It’s estimated that every year, around 200 million pounds of clothing ends up in New York City’s landfill sites (equivalent to filling over 440 Statues of Liberty) – and that’s just New York. Worldwide, 92 million tons of solid waste ends up in landfills, which can leach chemicals into groundwater and may never fully biodegrade, or is burned, emitting large amounts a greenhouse gases. And, this is just waste; when it comes to textile production the United Nation Climate Change News reports that the fashion industry “contributes to around 10% of global greenhouse gas emissions due to its long supply chains and energy intensive production.” Additionally, the industry consumes a significant amount of natural resources, especially water. For example, it takes 10,000 liters of water to grow the one kilo of cotton needed for one pair of jeans, while in comparison, it would take one person 10 years to drink that same amount. So, enough with the stats. Are you wondering what you can do to help? Then, read on. Note, this list is not exhaustive and will be frequently updated as I learn about more programs. If there is a company you know about that is not listed, feel free to comment below or email me.
Re-commerce your clothing and earn money (nationwide programs)
- Thredup – You can sell or donate used clothes by ordering a Clean Out or Donation Kit from thredUP. If you choose to donate instead of getting a payout, the company will donate $5 to a charity of your choice. You can also shop the online store and buy used clothing.
- Poshmark – You can buy and sell your fashion items on this platform, including handbags, shoes, accessories, clothes and more.
- TheRealReal – If you have gently used luxury items, you can send them into TheRealreal’s consignment program. All you have to do is request a free Consignment Kit, which comes complete with a box and prepaid shipping label. Their commission structure can be found here.
- Depop – You can buy and sell used clothing using this online resell platform.
- e-bay – This goes without saying, as it is one of the most popular way to sell unwanted goods.
- Tradesy – Tradesy is a buy-and-sell marketplace for women’s fashion. You can cash out your earnings or use it to use your earnings to buy something on the site.
- ASOS – You can apply to open a boutique and sell on ASOS’s curated Marketplace.
- Material World – Trade in your items and this company will pay you upfront.
- Crossroads – You can visit any of their store locations or request a bag with a pre-paid shipping label to send in your items. When you chose to “trade” you’ll get store credit, and if you choose “cash,” the’ll pay you 30% of what the item sells for in the store.
- Brand Specific re-commerce programs
- Patagonia – The brand accepts Patagonia gear and clothing that is in good condition. In exchange you’ll get a Worn Wear Merchandise Credit valued at up to $100. Trade-ins can only be accepted at Patagonia retail locations.
- REI – Trade in your gently used gear at the REI Co-op. While you won’t get any discounts or store credit, you can feel good that you’re clothing isn’t going to waste.
- NYC Specific re-commerce programs
- Buffalo Exchange – For any of your items they are able to buy, they assign it a selling price and you’ll receive 30% of our selling price in cash or 50% in store credit on-the-spot.
- Beacon’s Closet – You can sell your clothing to this local store and earn 35% cash or 55% store credit of the price tags applied to your items.
Recycle your clothing by donating
- Nationwide clothing donation programs
- American Textile Recycling Service – This organization provides clothing and shoe donation bins in neighborhoods nationwide. Visit their website to locate one near you.
- GUESS via a partnership with I:CO – In exchange for bringing in 5 or more items of clothing or shoes to any local GUESS, GUESS Factory, G by GUESS, or Marciano store in the U.S., customers will receive 15% off a full-priced purchase in-store or online. Wearable items get a new life as secondhand goods. Unwearable items are resourced into new products.
- H&M – You can drop off clothes and textiles from any brand in in any condition to any H&M store.
- Goodwill – Goodwill accepts most clothing and household items.
- Salvation Army – You can donate clothing to the Salvation Army and even schedule a free pickup for the items or visit a drop off location.
- Soles4Soles – Donate new and gently worn shoes.
- The Arc chapter of The Arc offers clothing pick-ups or drop-offs. Visit their website to find a location near you.
- Dress for Success – Donate career-appropriate items at a local Dress For Success chapter.
- & Other Stories – You can bring clothing from any brand textiles from any brand (even old socks and towels) to any & Other Stories stores and they will send them to yhier reecycling partner.
- NYC clothing donation programs
- Make Fashion Circular #WearNext campaign – Launched by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, you can drop off unwanted clothing at participating locations from March 4-9. Visit nyc.gov/textiles to find your nearest drop off point in NYC.
- New York Cares Clothing Drive – Donate gently used (or new) coats to the New York Cares Annual Coat Drive, which runs from November through January.
- Pickup Please – You can schedule a free clothing donation pickup with this organization online and they’ll send a truck to pick it up from your location.
- The Bowery Mission – Gently used or new men’s clothing & shoes can be donated.
- If you’re a clothing brand, interior designer, costume desiegner..etc you can recycle your scaps through FABSCRAP.
- refashionNYC is NYC’s official clothing reuse program in partnership with NYC Department of Sanitation and Housing Works.
- Grow NYC – You can donate clean and dry clothing, paired shoes, linens, handbags, belts, and other reusable textile.
- Bottomless Closet – In NYC you can drop off gently worn women’s professional clothing in-person or by mail.
- Career Gear – accepts new or gently used, business-professional attire for men.
I’ll be doing a separate blog post about ways to be sustainable when it comes to fashion, but there are a few major ways: upcycle your clothing, swap, use rental services such as Rent the Runway, consume less and purchase from sustainable brands (whenever you can).