Why You Should Never Throw Your Old Clothes in the Trash

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The Netflix series Tidying Up with Marie Kondo, which offers tips for reorganizing personal space and getting rid of clutter, has inspired many to shrink their overstuffed closets. Thrift stores have seen an increase in donations of used clothing, a phenomenon that's been credited to the influence of the show.

But people have a popular, alternative method of disposal for unwanted clothing. They simply throw it in the trash. And that’s become a real problem.

According to Fast Company, residents of New York City toss 200 million pounds of clothing into the garbage each year. The used clothing goes on to take up space in landfills indefinitely. The Environmental Protection Agency reported in 2015 that 10.5 million tons of textiles wound up in the trash that year.

New York’s fashion leaders and the city’s sanitation agencies have started an advertising campaign directing people to over 1000 drop-off points where unwanted clothes can be deposited for recycling or repurposing. (Apparel companies are still working on ways to effectively reuse materials that are collected.) But if you can't find one of the collection points in your nabe, what can you do with your old clothes?

Selling is one option. Local boutiques may offer only a modest price for your used clothing bundles, but they’ll likely wind up in other hands rather than a landfill. There are also online marketplaces like thredUP and Material World that pay cash or offer store credit for designer or chain-store apparel that you mail in. To maximize their value, it’s best to present clothing folded, buttoned, and cleaned.

You can also try sites like Rehash Clothes to facilitate a clothing exchange with others who are looking to spiff up their wardrobe. If you want to toss clothing because it’s damaged, give some thought to repairing it instead. Things like loose or missing buttons can be simple fixes; stains can be obscured by dyeing material. All of these options can retain some of your clothing’s value.

Whatever you decide to do, it’s best to keep clothing on someone’s back in one form or another—not in the trash.

[h/t Fast Company]