folded clothes inside a plastic storage box on a table with a sticky note with text 'donation' hand written on it stuck to the box

How to Get Rid of Your Old Clothes in 2024: Five Ways to Responsibly Dispose of Old Clothing

In this blog, we are going to take a deep dive into the reasons why you should choose a responsible method for getting rid of your old clothes as opposed to throwing them in the bin. We’ll also take you through our five favourite ways to get rid of your clothes responsibly so you can choose the right method for you.

But, why it is important to responsibly get rid of your unwanted clothes?

No more excuses: There are more ways than ever to get rid of your old clothes the right way

Putting your head in the sand isn’t an option anymore. Gone are the days when the only convenient way for you to clear out your old clothes was through your local charity shop that was a 45-minute bus journey away.


We’ve chosen to focus on our five favourite ways to responsibly get rid of your old clothes, but we could have gone on for much longer than that because there are just so many convenient and interesting ways to responsibly get rid of your old clothes these days.


Whether it be through online marketplaces, recycling centres or a local clothes swap, new and existing businesses are creating platforms and schemes focused on the responsible disposal or reuse of old and unwanted clothing.


Second hand clothing sales have rocketed nearly 50% in the last year which is creating a whole new retail sector that is feeding off the demand of those who want to see positive change in the reduction of clothing waste and improvements in fashion circularity and recycling.


Textile waste is at an all-time high and there are no signs of it slowing down

Finding the right route for responsibly getting rid of your old clothes can be the difference between your old clothes unnecessarily ending up at landfill or them going through the appropriate process for the condition, quality and composition of your item.


Becoming more informed on the responsible disposal methods for unwanted clothes has become more important. Each year 92 million tonnes of textile waste is produced around the world and this is on track to reach 134 million tonnes by 2030.


Despite increasing legislation and regulatory processes being introduced around the world to hold those producing the most waste accountable and responsible, waste is inevitable when there are 100 billion new garments produced annually and these garments are getting 50% less wears.


Spend your money wisely, it matters

The cost-of-living crisis has forced consumers to review where they are spending and trim back on the non-essentials. To combat rising costs but still appease their retail desires 43% of UK adults said they have turned to buying second-hand. Back in 2022, half of those surveyed as part of Depop annual research said that they have been buying more second-hand clothes as a way of saving money in 2022.


As we know there is no shortage of clothing to go around but combine that with the wide availability of second-hand shops, charity shops and online marketplaces. Consumers have a greater opportunity to find huge savings.


When responsibly getting rid of your old clothes through online marketplaces, donation centres or clothes swaps you are allowing someone else to enjoy that piece of clothing on a budget. Not only does responsibly getting rid of your clothes have a positive environmental impact, but it can also have a positive financial impact for someone else.


If you bin my old clothes, what will happen?

If you choose to throw your old and unwanted clothes in the bin, there is a very high chance they will end up in landfill, unless your local council has a textile recycling channel in place. These are costly and not something many, if any, councils are investing in during the cost-of-living crisis.


Once your clothes make it to landfill, it’s a slow and environmentally damaging process from then on in. Clothing made from synthetic fibres, such as polyester, can take hundreds of years to decompose. To make matters worse, once these clothes are sitting on a landfill heap decomposing, they are emitting methane gas and toxic chemicals from dyes are seeping into the soil and groundwater.


If your old and unwanted clothes don’t sit on a landfill heap for hundreds of years, it is likely they will be incinerated. Incineration of textiles produces ash which contains harmful chemicals that are damaging to breathe in. We’re still unsure as to which process is worse.


Our five favourite ways to responsibly Get Rid of your unwanted clothes

1. Selling your unwanted clothes online through online marketplaces

Online marketplaces are a great way to responsibly get rid of your unwanted clothes. Platforms such as eBay, Depop and Vinted allow you to rehome your unwanted clothes and make a little money in the process.


By using an online marketplace, as opposed to a physical sale at your local car boot sale, you are presenting your unwanted clothes to a wider audience which increases the likelihood they will find a new home.


As the seller, it is important that your unwanted clothes are in an acceptable condition. Don’t forget, the whole purpose of online marketplaces is to extend the life of an item. If the clothing item you want to get rid of has extensive signs of use and it couldn’t be worn many times by someone else in the future, it isn’t suitable for resale.


Keeping your clothes in circulation and allowing them to be cared for by another is a highly responsible way to get rid of your clothes because there is no waste. However, if your clothes aren’t suitable for resale, this isn’t the method for you.


2. Let someone else do the work for you!

Although we’re big fans of online marketplaces as a method for responsibly disposing of your old clothes, using them can be time consuming especially if you have a lot of items to get rid of.


To reap the rewards of using online marketplaces, your listings need to be top notch. Buyers expect good quality images and detailed listings with measurements.


