Clothing, fabric, sheets, towels and other textiles should never be put in your household recycling bin. Fortunately, there are lots of other ways to reuse or recycle your old clothing and textiles.
To help charity shops keep their costs down, follow the golden rule for donations: if you would gift it to a friend or family member, then it’s in good enough condition to donate.
Scroll down to find other reuse and recycling services.
WORN / DAMAGED / UNSALEABLE CLOTHING
Some organisations accept worn, damaged and unsaleable clothing (even underwear!) which are recycled into industrial rags or other textile by-products.
Clothing retailers H&M, Zara, Upparel (formerly Manrags) and Uniqlo each have garment collection programs for clothing or textiles, which they reuse or recycle.
Macpac and Patagonia both have trade-in programs for their own pre-loved clothing, where customers can return their worn-out or damaged clothing for store credit.
After offers a home collection service for your used and unwearable clothing, which is then recycled by their textile recycling partners.
Underwear for Humanity has a recycling program for its customers but they only accept their own branded underwear.
QUILT COVERS, SHEETS AND TOWELS
Retailer Sheridan accepts any brand of pre-loved quilt covers, sheets and towels for recycling. Visit your local Sheridan Boutique, Studio or Outlet store.
PILLOWS AND DOONAS
Animal shelters can't accept them for health and safety reasons. These items should not be put in your household recycling bin, so they must be put in your rubbish bin.
GoKindly offers a recycling program for its customers (other brands are not accepted). A postage fee is charged for recycling old pillows. The fabric from the pillow is recycled into yarn.
BEDDING FOR ANIMALS
Old towels and sheets are often needed by animal shelters or vets. Contact your local shelter or vet to see if they will accept them.
RAGS FOR MECHANICS
Old towels, clothing, sheets and other textiles are often appreciated by mechanics who can use them as rags. Contact your local mechanic to see if they will accept them.
Old work uniforms
Australian businesses have a responsibility to take ownership of the textile waste that is produced as a result of corporate uniforms and workwear. We encourage all businesses – large and small – to put in place a uniform recycling program. Businesses can contact Total Uniform Solutions for more information.
Loop Upcycling offers upcycling & recycling services & solutions for corporate workwear, supporting companies in reducing their waste and adopting more sustainable and circular waste management practices, in partnership with local, community organisations, providing training and employment to people experiencing disadvantage (mainly refugees, new migrants and victims of domestic abuse).
The Uniform Exchange has provided a second life for thousands of school uniforms. The website provides the community with a free platform to sell, buy or donate second-hand school uniforms for every school in Australia.
Schools with large quantities of uniforms can contact sustainable start-up Worn Up which offers to collect this textile waste and transform it into new products such as desks that can be used again by students.
Many charities sell second-hand goods and clothing via shops. They're great places to pick up a bargain and help a great cause at the same time!
However, please donate wisely. Charities are paying $13 million a year to send unusable donations to landfill which represents 60,000 tonnes of waste. If you’re unsure whether your clothing is in good enough condition to donate, follow the golden rule for donations: if you would gift it to a friend or family member, then it’s in good enough condition to donate to a charity shop.
Many charity stores will also accept unwanted household items that are in good condition such as appliances, glassware, crockery, accessories, ornaments, jewellery, books, CDs and DVDs, records and furniture.
Before setting out to donate unwanted items to a charity shop, however, please contact them first to ensure they can accept your unwanted items.
If your workplace or business has large quantities of clothing, textiles and other second-hand goods to recycle, visit Business Recycling to find suitable collection or drop-off services.
OTHER CLOTHING DONATION PROGRAMS
Dress For Success and Fitted for Work are both programs in Australia that help women experiencing disadvantage to find work and keep it. They do this by providing free programs, professional attire, and career mentoring and development. Visit their websites to find out what type of clothing is suitable to donate or other ways that you can help.
Clothing Cleanup offers a pick-up service in Sydney for wearable clothing, shoes, handbags, accessories (including hats, belts, scarves) and manchester.
Shoes in decent condition can be donated to charity shops. We are unaware of a recycling service for shoes that are worn out or damaged beyond repair, so, unfortunately, they should be put in your rubbish bin. There are, however, recycling options for sport and active lifestyle shoes.
Shoes for Planet Earth is a not-for-profit organisation that works with local and international communities and companies to provide reused running shoes to those in need around the world. They have drop-off locations in NSW, Vic and Qld. As well as running shoes (no broken soles or holes please), they also accept insoles and spare laces.
TreadLightly is a national recycling initiative that recycles unwanted sport and active lifestyle footwear.
If your business or organisation has large amounts of clothing or textiles to dispose of, search for a commercial clothing recycler on Business Recycling.
Charitable Recycling Australia is the national network of charitable purpose-driven reuse and recycling enterprises. It represents the collective interests of charity and social enterprise retailers through advocacy, capacity-building and education.
For more information about clothing donations, visit the below websites: