exchange for a credit or even make it easier to sell them directly on eBay.
The eBay selling assistant app makes it easier to sell your used clothes on eBay. Just snap three pictures following their guidelines. You'll get an optimized listing that makes selling your clothes way easier than trying to create the listing yourself. Learn more about SellHound or listen to the episode where I interview the ladies behind the app.
ThredUP lets you sell, recycle or donate your old clothes without the trip to the mall. Order a bag at ThredUP.com and fill it with brand name clothes. You choose if you want a credit or donation slip in exchange for the clothes. Clothes ThredUP can't sell are passed on to be upcycled into something new.
PoshMark is similar to thredUP. You can sell your used clothes easily to thousands of people looking for exactly what you're selling. I can't seem to go that website without getting sucked into buying something. So many cute things!
Transitioning to a circular economy
As we transition to a circular economy more companies will begin to repair ripped clothes and take back used clothing for recycling. I'll add more retailers here as more companies make the transition.