However, there are ways to make money from your unwanted clothes without the faff of online marketplaces. Get Rid by Sunshine Thrift is the most efficient way to responsibility get rid of your unwanted clothes and get a little something in return. Get Rid has been designed with ease in mind so even if you are time poor or simply can’t be bothered with the extra work that comes with using online marketplaces, you can still reap the rewards of responsibly getting rid of your old clothes.


Simply create a Get Rid order online and tell Sunshine Thrift about the items you want to responsibly get rid of and within 24 hours they will provide you with a value for your items and invite you to order your mailer bag to send them your old clothes.


The best part is you have a choice of three payment methods: cash via PayPal, Sunshine Thrift vouchers to spend on their online second-hand store or make a donation to your chosen charity.


Once your unwanted clothes arrive back with them, your chosen payment method will be processed within 72 hours. Like we said, efficient!


They will find a new home for your unwanted clothes on their online store, but you don’t have to wait for your items to sell, unlike consignment services such as Thrift+. They take care of the whole process for you; all you have to do is choose which items to send.


But make sure to read their Get Rid guidelines before creating a Get Rid order to make sure they can accept your items.


3. Using clothing recycling centres and clothing banks

Using textile recycling centres to get rid of your unwanted clothes can be the quickest way to responsibility clear out your old clothes. Recycling centres or clothing bins are readily available in places such as supermarket car parks. It is estimated there are approximately 15,000 clothing banks throughout the UK alone.


Brands such as Zara, H&M and Primark are also introducing take back schemes which provides more convenient recycling channels.


These retailers are opening up their doors to accepting your unwanted clothes and processing them through channels which divert your old clothes from landfill.


As an example, Primark have partnered with Yellow Octopus who collect your unwanted clothes from your local Primark branch and take them to one of their depots to be sorted. Their sorting team will determine whether your clothing is suitable to be re-worn or if it can be repurposed into something else. But whatever the item or condition, they will prevent it from going to landfill.


Choosing this route to responsibility dispose of your unwanted clothes guarantees that your clothes will end up in the hands of experts who will know what the best course of action is for your particular item. The accessibility of this option also makes it a great choice for time conscious people who just want their old clothes out of their wardrobe, as well as those with old clothes that are no longer suitable for resale.


4. Donating unwanted clothes to charity

With over 11,000 charity shops in the UK and the vast majority of these accepting clothing donations, you will never be short of opportunities to donate your unwanted clothing to a local charity. Just like clothing recycling centres and clothing banks, this is an efficient and easy way to quickly get rid of the unwanted clothes that are clogging up your wardrobe.


But…and it’s a big but, this isn’t necessarily the most responsible way to get rid of your unwanted clothes. Contrary to common belief, only 10-30% of donated clothes are resold in charity shops. The remaining pieces are sorted and either ‘sent away’ to the global south or incinerated or head straight to landfill.


The clothes which are ‘sent away’ to the global south are not guaranteed to find a new owner. With a large amount of the western world’s unwanted clothes ending up under the responsibility of poorer, less developed countries, the same issues prevail. The system is overwhelmed and whilst the western landfills may not be seeing your unwanted clothes, the landfills in countries like Ghana are.


With knowledge like this becoming more and more common place, it doesn’t have to be the end for donating your clothes to your local charity shop. Clothing donations account for a large proportion of charity shop’s income, but the struggle comes with the quality of goods donated. The better quality your item is, the more likely your local charity shop will be able resell it in store.


As the charity shop’s position in the retail world evolve and grow in importance, they are investing in new ways to find new buyers for donated items. Charity’s such as the Children’s Air Ambulance sell through their physical stores but also through online marketplaces such as eBay.


When choosing which charity shop you are heading to next with your bin bag of unwanted clothes, perhaps find one with a growing online customer base who has an increased chance of finding a new home for your unwanted clothes.


5. Organise a clothes swap

Organising a clothes swap with friends or people in your local community is another great way to responsibility get rid of your unwanted clothes. It keeps clothes in circulation and is a great way to pick up some new pieces. This is especially true if you are having a clothes swap with friends and you can finally get your hands on your bestie’s favourite jumper that you have had your eyes on for years.


Our final thoughts on ways to responsibly get rid of your old clothes

For us, choosing a method to get rid of your old clothes which keeps them in circulation appears to be the most responsible approach. However, we also appreciate that a lot of people’s old and unwanted clothing is not suitable for resale or reuse. It is important that there is continued investment and research into new methods of recycling for old clothing which has seen its day.


For now, choosing a method to responsibly get rid of your old clothes that diverts them away from landfill is a positive step in the right direction because landfill and incineration should always be considered absolute last resorts.


We have a deep appreciation for the part in which convenience plays in the consumer’s approach to second hand fashion and getting rid of old clothes. Find a convenient method which works for you, other than your bin, for getting rid your old clothing and with time we expect to see more and more channels opening that will provide even more ways to guarantee your old clothing will not have a negative impact on the environment. Should you choose to sell your unwanted clothes on, any financial gain is a cheeky added bonus!.


Learn more about Get Rid with Sunshine Thrift.

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