Where to donate clothes

where to donate clothes - a pile of garments

Fast fashion is a mess, literally. The world is drowning in fabric, and the fashion industry has a vested interest in this madness continuing.

Imagery of piles of discarded fabric in Africa leaves us conflicted. How do we ensure our donations don’t go straight to landfill? It’s all such a waste.

Where to donate clothes – op shops

Gone are the days when the Salvos truck would pick up bags of clothes. Sometimes there are local collection events that deliver a pink bag and promise to pick up on a certain day, but it’s rarely when you need it.

Have a word to your local charity shops rather than dump and run. If you want to avoid landfill, ask whether they can use it, because the situation can change from week to week. Also ask what they do with unsold items. Many use a rag dealer, which is a decent outcome.

Where to donate clothes – online

Facebook Good Karma and Buy Nothing groups are great for offloading clothes to neighbours. You can also list freebies on Facebook Marketplace and Gumtree.

It’s fine to bundle the clothes rather than list separately, but you’ll still need to make them appealing even though they are free. Showing a pic of a dusty garbage bag with no details won’t get you any takers. Make it clear, so that people know what they are getting. Lay out a few clothes on a clear background or at least show the clothes neatly folded and mention rough size and some brands.

It’s worth the small effort to give the clothes a use.

Another option is Upparel, who collects clothes of any quality for recycling. It’s not a free service, as is often the case with ethical choices. But it’s affordable. and you get credits towards buying their cute, high quality socks.

If you live near the Melbourne suburb of Eltham, Edendale has a Textile Recovery Bin to collect non-donatable fabric, soft toys and belts.

Where to donate clothes – sell/consignment

If you are going to the trouble of listing your clothes online, you may as well get some pocket money. Especially if it’s designer/higher end and in great condition. Facebook Marketplace is a useful platform for sales – but beware, the haggling and time-wasting can be intense.

Much easier is to ship it off to an online consignment store like Swap Up. They handle everything and give you store credit or money when your items sell.

Where to donate clothes – community

See the first paragraph for online community groups. You can also arrange a clothes swap with friends, or a local market stall. Or just give them to a buddy with similar size and taste to you. Make sure your pal wants them first, otherwise they may end up as landfill.

Where to donate clothes – retail

H&M and Zara collect clothing instore as part of a recycling program. I’m a bit sceptical of going into a shopping centre to donate (umm, temptation!) but if it’s the most convenient option, great. And also these guys recycle non-wearable clothing / fabric, which is huge. But be warned, they don’t take big quantities and may restrict intake to store members.

Where to donate clothes – bins/hubs

The SCR group has bins dotted around Australia (currently excluding Tasmania and NT). It promises to return clothes back to the community. Shoes and handbags are also accepted. The beauty of the bins is that they are in convenient locations like train stations and carparks, so you can park and directly unload. But if the bin is full please try again in a week. Don’t be that person who piles up clothes outside the bins.

Where to donate clothes – sneakers and shoes

Shoes for Planet Earth donates your old kicks to less advantaged feet. The Tread Lightly program takes all kinds of shoes and gives them new life.

Where to donate clothes – underwear

Underwear for Humanity accepts used smalls for recycling. They send eligible bras to Support the Girls and give the others a new life as building materials. You also get 10% off purchases as thanks.

Where to donate clothes – corporate wear

Dress For Success and Fitted for Work help less advantages women get interview-ready. However, since the post-Covid increase in working from home, supply of second hand corporate clothing tends to exceed demand. If these speciality charities are overloaded or you don’t live near a drop-off point, you can donate your corporate wear along with your other clothes via the methods outlined above.

Where to donate clothes – wedding dresses

Angel Gowns turns used wedding dresses into funeral gowns for babies who have passed away.

Where to donate clothes – next steps

Get off the fast fashion cycle, at least a little. Learn to mend and alter, and ease up on wanting new stuff all the time.

If we all buy less clothing, we are slowing down demand. And then where to donate clothes is less of an issue. There is only so much the earth can bear, and for now anyway – we only have one.

If you have other household items to donate, check out Where Can I Donate My Stuff?

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