Responsible Ways to Get Rid of Clothes, Shoes, and Socks

Ghana, a country in West Africa, receives 15 million used clothing items from the West every week. These are clothes that we might have donated to thrift stores or charities. Unfortunately, the majority of them are packed in bales, put into shipping containers, and shipped off to countries like Ghana.

Once they arrive, around 40% of these clothes are discarded due to poor quality. They end up in landfills and water bodies, causing damage to the environment and human lives.

These stats show that donating clothes alone is not the best way to get rid of old clothes. It is equally crucial to ensure that we donate the appropriate clothes to the appropriate locations. This will guarantee that they are either reused or, at the very least, recycled.

Here’s how to get rid of clothes or shoes so that they get a second chance and not end up in landfills:

How To Get Rid of Clothes Responsibly

Right off the bat, here are the 10 Best Websites to Sell Your Clothes Online. If you’d like to donate your clothes instead of selling them, Buy Nothing Groups or Facebook Marketplace are great ways to do that within your community.

If your closet has slightly worn-out clothes or clothes with damages that can’t be sold or donated, recycling programs run by brands like For Days and Thousand Fell (it even runs a shoe recycling program) can help you with getting rid of old clothes. All you have to do is order an empty bag from these brands, fill it up with your clothes, and ship it back to them. These brands will sort them and recycle them appropriately.

If you have winter stuff, you can even drop them off directly at homeless shelters or youth emergency shelters in your area. You can even donate your professional clothing to homeless shelters. It might benefit someone appearing for job interviews.

How to Get Rid of Socks and Underwear Responsibly

Socks are one of the most discarded pieces of apparel. If you're wondering what to do with old socks and you’re up for a DIY, check out 3 Ways to Mend a Hole in a Sock. Otherwise, you could donate them to Smartwool, which makes Merino wool-based socks and apparel and also runs a sock recycling program called the Second Cut Project.

If you have old, unwanted undergarments, most donation centers, thrift stores, and consignment shops won’t accept them for sanitary reasons.

You can send them to innerwear brand Subset, which runs a recycling program along with Supercircle. It accepts underwear, bras, socks, and tights of all kinds. As a reward, you'll earn $15 to use on your next order from Subset, which makes underwear that’s better for your bum and the planet.

How to Get Rid of Old Shoes Responsibly

Unfortunately, disposing of shoes is not as simple as it seems because they are made of multiple materials that are hard to separate and recycle. If they end up in landfills, shoes can take 30-40 years to decompose.

You can increase the life of your shoes by donating them to programs like Soles4Souls or GotSneakers. If they are no longer reusable, you can recycle them using Terracycle’s recycling program. We have also compiled a list of 5 Ways to Recycle (or Reuse) Your Shoes.

By being mindful of where and how we donate or dispose of stuff from our closet, we can make a positive impact on the planet.


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