If the New Year has you on a KonMari decluttering kick, you'll most likely greet 2017 with half a closet's worth of clothing castoffs. Rather than toss those rejects right into the landfill, here's how to turn them into cash, let them do some good in the world, or give them a second life in a recycled fashion line.
If you're looking to resell your clothing:
If your clothes are in good shape and you wouldn't mind making a couple extra bucks (or $100) off of them, turn to these sites and secondhand stores.
Poshmark = For the social shopper
Like the Instagram of online shopping, the Poshmark app lets you upload images of the items you want to sell and even offers several filters. You can also follow your favorite sellers or attend a "Posh Party," one of the app's 3 daily shopping and selling events organized around a brand or a specific theme. Fans of J.Crew and Anthropologie will have no trouble matching their clothing with eager buyers—but be careful, you may be tempted to spend all the money you just made.
Beacon's Closet = For New Yorkers
The concept here is simple: Bring in your old clothes to one of their Manhattan or Brooklyn locations and the folks at Beacon's Closet will sort through it all in front of you. They'll then offer you 35% cash or 55% store credit based on the price tag they assign your clothing, and items they don't choose to sell will be donated. Those who've done it before recommend presenting buttoned, zipped, clean and folded clothing to give each piece the best shot at a high price. Also, a word of warning to all the sentimental declutterers out there: You may have to watch your younger self's favorite dress get flippantly tossed into the "reject" bin.
ASOS Marketplace = For the serious side hustler
If you're ready to turn your vintage shopping and selling hobby into a full-blown side gig, ASOS Marketplace is the place to set up shop. Similar to Etsy for hip vintage boutiques and independent clothing labels, the Marketplace is a site of community-run shops hosted by the popular retailer ASOS. For about $30 a month (and a 20% sales commission), you and your friends can start a boutique, as long as you stock at least 20 items and follow ASOS's photography guidelines.
If you're looking to donate your clothing:
Here's how to take a bunch of clothing you haven't worn in a year and let it do some good in the world.
Dress for Success = For women's business clothing
If you recently left your corporate job for a startup where you wear a T-shirt and walk around barefoot, donate your closet full of power pantsuits to women in need of professional attire. Dress for Success's goal is to help women achieve financial independence, whether that means helping them dress for the job or providing lessons in financial planning. To donate your clothing, search for your local affiliate, or consider giving a cash donation.
Bottomless Closet = For business chic New Yorkers
Bottomless Closet is a small local organization in New York City with a very similar mission to Dress for Success. Check out their clothing donation page to see what items and sizes they're currently looking for, and you'll also find info on organizing a clothing drive for your office or group of friends. Once you've collected all the gently-worn skirts and suit jackets you can find, drop them off at Bottomless Closet's 52nd Street location.
Housing Works= For both clothing and home goods
Comprised of 12 thrift shops around New York City and Brooklyn (plus a Bookstore Cafe at 126 Crosby Street in Soho), Housing Works raises funds to provide services for homeless and low-income men, women and children affected by HIV and AIDS. Bring clothing, homewares or furniture to one of their drop off locations, or schedule a convenient (and free!) furniture pickup for that credenza you no longer need. Because the wares at each shop are collected locally, each location has a slightly different neighborhood-specific style, making the trek to check out multiple shops well worth it.
Soles4Souls = For gently worn shoes
When last year's sneakers are no longer sparking joy for you, send them to Soles4Souls, an organization that will match them up with someone in need of a new pair of shoes in the United States or 127 countries worldwide. There are several ways to turn in your used kicks: Drop them off at a donation location, purchase a shipping label, or order a free label from Zappos (and get 10% off on your next order!). Now that's a win-win.
If you're looking to recycle your clothing
Are your duds are past the point of donation (I'm looking at you, ripped, threadbare band tees)? If so, check out these services for recycling used clothing.
Goodwill = For clothing in any condition
While many people have the misconception that Goodwill only accepts "gently worn" items, it will actually take even tattered clothing. Whatever can't be sold in one of their thrift stores gets sent to salvaged textile recyclers. From there, Secondary Materials and Recycled Textiles reports that about 45% of items are shipped to countries where the demand for used clothing is higher than in the U.S., 30% become cleaning rags, 20% are recycled into upholstery or insulation, and only about 5% is deemed completely unusable. The takeaway: Don't be afraid to donate items you personally consider unwearable, as they likely can become something better than fodder for the landfill.
H&M = For last season's fast fashion finds
In the world of fast fashion, the production, buying and throwing away of clothing all happens at a dizzying rate. In an effort to close the loop, H&M locations worldwide began accepting donations of clothing of any brand in 2013. From there, the items are either sold at second hand stores, are recycled as rags, or are turned into textile fibers. If you're lucky, your castoffs may get recycled into the brand's Conscious Collection, a line of pieces partially made from clothing donated by H&M shoppers. Talk about things coming full circle.
Zara = One to watch
How many times a month (week??) do you pop into a Zara location? And how often do you discard your purchases after just a couple seasons? In response to this rapid cycle of buying and tossing, Zara is working to set up donation bins for clothing of all brands right in their stores. Zara currently has 300 donation containers in Spain, Portugal and the UK, and the company plans to roll them out at U.S. locations in 2017.
Feeling like you need some support for the big closet clear out? Here's our Closet Cure plan to guide you through the process.