How To Get Rid Of Your Old Clothing Sustainably

by - 07:30

The fashion industry is the second most polluting industry worldwide. Out of the 1.4 million tonnes of clothing thrown away in the UK each year, 30% are brand new and never worn. That figure is infuriating, especially when that means we throw away £30 million worth of unworn clothing each year. That needs to stop, especially when there are so many ways we can get rid of clothes more sustainably. Here are some ways you can get rid of your old items of clothing without causing so much harm to the environment. Although these ways will help the landfill problem, you're still buying into fast fashion which is bad for the planet.


Sell Your Old Items


Selling your old items is a great way to give them a second life, especially when they still have the tags on. I regularly sell on eBay and make a lot of money doing so. You'd be surprised at what people would buy, even if they are slightly damaged. When listing clothing, make sure you include the brand, size and any measurements that may be important. People love a quality image, so they can see how the garment would fit. When selling on eBay, I have a few top tips for selling shoes and clothing:

  • Bundle together baby & kids clothes. They sell a lot quicker!
  • Model the clothing yourself or on a mannequin to show the buyer how it sits
  • Sell higher value items as a Buy It Now option (BIN). It gets a lot more attention
  • Calculate your profits with a fee calculator. I set the item cost at 0 and won't sell items unless they make a profit of £2 or more. I donate what I don't sell
  • Iron the clothing. It won't go unnoticed!
  • Know what you stuff is worth - research what similar items have sold for
  • Read my guide on eBay selling for more helpful tips & advice!

My family regularly give me bags of clothing for me to resell in exchange for a 20% cut of whatever I make. I think it's a great way to get the whole family involved, make some money and keep clothing in circulation. Even extended family are getting involved, which makes me happy that they're making a change! See how much you can make by selling your old clothes. You'd be surprised what people are paying!

Donate Your Clothes To A Charity Shop


I mentioned that anything under £2 in profit, I will donate to the charity shop. I do that because it isn't worth my time. The charity shop is a great place to get rid of your old clothes. Make sure that your clothing is in good condition, is clean and follows the guidelines for your local shop. Some places won't accept certain items. Donating to charity shops means that you don't have to do the work. All you need to do is sort through your clothes and wash them.

It allows others to find your clothes but is limited to your local area. eBay allows you to connect with people worldwide. Charity shops are also amazing places to buy new clothes. Not only do you stop the textiles from reaching landfill, but you're helping out charities in need!

Some charities will also donate these clothes to people in need. Some will donate to children across the world, while other shops will give to people in need locally. Either way, you're helping a lot of people out by keeping your clothes out of the landfill!

Repurpose or Upcycle Them


If you're feeling creative, you can repurpose any old clothes. If your clothing is damaged, find a way to repair it. If it is no longer the right size, there are ways you can alter it. Here are some ways you can repurpose and upcycle your old clothing!

  • Put patches over holes, or add them to bling up your clothing
  • Cut a dress in half, sew some hems and make it into a cute 2-piece
  • Make a patchwork quilt
  • Use old textiles for sewing projects & DIYs
  • Make a rag rug from old t-shirts
  • Turn old t-shirts into pillows
  • Add lace to hems to make tops look pretty
  • Cut jeans into shorts for summer
  • Reuse old & ruined clothing for DIY jobs

Have A Clothing Swap


If you have a close group of friends, you can organise a clothing swap! A clothing swap is a fun way to share clothes and get new ones. Organise a meeting place and ask your friends to bring any old clothes they no longer want. For every item of clothing you pick, you must trade one back. It's a fun way to change your wardrobe without having to spend any extra cash.

If you want to mix it up, you could only ask your group to bring certain colours, garment types or brands. This way, you'll each get something you really want. Although you aren't getting rid of your clothes specifically, you are getting new clothes without putting old ones into the landfill.

Recycle Them


Recycling clothes is a good way to get rid of them. You can recycle your clothing in a few ways. If you didn't want to donate them to a charity shop, you could see if your local council has a donation point. In my village, we have a textile & clothing bank next to our Co-Op, and one outside a massive Tesco. Look around your local area to see if any of your big supermarkets have these recycling bins outside. 

You can also recycle your textiles at retailers, some of which offer a gift card or credit in exchange. Ironically, Primark is one of the retailers who have introduced a "bring it back scheme". You can also donate to M&S and H&M. If you donate 5 items to Intimissimi, you will receive a £10 gift card. Unlike the other retailers, Intimissimi will let you recycle bras, underwear, knitwear and pajamas! Recycling your clothing does pay!

Make & Sell It On


I mentioned a few ways that you can repurpose your clothing. If you don't want to sell your damaged clothing, why not make amends and then sell it on? Whether you're creating your own upcycled clothing range or creating bags and patchwork blankets, selling your creations will keep clothing out of a landfill and earn you some money! There are lots of things you can make and sell on sites like Etsy. If you're brave enough, you can even sell your upcycled clothes on sites like Depop! If you're stuck with what to make, here are some ideas you could try!

  • Make some patchwork blankets
  • Create cute make-up pouches
  • Make some rag rugs with scraps
  • Turn old band tees into pillows
  • Use old shirts to make a shopping bag
  • Create scarves from old fabric
  • Make your own duvet and pillow sets
  • Re-fabric old chairs and sell them for a profit
  • Create fabric placemats for the dinner table
  • Make a laptop or tablet holder
  • Design camera bags with straps
  • Make pocket warmers for the winter
  • Use scraps & make them into new clothes
  • Make fabric bows or scrunchies

Top Tips For A Sustainable Wardrobe


  • Don't buy clothes you won't be wearing in 5 years
  • Purchase from sustainable businesses
  • Refresh tired clothing by upcycling it or adding accessories
  • Take care of your clothing, following the care instructions properly


There are so many ways to reuse old clothing and keep them out of the landfill. I think about how many people could have used that brand new, 30% of clothing, or how much it could have resold on for, helping families. There is always something you can do! What do you do with your old clothing? Let me know what creative DIY you could make with your textiles in the comments!



Why not read more on sustainable fashion?

How to create a sustainable wardrobe
How Cotton & Push are aiming for a sustainable future
Must-watch documentaries on fast fashion and sustainability

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30 comments

  1. I often gift my clothes to a family friend, give them to charity shops or sell them online! It’s so great to know they are going to better home and I’m helping the environment x

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    1. That's great to know you're doing something a little better than throwing them straight away! Thank you for reading & commenting :)

      Em x

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  2. I have been sorting out my wardrobe recently so these ideas are really helpful whilst I am decluttering and downsizing my wardrobe

    - Stacey | www.staceyhubbard.com

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    1. Goodluck! Thank you for reading & commenting :)

      Em x

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  3. These are some great options. I've always liked the idea of clothes swaps but have never done one before.

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    1. I think they're really fun. Thank you for reading & commenting :)

      Em x

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  4. I have so much love for this post as it's something I've been trying to do a lot more of! Great post and tips lovely xx

    http://www.dellalovesnutella.co.uk/

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    1. That's great, I'm glad it helped! Thank you for reading & commenting :)

      Em x

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  5. Love these ideas! In the past I would donate my clothes to secondhand shops but I love your other creative ideas here too. A clothes swap would be so much fun with friends!

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  6. I think that it's so cool how your family is involved. I've bought/donated to secondhand stores but I want to try to upgrade some clothing this time around. x

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  7. Great post! Thank you for sharing! I always donate my clothes to charity or family members when I get rid of them!

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  8. I often give any clothes I don't want to keep anymore to my younger cousin as she's around the same size as me in terms of clothing, if not, I donate to charity shops as they always need clothes! x

    Lucy | www.lucymary.co.uk

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    1. That's a really nice way to donate clothing! Thank you for reading & commenting :)

      Em x

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  9. This a great post, keeping the clothes in circulation is paramount because landfills are already full of them. The problem with recycling (and fast fashion stores accepting clothes for recycling) is that only 1% gets actually recycled. This is due to all the polyester in our clothes: even if a top is 50% cotton (natural fiber) and 50% polyester (synthetic fiber), the polyester in it makes the entire piece unrecyclable. This is because we can't separate the natural (recyclable) fibers from the synthetic. So, in the end all of those clothes end up on the landfill anyway. It's such a big issue, and one that we really need more awareness on. :)

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    1. Exactly! It's a problem and one that many don't realise. As I said, donating is great, but you've still bought into fast fashion and it will still end up in landfill. The solution is to ditch fast fashion completely, but donating slows the time an item gets into landfill. Hopefully there can be a solutions soon!

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  10. Great advice Em. My old slimming world group used to do a swap and it was a brilliant idea.

    I always donate to our local hospice charity shop as they looked after my Mum x

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    1. Aw that's such a sweet idea. Thank you for sharing that with me!

      Em x

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  11. Such good tips- thank you! It's so hard to be sustainable when you're faced with waste of any kind, and luckily I've always lived near charity shops- but these are some brilliant ideas :)

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    1. Donating is great, but it's not changing the fact that clothes will still end up in landfill. It's a start though! Thank you for reading & commenting :)

      Em x

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  12. I have been doing a lot of these tips for years! I really want to start selling some clothes I have though on eBay but I have no idea about the setting up the account and sending it all off etc. So that is something I want to look into xx

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    1. I have a whole blog post about that! I hope this helps you :)

      https://www.loveemblog.com/2020/05/a-guide-to-ebay-how-i-make-1000-month.html

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  13. I either take my old clothes to the charity shop, or to H&M where they have a recycle scheme!

    https://www.emilyclareskinner.com

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  14. I most often donate my old clothes but repurposing them sounds fun. I'll have to try it! Thanks.

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  15. Thanks for sharing, I always donate my old clothes and jewellery to the charity shop :)

    Nic | Nic's Adventures & Bakes

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  16. These are nice tips! I usually give my old clothes to other people I know or donate it to those who need it. Thanks for sharing these :)

    thequeensights.com

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