How to Recycle Your Clothes

Clothing and textiles are nearly 100 percent recyclable. More and more people are recycling their old attire, whether it’s through donation, thrift store shopping or simple curbside recycling. The textile making process is energy and resource intensive. By recycling clothing you are cutting down on the number of resources needed to produce new clothing.

Frequent Clothing & Accessory Recycling Questions

What happens to clothing once it’s donated to a thrift store?
When an piece of clothing or accessory is donated, the charity or thrift store that receives it will always seek out the maximum value for that item. That might mean it is put of up for sale first, and if the item isn’t sold within the store’s preferred time-frame, it moves on to the next stage.

This could be in the form of donation to a charity, wholesale to a clothing recycler to convert the item to scraps for another reuse, or sale overseas.

What does recycled clothing become?

If clothing isn’t still useable, it’s typically sent to recyclers to be broken down and reused. Clothing can become anything from cleaning rags and carpet padding to rubberized playgrounds and insulation.

Do any major brands or retailers offer clothing or shoe recycling?
Many do so; there are increasingly too many to count here. A few that come to mind, though, are programs by Nike, H&M and Patagonia, in which their products are creatively recycled or reused.

Are some clothing items or accessories easier to recycle than others?
If you are donating clothing and accessories, the better their condition, the more likely they are to be resold and reused as-is. But, older pieces or those that have more wear and tear can still be used. Here’s a list of what can be recycled in any condition.

Are there tax write-offs for clothing, accessory or shoe donation?

Any time you donate items and want to write off the amount on your taxes, the IRS requires that you estimate the value of your donations. As of the writing of this answer, write-offs for items such as clothing and household items can only be obtained if the items are in at least “good” condition. Essentially, if you’re donating scrap materials, write-offs don’t apply here.

Talk to your tax professional about your options, and check out Goodwill Industries’ donation guide to get an idea of the value of your donation.

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