From Trash to Treasure; Turning Your Old Clothes Green

Wondering what to do with all the clutter you've cleared out of your closets and drawers? What seems like junk to you can be valuable to someone else so consider donating to one of the several charities that make it easy for you to turn your trash into someone else's treasure.

Some ideas to get you started:

  • Eyeglasses: Drop off your old prescription glasses and non-prescription sunglasses at your nearest Sunglass Hut. The company will deliver them to those in need through its work with OneSight, a global non-profit. Lions Club International has a similar program. Contact your local club to find out where you can bring old eyeglasses or mail them to a recycling center.
  • Shoes: Soles4Souls collects gently worn shoes and distributes them to the needy. Drop off your old shoes at a nearby donation location or mail them to one of its distribution centers. An added incentive: Get 10% off a new pair of Timberland footwear when you drop off a pair of gently used shoes at one of its stores. If your athletic shoes are too worn out to donate, then Nike will recycle them into a material that's used in sports surfaces, playgrounds, and new products. Click here for Nike's Reuse-A-Shoe drop-off locations and a mail in address.
  • Women's work clothes: Dress for Success helps disadvantaged women get jobs by providing professional clothing, career development workshops, and a support network. Donate your suits, blouses, and other work clothes and shoes that are clean and in good shape. If you wouldn't feel comfortable wearing an outfit to a job interview, then don't donate it. Click here for more details on what to give.
  • Wedding Dress: Each year thousands of new and used wedding gowns are donated to Brides Against Breast Cancer. The organization sells them to brides at discounted prices and uses the proceeds to benefit women with metastatic breast cancer and their families. I can't think of a better use for a gown that's just collecting dust at the back of a closet.
  • Prom Dresses: helps girls donate special occasion dresses to those who can't afford them. Click here for a list of drop-off locations.
  • Books: Ask your local library, school, or hospital if they can use books you no longer need. Otherwise, consider sending them to the Global Literacy Project, which distributes books to communities, libraries, and schools around the world. There are also several websites that are dedicated to helping you swap old books into new reading material.

There's always the option of turning your trash into your own treasure. Try eBay, Craigslist, having a garage sale or selling items to your local consignment shop.

What if you can't find a buyer or a place to donate? Give unwanted items away for free to someone who lives nearby. Click here to find your local reuse group.