Do you have something in your wardrobe you don’t use? If you don’t, you’re very unusual! But you can recycle your old clothes for cash – either for yourself or to help a charity. Find out how.
Recycle your old clothes for cash
We’ve looked at what some of the big retailers are doing and how else you can recycle your clothes for cash. This is what we’ve found:
John Lewis has just announced that they are launching an app, which will allow customers to sell back their worn and unwanted clothes to the retailer.
You can only sell back clothes you’ve bought from John Lewis. The way it works is that the app lets you choose what you want to sell and will tell you what you’ll receive. Once you’ve sold back £50 worth of clothes, a courier will collect them. You’ll then be emailed a John Lewis e-gift card to the value of the items sold.
John Lewis will resale items it buys back (but not in John Lewis stores), get them mended or recycle them into new products.
The app has been developed with the social enterprise company Stuffstr.
SAVVY TIP: the app is on trial and isn’t available to download yet, but we’ll update this page with a link when it is.
Since 2008, M&S has encouraged customers to bring their unwanted clothing to a store and put them into a Shwop Drop box for Oxfam. You don’t get any money if you do this in an M&S store, but you’ll get 50 points if you’ve signed up to M&S’s loyalty points scheme called Sparks. If you drop any M&S clothes off at an Oxfam shop, you’ll get a £5 voucher to spend in M&S.
The charity then either resells the clothing in one of their shops or on the Oxfam Online Shop or sells it to be reused outside the UK. Any clothing that can’t be sold in this way is recycled (for things like fibres for mattress filling, for example).
M&S says that nothing goes to landfill and that you can Shwop clothing that isn’t from the retailer.
Since launch, Shwopping has collected over 20 million items, worth an estimated £16 million for Oxfam’s work.
SAVVY TIP: you’ll find Shwop Drop boxes by the tills in most M&S stores. You can collect 50 Sparks every time you Shwop by showing your unwanted clothes at the till before dropping them in the box. You can find out more about Sparks and other loyalty scheme in our article on five leading loyalty schemes.
H&M lets you drop off your unwanted clothes, no matter what brand or condition, in their stores worldwide. In the UK, they will give you a £5 voucher to redeem against a £25 spend for each bag of clothes – they even accept old duvet covers and sheets. This scheme has been running since 2013.
After you donate your unwanted clothes, H&M’s partner I:CO collects and sorts them. They are then either sold as second hand clothes, turned into other products, such as cleaning cloths, or turned into textile fibres and used for things like insulation.
Donations from recycling these clothes are given to the H&M Foundation and split between social projects, recycling projects. And for each kilogram of textiles collected, 0.02 euros is donated to a local charity organisation.
In the long term, H&M says they want to find the technological solutions needed to be able to fully reuse and recycle all textile fibre – currently a single garment can contain up to 20% recycled fibres (cotton or wool) without any loss of quality or durability.
Since it’s launch, H&M has collected more than 55,000 tonnes of garments.
Nike’s Reuse-A-Shoe programme collects old, worn-out sports shoes of any brand that would otherwise go to landfill and transforms them into Nike Grind, a material used to create athletic and playground surfaces and more. You don’t get any money or points for bringing in old Nike shoes.
Nike says that more than 1.5 million pairs of worn-out shoes are collected for recycling each year, in addition to thousands of tonnes of pre-consumer manufacturing scrap material that is also recycled.
Since its launch in the early 1990s, Nike has collected more than 28 million pairs of used sports shoes.
You can recycle your shoes by bringing up to 10 pairs to any Reuse-A-Shoe collection location. Find your nearest location here.
You can also send your shoes directly to Nike’s recycling facility, although Nike won’t cover your delivery costs:
SAVVY TIP: Nike doesn’t accept sandals, flip-flops, dress shoes, boots or shoes containing metal such as cleats or spikes.
Swishing is a way of getting together with your friends, family and community and exchanging unwanted clothes for new ones.
To take part, you must bring at least one item of quality clothing. You will have half an hour to browse before the swish starts and if there’s something you like the look of, you’ll need to be prepared to move fast as soon as the swish is declared open everyone can claim items they like!
SAVVY TIP: You can find out more information about how to arrange your own Swishing party or join one of the organised events on Swishing.com.
The online marketplace eBay is a good way to recycle your old clothes and make some money. But remember that eBay is the home of bargain seekers, so you’ll get a better result if you aren’t greedy.
It’s an idea to sell recognised labels – they don’t need to be a designer brand, although you’d be surprised at what people will pay to get a designer label – and make sure you use decent photographs so potential buyers can see details.
There are fees involved in selling on eBay. You can use their online fee calculator to get an estimate of total fees for your item.
SAVVY TIP: find out more about selling your clothes on eBay in our guest article.
Samara’s Aid Appeal is an amazing charity that collects good quality clothing and sends them in lorries directly to families in Syria and Iraq who have been devastated by ISIS. There are more than 13 million people in need of humanitarian help in Syria alone.
Samara Levy, a mum from Brighton, set up the charity in 2014 after seeing TV reports of Syrian refugee children wearing nothing but flip flops and summer clothes in the snow. You don’t get any money for doing this, but the satisfaction of knowing that your clothes are going to a good cause.
The charity is entirely run by volunteers and they have so far sent more than 97 artic lorries and containers of aid to Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Jordan, clothed more than 250,000 people, sent 11 ambulances and a range of specialist medical equipment and opened hospitals in Syria, which provide emergency medical care. They are in the process of building a critical care hospital.
Find out what clothing the charity accepts, and also how you can donate to it, on samarasaidappeal.org.
Still not sure?
Did you know that around 300,000 tonnes of unwanted clothes go into landfill every year? This equates to £140 million in cash. These figures were released by the charity Wrap (Waste & Resources Action Programme) in a report in 2017. It’s a lot of clothes and fabric going to waste.
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