Don't Throw Away Your Clothes! Choose Eco-friendly and Check Out These Places to Donate Instead

In honor of Earth Day, Her Campus Lasell is committed to living sustainably not just for the one day, but every day (because the Earth is literally dying).  Where do you even begin?  This week we will be breaking down how to live sustainably in every aspect of life--  style, beauty, college life, and yes even in your relationships. So sit back, relax, and get ready to make the switch to eco-friendly.

I think it’s safe to say that every single one of us has made a clothing purchase that we regret, or at the very least, bought something that we think is cute at one point that we cringe at later.  There are a lot of reasons why one might want to get rid of clothes in their closet--tastes change, sizes fluctuate, impulses can’t always be repressed. So what should you do if you find yourself in such a situation? Some people would simply throw unwanted clothing out, but I’m a huge proponent of donating clothes.  Growing up with immigrant parents, the thought of simply tossing something that was still useful (even if no longer useful to us) was unfathomable. When my siblings and I outgrew or clothes or decided we didn’t want them anymore, they were rounded up in plastic bags, listed on an Excel spreadsheet, and placed on the stoop to be hauled away by a charity or brought to a local clothing drive.  Donating clothes not only keeps them out of landfills, but it also helps people in need. There are so many charities and nonprofits out there, though, that figuring out where to donate your clothes can be overwhelming. If you want to give your unwanted clothing a new lease on life but don’t know where to start, here are some good organizations to check out:

 

The Epilepsy Foundation of New England

My mom has been making regular donations to this organization for more than a decade now, and it’s not hard to see why.  Not only are they dedicated to helping children and youth diagnosed with epilepsy, but they’re also pretty open about donations and will even pick them up for you.  They accept gently used clothing, including shoes and accessories (scarves, hats, etc.), of all sizes and for all genders. If they can’t accept a donation for whatever reason, they will try their best to recycle it for you.  Learn more about donating to the Epilepsy Foundation of New England here.

Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA)

This is another organization that my mom has been donating to for years.  Their mission is to help American military veterans and they are always looking for clothing donations.  Like the Epilepsy Foundation, they are pretty flexible about what they will accept and will also pick up your donations (though they don’t collect donations in all states).  They accept clothing of all types and sizes including shoes and accessories. Learn more about donating to Vietnam Veterans of America here.

Project G.L.A.M

If you have an old prom gown that you’re looking to get rid of, consider donating it to Project G.L.A.M., a nonprofit that ensures that disadvantaged teenage girls don’t have to miss out on their proms or formal dances.  Their donation requirements are a lot stricter than many other places--the dresses must be “prom-appropriate” and “modern” (which they define as having been purchased within the last decade), and they do not accept shoes.  You’d also need to mail in your gowns. Let’s be honest,though-- are you really going to wear your prom dress again? Probably not. Learn more about donating to Project G.L.A.M here.

The Red Cross

The Red Cross resells items instead of putting them to direct use, but the proceeds all go to help victims of natural disasters.  They accept all kinds of clothing, including shoes and accessories, and they can be dropped in one of their many donation bins. If your donation is valued at $250 or more, you can receive a tax deduction for it.  Learn more about donating to The Red Cross here.

Local Thrift Stores and Organizations

The places that I have listed here are all national organizations that take clothing donations, but don’t forget to look around your city or town for local organizations that you could donate to as well.  Thrift stores are always open to clothing donations, and many schools and houses of worship regularly run clothing drives as well. Sometimes stores even pair up with charities to take donations. Never underestimate your options. 

It’s easy to feel good about yourself if you donate clothes, but remember, don’t just randomly throw clothes into the donation box.  Before you send an article of clothing to a nonprofit, make sure that it’s not permanently stained, ripped, or been washed so many times that it’s see-through (this happens a lot with white shirts).  You should also research the organization beforehand to see if they’re looking for particular types of clothing or have any restrictions on what you can donate (don’t send a t-shirt to an organization looking for semi-formal attire, or adult-size clothing to a place that’s asking for children’s clothing).  If you can’t donate an unwanted piece of clothing for whatever reason, see if there’s a place near you that recycles textiles, or head over to Pinterest or YouTube to find a DIY project you can repurpose it for.