Girl holding paper bag with old clothes for recycling

When coffee stains your favorite sweatshirt permanently– the first thing that comes to mind is the garbage. But have you ever wondered what happens to clothes when you get rid of them?

Of course, they don’t just disappear. Old clothing ends up in landfills for years and years, creating a massive amount of waste. But do you know there are ways to reuse and recycle that clothing instead?

In addition to supporting sustainable clothing brands, old clothes recycling is an essential component of sustainable fashion.

Canada is working hard to make garments into treasure rather than trash, with several initiatives dedicated to keeping clothing out of landfills.

Let’s explore programs that turn old clothes into fresh new items and organizations that work hard to give donated garments a second life.

Ready to dive into the world of old clothes recycling in Canada? Read on to learn more!

Why Clothes Don’t Belong in the Garbage

Many people assume that clothes will decompose in a landfill. That probably explains why textile waste accounts for 6% of plastic waste and use in Canada.

But the truth is that clothes don’t belong in the garbage at all. When clothes are thrown away, they take up valuable space in landfills. But even more concerning is the fact that clothes do not decompose easily.

Many fabrics, such as synthetic materials, may take hundreds of years to break down, contributing to the growing problem of landfill overcrowding.

Garbage dump of clothes

Besides taking up space, throwing clothes in the garbage also hurts the environment. As clothes decompose, they release methane gas, a potent greenhouse gas contributing to climate change.

The fashion industry is one of the world’s most significant contributors to greenhouse gas emissions.

So what should you do with your unwanted clothes instead of throwing them away? There are many options for clothes recycling. You can donate them to thrift shops or charities, participate in clothing swaps or drives, or sell them online.

You can find textile recycling options for clothes that are no longer wearable. Textile recycling involves taking old clothes and breaking them down into fibers for new products.

Not only is clothing recycling better for the environment, but it also provides employment opportunities and supports local businesses in the textile recycling industry.

By recycling our old clothes, we can reduce our impact on the environment and create a more sustainable future.

So, the next time you clean out your closet, think twice before tossing your old clothes in the garbage. Instead, consider recycling them through one of the many options available. You can even repurpose them into cleaning cloths.

How to Recycle Used Clothing in Your Local Community

Would you like to help reduce Canada’s textile waste? You can start by recycling your unwanted, used clothing in your local community. Whether in good condition, all textiles can be reused and diverted from landfills.

Here’s how to get started:

  1. Get a list of textile recyclers in your city or town. You may even find them near your neighborhood.
  2. Check the list for any special instructions on what types of clothing and item sizes the recycler accepts.
  3. Sort through your clothing to separate the items that are still in good condition from the ones that aren’t fit for wearing anymore.
  4. Put those items in a bag or container and drop them off at the closest textiles recycler, free of charge!
  5. If you can’t access a recycling bin and must transport many items, you can check out local pick-up services in some Canadian cities!

National Charities That Accept Used Clothing Donations in Canada

Did you know that you can donate your old clothes to charities in Canada? Several national charities accept used clothing donations, an easy and simple way to reduce waste and help others simultaneously.

Canadian Diabetes Association

The Canadian Diabetes Association (CDA) takes donations of gently used clothes, which are then sold for fundraising or recycled and made into new items.

The proceeds from donations go towards helping children and adults with diabetes access treatments and equipment. It also goes into supporting research into possible cures.

A few old clothes can do tons of good!

The Salvation Army

Another option is The Salvation Army. Here, your clothes will be sold in thrift stores or recycled.

The donations fund community programs like Disaster Services, which provides care packages for vulnerable people impacted by natural disasters.

Habitat for Humanity ReStores

This registered non-profit offers an eco-friendly way to donate clothing—your items are resold in thrift stores or recycled into raw materials for other stuff. Donations also help fund the organization’s work toward building affordable housing in Canada.

Repurposing, Recycling, and Upcycling Ideas

Recycled cloth on hanger with green leave

Every year, Canadians discard about 300,000 tons of textiles. Wow! Creativity and imagination can turn all this potential waste into something useful.

While recycling old clothes in Canada, repurposing and upcycling are keywords you should keep in mind.

Here’s why:


Repurposing extends the life cycle of clothing and even turns them into something completely different than what it used to be.

For example, you can convert an old t-shirt into a cute tote bag, reusable shopping bags, cleaning rags, or pillowcases. It’s easy, and as a bonus, you don’t have to purchase materials for your project—you get to reuse clothing that would otherwise end up in the landfill.


This involves taking an item of clothing and transforming it into something else entirely. Upcycling could be anything like turning a t-shirt into a headband or changing an old pair of jeans into a skirt. The possibilities with upcycling are pretty much endless!

Upcycling has come a long way in recent years, and many companies are now dedicated to cycling old clothes in Canada.

These companies work with local charities and organizations to collect used clothing from the community and create entirely new items.

The best part is that upcycling limits textile waste and provides employment opportunities for fashion industry employees. It’s a win-win situation!


Thankfully, the number of people who recycle clothes is increasing yearly. And it seems like this trend is here to stay.

Recycling old clothes helps divert waste from landfills and keeps garments in use for longer. Thus it helps the environment and leads to fewer consumer purchases.

It also reduces energy use and water pollution associated with virgin fabric production.

Recycling old clothes has many rewards. Here are three key benefits:

  1. Creates jobs – Recycled fabrics are sold to manufacturers who reuse them to produce new products. Therefore, it creates job opportunities locally and throughout the production chain.
  2. Encourages creativity – With recycled materials come more creative choices for fabrics, color combinations, and textures. All these translate to a much lower environmental impact than traditional textile manufacturing processes.
  3. Saves money – Recycled fabrics cost significantly less than new ones, making them a perfect choice for budget-conscious fashionistas!

