7 Things to Do with Old Clothes You Don’t Wear

7 Things to Do with Old Clothes You Don’t Wear

Are you among the 61 percent of Americans struggling to lose your Covid 15? The moniker for the unwanted pounds most of us gained during the pandemic, the Covid 15 is more like 29 pounds. And chances are, you’ve got a closetful of pre-pandemic old clothes you won’t be wearing anytime soon.

Our landfills are trying to lose weight too. So, don’t throw your old clothes away in black garbage bags and add to the 21 billion pounds of textile waste Americans send to landfills annually. Instead, do one of these 7 things with old clothes you don’t wear.

High Costs of Cheap Clothes

As you’re sorting through overstuffed drawers and digging deep into your closet, you may be wondering how you got here. Several Simplehuman garbage bags are stretched to their limits, and you realize you have so many clothes. How?

Deciding what to do with old clothes you don’t wear needs to start with a reckoning — with fast fashion.

What Is Fast Fashion?

Fast fashion is a business model in which clothing manufacturers make a lot of clothes quickly and cheaply. Then they apply slick marketing to make you want to switch up your entire look twice a week and toss the styles you bought only a month ago.

Fast fashion makes its profitsmanufacturing demand for cheap goods. And it works. We buy 60 percent more clothing today than we did 20 years ago. And we keep that clothing for half as long before ordering more with our smartphones.

On average, each of us purchases 64 new pieces of clothing each year. That’s an almost six-fold increase from the 80s when we only purchased about 12 items per year.

Planet Pays Price for Fast Fashion

Fast fashion is downright bad for the environment. Textile production accounts for 10 percent of the world’s carbon emissions and is the second largest industrial user of water worldwide. The water used to make one cotton shirt would provide one person with enough to drink for three and a half years. About 85 percent of our clothes end up in the landfill, the equivalent of one garbage truck of clothing every second.

During the time sandwiched between its resource-intensive creation and its landfill-congesting demise, fast fashion inflicts even more injury to the environment. When we wash our new synthetic clothes, bits of plastic go down the drain to wind up in our oceans. The amount of microplastics that come from our laundry is about the same as 50 billion plastic bottles.

Fast fashion is such a big deal to the climate that you can reduce your carbon footprint30 percent justcommitting to not buying newly purchased clothing for at least nine months.


What You Can Do with Wearable Clothes

You can help ensure your old clothes don’t become part of the 21 billion pounds of textile waste Americans send to landfills each year.

Host a Clothing Swap

There’s a growing movement to “swap instead of shop.” You can embrace this trendhosting a clothing swap.

  • Decide who the swap is for. You can host a small swap at your home for friends and family or create a community event in a church basement or the high school gym.
  • Set the rules of the swap. Generally, participants can choose one item for each item they bring. Set a limit on the number of items allowed and make clear rules about clothing quality.
  • Don’t forget the details. Provide mirrors and changing areas. And include shoes, jewelry and handbags in the swap.
  • If you don’t want to host your own swap, check out Swap Society, an online venue for swapping clothes.

Sell Your Old Clothing Online

A variety of online retailers have emerged that will help you sell your quality, used clothing. Poshmark, Thredup and Tradesy are just a few.

Donate to a local charity. For example, many communities have programs to help disadvantaged women find jobs that pay a living wage. Many of these organizations have a clothing “shop” where these women can pick out an interview outfit for free, complete with handbag and shoes.

Donate to Charitable Rummage Sale

If you don’t want the hassle of selling clothes, give them to a charitable rummage sale. Schools, churches and other nonprofits often host community garage sales.

Donate to a Thrift Store

Donate used clothing to a thrift store. Don’t forget to check out their offerings when you drop off your donation. If every American bought one used clothing item instead of new, it would be the environmental equivalent of taking half a million cars off the road.


What You Can Do With Ragged Clothes

Sending unwearable clothes to a thrift store is a drain on the store’s resources. Employees must sort through donations and unusable donations must be transported. Instead, try to find uses for your old clothes that are no longer wearable.

  • Create rags to use for household cleaning and other tasks. This is a great way to reuse unusable clothing and break your paper towel habit too.
  • Donate to an animal shelter. Call local shelters to find out if they accept used textiles. Many will accept blankets and towels. A few will accept t-shirts and other clothing.
  • Make a craft. Don’t know how to use a sewing machine? Check out YouTube, and then purchase an inexpensive machine. There are hundreds of easy sewing projects for beginners using old clothes.
  • Not interested in sewing? Try some of these no-sew projects for old clothes.

Don’t be hard on yourself if you’re unable to wear your pre-pandemic clothes. Most of us are dealing with the Covid 15. Instead, lighten the load in your closet and dressers. But don’t toss your old clothes in the garbage. Opt for environmentally responsible and socially conscious ways to discard old clothes. And when you’re ready to purchase new clothes, opt for quality, long-lasting fashions, instead.