5 Things in Your Closet You Can Reuse or Recycle

Is your closet overflowing? Many of us have accumulated piles and piles of clothing, shoes, and accessories that we hardly wear or know what to do with. The transition of seasons – especially between the warmer summer months and the chillier fall months – is a great time to give your closet a purge and clean out that stuff you never wear.

Think through each piece you own: when was the last time you wore it? Did you go the entire autumn last year without wearing it? Is it a piece you only use for particular occasions (say, for interviews, but you’re currently very happy with your job)? Do you feel comfortable and love the way you look in each piece? Use these questions to sort through the old clothing and minimize your closet clutter.

Once you make your purge pile, however, what’s the best thing to do with old clothing? For starters, reusing and recycling should always be the default; closet items hardly ever need to be thrown away as they can often be relegated to a better use. But how do you sort through the clutter and dispose of these items the right way?

  1. Clothing: Lightly worn, torn, or stained clothing can all be donated to your local Goodwill, Salvation Army, or other clothing repository. Even if you don’t think it can be resold and reworn, these retailers take ripped or stained clothing and send them to a textile recycler, who recycles the fabric to a higher use (like padding for car seats). If your clothing is rewearable, these retailers sell the clothing and some provide it to those in need. You can also bring your old clothing into larger retailers like H&M, Eileen Fisher, and Patagonia, which all offer recycling services. If you’re looking to make a little money off your used clothing, look online; there are plenty of services (like ThreadUp, Craig’s List, or Ebay) to sell your clothing online if it’s in good condition.
  2. Hangers: As you’re cleaning out clothing, chances are you’ll end up with a lot of extra hangers. Pure wire metal hangers can be recycled, typically in the single-stream recycling bin (be sure to check your town’s local website before doing so to ensure they are accepted). For other hanger types, we’d recommend asking friends if they’re in need of them; many people are often clamoring for more hangers but don’t want to spend the money!
  3. Shoes: We recommend always buying high quality shoes that last; inexpensive, cheaply made shoes tend to fall apart easily and therefore cannot be donated when you’re done wearing them. First, if your shoes are in need of repair, take them to a cobbler to extend their life. If you do decide you don’t want a pair of shoes any longer, donate them to a local charity.
  4. Umbrellas: How many times have you had an umbrella break in harsh winds? It happens quite often! Our first recommendation, as with shoes, is to buy a high-quality, flip-resistant umbrella that will last. If your umbrella has lived its life, however, separate the cloth upper from the metal portion. The wire can be recycled in most curbside programs (see the recommendations for recycling hangers above) and the cloth can be recycled the same way that clothing can.
  5. Sheets and blankets: While it might gross you out a bit to donate your bedding, donation centers are always looking for these items (of course, we’d recommend washing them first!). Your local homeless shelter can benefit from old blankets. Sheets can either be donated or recycled the same way as clothing can. Many animal shelters also accept old bedding as donations.

What are you looking to get rid of from your closet? Let us know in the comments below and we can recommend the best way to do so!

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