Start Your Clothing Recycling Drive in Canada

A fantastic way to reduce your environmental footprint is to get involved in old clothes recycling in Canada. You don’t need much effort to start your clothing recycling drive in Canada.

Below, we’ve listed everything you need to get started:

  1. Gather a few friends who are also interested in old clothes recycling
  2. Set a date and pick a location where you can hold your drive
  3. Start collecting items that are still in good condition by asking family, friends, and neighbors
  4. Make sure the items collected are ready for resale and sorted according to type
  5. Reach out to local charities or organizations that will accept the clothing donations
  6. Don’t forget to spread the word through social media and other channels
  7. Have fun, and be proud of yourself for making a difference!

Starting a clothing recycling drive enables you to minimize the amount of clothing waste in landfills and encourage responsible consumption habits among Canadians!

Plus, you’ll feel great about doing something positive for the environment.

New Business Opportunities: Turning Used Clothing Into Profit

Did you know that recycling old clothes in Canada creates new business opportunities? As Canadians become more conscious about consumption and minimizing waste, they increasingly look for ways to turn used and ‘trash’ into treasure.

Indeed, old clothes and textiles are becoming the raw materials for a new industry that creates jobs, stimulates the economy, and lessens our environmental footprint.

That’s why many entrepreneurs have started businesses specializing in collecting, sorting, and recycling old clothes.

Not only are they helping people use their ‘trash,’ but they are also diverting it from landfills.

Here’s a closer look at how these innovative businesses work:

  1. Collection – Donating clothing to thrift stores or partnering with companies to return old items.
  2. Sorting – Categorizing the clothing based on quality, condition, and marketability.
  3. Re-purposing – Cutting fabrics into smaller pieces, providing them as input for manufacturers of products like insulation or rags. Or selling them as vintage clothes in the fashion space.
  4. Recycling – Uses mechanical processes like shredding to convert fabrics into fibers that can be reused for stuffing for sofas or mattresses.
  5. Refurbishing – Using excess fabric from discarded garments and reworking them into fashionable items that can be sold.
  6. Upcycling – Taking discarded clothes and sewing them together to create one-of-a-kind designs

These business models create unique products from otherwise wasted materials and offer an inventive way of turning trash into treasure!

Tips on Recycling

As you can see, recycling old clothes has quite a few benefits! But if you’re not sure how to go about it, these tips will help get you started:

  1. Research local organizations that accept clothing. Charitable organizations like the Salvation Army and Goodwill are great places to start.
  2. Make sure you’re donating clean, undamaged items that still have a lot of life left in them. Label sizes so it’s easy for the recipient to determine fit.
  3. Look for donation bins around the city for street-level donations, or contact local businesses and churches to see if they host donation boxes.
  4. Is your item too worn or torn for donation? Many municipalities provide drop-off bins or curbside pick-up services for textiles that can be recycled instead of thrown away.
  5. Map out your route so you can do multiple drop-offs at once—trade convenience with sustainability by cutting down on car trips!
  6. Purchase a box from a zero waste box provider, fill it with the specified materials, and ship it back to the provider for processing. It’s an effortless way to recycle, compost, or dispose of materials responsibly.

If you follow these tips, you’ll have no trouble finding ways to recycle your old clothes here in Canada. What’s more, you’ll have a lasting positive environmental impact!

Check Out Brands Take-Back Programs & Donation Programs

Preparing old clothes for donation

Luckily, there are many clothing brands out there that are committed to textile recycling programs.

Here are just a few of the brands that have a take-back recycling program or donation opportunities for usable clothing:


This outdoor clothing company has long been committed to sustainability and reducing its environmental impact.

They offer a take-back program called Worn Wear, where customers can trade their old Patagonia clothing items for credit toward new ones.

They also repair and resell used Patagonia clothing items to keep them out of landfills.


The iconic denim brand’s recycling arm, Levi’s SecondHand, allows customers to return their old Levi’s clothing to the brand for a gift card.

Levi’s then resells these items at a discounted price, giving them a second life.


H&M is famous for its clothing and its sustainability drive. This brand has a garment collecting program for people to bring in any old clothing to be recycled. In addition, H&M often uses the materials to create new clothing items, cutting down on landfill waste.


This Japanese clothing brand’s recycling initiative, the All-Product Recycling Initiative, gathers clothing donations from customers for needy people. The program is part of Uniqlo’s commitment to sustainability and minimizing textile waste.


While their clothing business runs quite successfully, Everlane provides a recycling program to protect the environment. It partners with non-profit organizations to donate unsold items to needy people.

You can also drop your clothes off for recycling through their ReNew program. Here, they recycle materials to create new quality clothing items.

The North Face

North Face organizes Clothes the Loop to donate unwanted items like old clothing or footwear. In addition, they recycle donated clothing or repurpose it. The North Face seeks to foster sustainability by reducing waste in the fashion industry.

Eileen Fisher

This high-end fashion brand prioritizes the Renew initiative. As a result, customers often bring in any brand of old clothing to be repaired, resold, or upcycled.

Eileen Fisher also partners with various organizations to donate their unsold items to those in need.


Recycling old clothes in Canada will do the environment a great deal of good in many ways than one. This process also boosts the economy by creating new jobs and providing an affordable source of clothing for people in need.

It also helps conserve natural resources and tackles the shortage of landfill space. Finally, it allows us to do our part to support our local communities and contribute to a more sustainable and greener future.

We can all do our part to make a difference. Whether donating our old clothes, supporting small businesses, or participating in local recycling initiatives.

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