#1Thing: Ways to Recycle Your Old Winter Clothes For a New Season

Recycled Clothing
Photo credit (Photo: miflippo/Getty Images)
By Lori Melton

Rearranging your closet to get ready for winter usually means putting away lighter, summer pieces to make room for sweaters, hoodies, and other warm clothes. When looking through your winter wardrobe, chances are you’ll find things that don’t fit, or you haven’t worn in ages.

Instead of tossing unwanted items out and adding to the over-crowded landfill, consider these tips for recycling your old winter clothes and giving them new life.

Swap Stuff

An eco-friendly and economical way to revamp your winter wardrobe is to swap stuff you no longer want. Whether you do it informally with friends and family members, host a swap party at home, or join a community swap event, trading clothes with others can be fun and rewarding. Most importantly, it helps reduce waste.

Repurpose Items

If you’re crafty, you can find creative ways to repurpose sweaters, winter tees, socks, and more. For example, you can make a cute pair of mittens from an old sweater. Just cut out the pattern at the bottom of the sweater near the hem, using your hand as a guide. See detailed instructions here.

Plus, you can easily turn an old sweater into a decorative pillow. All you need is a sweater, a pair of scissors, and a needle and thread. Just follow these simple step-by-step instructions by HGTV and soon, you’ll have a cozy new toss pillow to spruce up any space.

Making a t-shirt quilt is a fun, nostalgic way to recycle your favorite well-worn tees. These also make great gifts for college students, your concert-tee-loving friend, or spouse. It’s also a creative way to preserve special memories. The quilt can be whatever size you’d like and as detailed as you want. The Spruce Crafts has a set of easy-to-follow instructions.

As for fuzzy, mismatched socks, you can turn those into cute bean bags for a toss-across game, a set of arm warmers, a super chic coffee mug cozy, and more.

Give to Clothing Recycle Programs

Companies of all sizes are making sustainable practices a top priority. Some retailers are even taking in unwanted clothes for recycling.

One prime example is The North Face’s global Clothes the Loop program. Just drop off your used apparel and footwear (it can be in any condition and any brand) to any North Face location. You’ll earn a $10 reward toward your next purchase of $100 or more at any The North Face retail or outlet store.

The company sends all collected items to Soles4Souls nonprofit for repurposing. Since launching the program, The North Face has collected 95,000 pounds of used clothing and footwear.

Another retail recycling option is the Blue Jeans Go Green Denim Recycling program. Participating stores, like American Eagle Outfitters, will repurpose your used denim jeans and jackets.  

Take Items to a Thrift Shop

Taking clothing you no longer want or need to a local thrift shop is another idea. Many stores take your pieces in on consignment and pay you a portion of the sales price. Other stores allow you to donate items for store credit. Who knows, while you’re there, you might score some fabulous finds and repurpose someone else’s former treasure in a fun new way!

Help Those in Need

Winter weather is especially harsh for those in need. National and local charity organizations such as the Salvation Army, The American Red Cross, community outreach programs, shelters, schools, and churches are all places that take clothing, coat, and shoe donations for those who might otherwise struggle to stay warm during cold winter weather.

Do an internet search or check your local newspaper for clothing collection centers or drop-off locations.