Sure, tossing them in the trash is an easy way to go, but it’s not exactly the most upstanding (read: environmentally conscious) thing to do—over 11 million tons of textiles (the majority of which was discarded clothing) wound up in landfills in 2018, while only 2.5 million tons were recycled, according to the EPA. That’s why choosing clothing donations instead is so important. Your old stuff can get new life with someone else who will love them all over again—and it can even help someone in need earn an income.
But we’re back to question number one: Where to donate your clothes. Below, find some of the most-popular options, along with expert tips on what, exactly, you should and shouldn’t donate.
Why is it a good idea to donate clothes, again?
How much time do you have? There are actually a bunch of reasons why donating clothes is so important, says Tony Peressini, chief executive officer of clothing donation company GreenDrop. For starters, it’s environmentally conscious. “It takes 2,700 liters of water to make one cotton shirt,” Peressini says. “For perspective, that’s enough water for one person to drink for 2.5 years.” Donating your clothes also helps leave space in landfills for other items.
And finding new homes for things you're no longer wearing helps people in need who can’t afford clothing, too, Peressini says. While on a personal level, donating your clothes helps reduce clutter in your home.
What are considered good clothing donations?
In general, anything that someone can reuse is worth donating. “Gently-used items such as all articles of clothing, shoes, blankets, and bedding will be accepted,” says Peressini. But there is at least one organization that will take stuff that’s falling apart, too. (More on that later.)
What clothes shouldn’t you donate?
The main goal of donating your clothes is really to pass on stuff that can be used by someone else. “Overly worn items that are too damaged to re-wear should not be donated,” Peressini says. So, if you have clothes with holes or that’s falling apart, it’s really best to use it as a rag or send it to an organization that specifically takes these donations.
Where to donate your clothes
There are a lot of options out there, and the best clothing donation site for you may simply be the one that’s closest to your home. These are some of the most-common places to donate your clothes.
There are locations practically everywhere, and funds from the nonprofit’s thrift stores help people in need find jobs through placement services and job training. Simply drop off your clothes at a donation center near you.
2. Salvation Army
The international charity organization provides a wide range of services, from operating homeless shelters to hosting food pantries, supporting drug and alcohol rehabilitation, and helping victims of domestic abuse. Clothing donations go toward the organization’s thrift stores, which benefit the nonprofit’s adult rehabilitation centers. You can make a donation at a drop-off center or schedule a pickup.
GreenDrop works with charitable programs in the mid-Atlantic region to bring donated items to them. The company helps the American Red Cross, Military Order of the Purple Heart, National Federation of the Blind, and the Society of St. Vincent de Paul of Philadelphia. When you want to donate your clothes, you can bring them to a GreenDrop location (find one near you here) or you can call 888-944-3767 to schedule a pickup at your home.
4. American Red Cross
The American Red Cross provides emergency assistance and disaster relief to people in the U.S. and around the world. You can donate your clothes to the humanitarian nonprofit by finding a clothing donation bin near you. If you live in the mid-Atlantic region, you can also contact GreenDrop about donating your clothes to the Red Cross.
5. Free the Girls
Got old bras you no longer want or need? You can give them to organization, which sends donated bras to women who have survived human trafficking. The women can then sell the bras in second-hand markets in their communities around the world and earn money to support themselves. To donate, fill out an online bra donation form on the nonprofit’s website and drop off your bras at a location near you.
Soles4Soles specializes in shoe donations but accepts clothes, too. The company collects your gently used stuff and then sends it to people in need in both the U.S. and internationally. It even helps some people create businesses to sell the donated goods they receive. Fill out a donor form and find a drop-off location in your area to make a donation.
7. Dress for Success
This nonprofit is specifically geared toward connecting low-income women with professional clothes for work, making it perfect for those suits you never wear anymore. It operates in nearly 150 cities, and has helped more than 1.2 million women. The group accepts ready-to-wear, work-appropriate clothes for women only. Also, please note: All donations need to be cleaned and in good condition. You can drop off donations at an affiliate location near you.
8. Planet Aid
While most nonprofits prefer clothes that are in good shape, Planet Aid takes just about everything—that includes items that have holes, stains, or tears. What they don’t accept, though, is dirty or moldy clothes. The organization then takes these clothes and sells or reuses them in developing countries. Proceeds made from the sales are used to fight poverty in those areas. To donate your clothes, find a drop-off location near you.
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