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Prepping to Donate

In her new book The Conscious Closet (released August 20th!), Elizabeth Cline articulates very clear guidelines on what is and is not appropriate when donating clothes.

As someone who recently co-hosted a clothing swap, I can attest to the importance of her guidelines.


When considering what to donate, think about what you would want to find at a swap or in a secondhand store. Does this list include:

  • garments covered in animal hair

  • old underwear

  • torn items

  • stained items

  • items with fabric pills

Most of you probably said no to most or all of the above! It is actually comical when we think about running off to a thrift store on the hunt for damaged clothing.


Here are Cline's (paraphrased by me) guidelines:

  • WASH ALL CLOTHING. This is common courtesy. Clothing should not smell funky.

  • Remove stains the best you can.

  • Mend clothing. Stitched up items have a better chance at a second life.

  • Remove all animal hair with a lint roller or piece of packing tape.

  • Remove fabric pills with a small pair of scissors, razor blade, or whatever technique works best for you.

If a garment is beyond the state of being worn again, look into textile recycling.

In SLO there are a few options:

  • Marine Layer -- Drop off old t-shirts to be rewoven into new garments. They have a bin in store as well as pre-labeled packing envelopes that can be mailed in. You can earn up to a $25 store credit for participating in this textile recycling program!

  • Fred & Betty's -- This secondhand store partners with an organization out of Fresno that can resell/recycle clothing that may not find a second life in SLO.

  • H&M-- Any brand, any item. Drop off clothing in their bins in store.


Cline also suggests thinking outside the box for use of old clothing:

  • Call an animal shelter and see if the clothing can be used as blankets or stuffing for animal beds.

  • Cut the old clothes up to be used as cleaning rags.

  • Research places that will accept clothing to use as insulation.

  • Donate clothing to a fashion college/class to use for student art projects.

  • Sew old t-shirts into a memory quilt.


A favorite re-purpose I have seen is cutting an old men's t-shirt into a superhero cape for a child. Also, transforming an old t-shirt into a funky tote bag (think favorite concert shirts).


Whatever you do, find a use for those clothes you no longer wear! If you think someone else would love wearing it, pass it on. If you know that the clothing's life as something wearable is dwindling, find a way to re-purpose it. Let's get creative and keep those textiles out of the land fill!



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