If you made a New Year’s resolution to clean out your closet, found inspiration by watching Marie Kondo’s new Netflix series, or were motivated by our recent post on how to know when to throw out workwear, today’s advice on where to recycle, donate, and sell your work clothes is for you. We’ve previously talked about the pros and cons of thrifting for workwear, asked how often you declutter your wardrobe, and discussed decluttering in general. (By the way, to do your part to avoid buying fast fashion, or at least limit your purchases, see our Slow Fashion Shopping Guide.)
Here’s our guide to where to recycle, donate, and sell your work clothes:
Where to Recycle Clothing
- As we recently noted, this post on refashionNYC and this piece on clothing recycling in North Carolina can give you a good idea of what to Google to find a similar clothing recycling program in your area.
- H&M: Stores accept clothing from any brand in any condition in exchange for a coupon.
- Levi’s: You can recycle jeans at any store and get 20% off one item.
- Blue Jeans Go Green: Denim is upcycled into UltraTouchTM Denim Insulation. Donate your jeans at Madewell, J.Crew, or Rag & Bone and get a discount on a new pair — or mail them in.
Where to Donate Clothing
- Dress for Success: Check with your local affiliate for its guidelines for what sorts of workwear items it will accept.
- Soma: Donated bras are given to women in local domestic violence shelters and women who are homeless.
- DSW: The company partners with Soles4Souls and Be Strong and will add 50 points to your VIP account when you donate shoes.
- Contact homeless shelters, domestic violence shelters, refugee assistance groups, and places of worship in your city and ask what they need.
Where Not to Donate Clothing
- Savers: If you want to make sure your clothing is donated to a nonprofit or directly to people in need, avoid this “for-profit professional fundraiser” that accepts clothing donations “on behalf of” local nonprofits. (Value Village and Unique are also part of the Savers “family.”) Unsold clothing is recycled or sold to resellers in developing countries, which harms domestic garment and textile industries.
- Planet Aid: You may have seen one of their big yellow collection bins — there are 19,000 of them — but you may want to think twice about using one. The nonprofit is said to have ties to an alleged cult and has been criticized for being less than honest about its selling practices.
Where to Sell Clothing
Here are the basic details for some popular places to sell your clothes online. I’ve had some luck with eBay over the years but no success yet with Poshmark or Facebook groups. Readers, how about you?
- eBay: You can list up to 50 items per month for free, and you’ll pay a “final value fee.” Here’s an example from my own experience: eBay charged me $2.05 for a shirt I sold for $13.49. You decide the shipping method and what to charge the buyer for shipping (if anything — I’m experimenting with free shipping right now).
- Poshmark: If you want something simpler, try a site like Poshmark. Listing items is free upfront, and you receive a free pre-paid shipping label. Sellers hand over 20% for listing prices over $15, and below that, you’ll give up $2.95.
- The RealReal: Consign luxury brands by mailing or dropping off your items or by having them picked up (depending on your location). TRR’s staff will price and list your things, and you’ll earn up to 85% of the sale price. Example: consignors who sell items with original resale list prices of $146–$195 receive 50%.
- thredUP: Another option that doesn’t require you to list items yourself is thredUP. When you order a Clean Out Kit, you can choose to donate your clothing or get cash/credit. ThredUp only takes about 40% of the items on average, and they’ll recycle the rest (or return them to you for $10.99). If something sells, you’ll get 5%–90% of the listing price.
- Craigslist/Facebook Marketplace/Facebook groups: Your experiences will differ dramatically based on your location, the groups you post in, and the individual buyers. Here are some tips for Craigslist and Facebook.
What are your recommendations for where to recycle, sell, and donate your work clothes? Have you used any of the sites above? How often do you go through your closet to downsize your wardrobe, and do you find it easy to decide to get rid of things you no longer wear … or not?
Stock photo via Deposit Photos / AntonMatyukha.