5 Ways to Reduce Clothing Waste

The following post about clothing waste is written by College of Textiles student Jon Millner, who is the spring 2014 communications intern in the University Sustainability Office.

With the new spring season fast approaching, I recently did some spring cleaning in my closet and realized how much space is taken up by excess clothing.  I found many t-shirts and outdated jeans that I just knew I wouldn’t wear again.

Turns out I’m not alone. Americans generate 11 billion pounds of clothing waste each year and only about 15 percent is recycled. So if you’re like me and want to find a new home for your former clothes that doesn’t involve sending them to the landfill, check out these five ways to jumpstart an afterlife for clothes you no longer want or need.

Swap and Share

One person’s trash is another person’s treasure, right? Create a clothing exchange among your friends. Have a party where each person brings clothes that he or she no longer wants. Trade with your friends so that everyone leaves with fresh items for their wardrobe – without spending a dime or sending anything to the landfill.


With the popularity of Pinterest and online blogs, DIY has never been so exciting and creative. Check out online DIY resources for creative ideas on how to turn an old t-shirt into something fresh and new. Or come up with your own ideas to re-fashion your clothing.

Rags to Riches

Why not make a couple of extra bucks from nice clothes you no longer want? Resell your clothing online or at your neighborhood consignment shop. Live in the Raleigh area? Find a consignment shop near you.

Donate, Feel Great

Donating your clothing is a great way to give back to the community while also clearing out space in your closet. Donations are often tax-deductible, too.

Don’t Scrap It

Turn your unwanted clothing into functional products. Oversized or faded t-shirt? Great for comfy pajamas. Ripped t-shirt? Might be great for household cleaning. Outdated skirt? Could be a great apron.

As you begin your spring cleaning, keep in mind that your clothing can be kept out of the landfill and recycled, reused or repurposed for the greater good.