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Digital Projects


Options for Recycling Clothes

Recycling is the most environmentally sound way that we can accommodate the enduring physical manifestation of what is essentially ephemeral. New fashions come out seasonally, if not within a shorter period of time, and in order to make room for the new we must part with clothes of seasons past. Today, there are multiple venues for recycling our clothes. Convenience plays a large part in logistics of the transaction; the ease of passing on old clothes often determine which approach we choose to take. Fortunately, options for recycling clothes are deliberately made to be convenient so there is little reason to cast aside clothes for landfill.

Non-profit organizations with altruistic motives for selling second-hand clothes offer drop off centers in convenient locations. Others that are less benevolent, like Wearable Collections, set up shop in well trafficked green market sites. Through these venues, recyclers do not profit, although a tax deduction is an option when donating directly to a charitable organization.

Another outlet for recycling our clothes is the 21st century offshoot of the consignment shop, an option that continues to be a venue for recycling. Today, there are online second-hand marketplaces where clothing recyclers can individually profit from selling used clothes. My second-hand clothes benefactor separated her intact fashionable clothes and designer handbags from other items that she will bring to the drop off Salvation Army bin near her home. The clothes in the former category, she will try to sell on Poshmark. With her account created on Poshmark, she simply has to upload images of the items to sell, wait for confirmation of a sale, package the items and attach the Poshmark provided shipping label. For this service, Poshmark takes a commission on the sale. ThredUp, another option in this category, operates a little differently. Recyclers on ThredUp can request a Clean Out kit which is used to ship old clothes directly to ThredUp. They will evaluate the clothes to meet their standards. Clothes that meet their standards and are likely to be sold quickly will be processed for payout; high quality items that may be harder to sell will follow the consignment model and payment will be made when the item is sold. ThredUp donates items that do not meet their standards to third party sellers or to textile recyclers. They will also donate clothes to charitable organizations. Poshmark and ThredUp are just two of the for-profit online marketplaces that have launched in the past few years.