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Used Clothing Donation for Reuse and Recycling

Posted by Jerrold Litwinenko / February 29, 2008

used clothing donation box torontoI just learned that some 85% of recyclable clothes are being thrown in the garbage. I didn't think the figure could be that high.

Although the Ontario Federation for Cerebral Palsy's Used Clothing Donation program does accept all clothing items, some are more likely to see quicker turnaround as resale than others.

Perhaps these lovely lady lacies will instead find their way into the textile recycling stream, which will safely reincorporate materials into things like furniture, mattresses, yarn, and paper products.


For more info on used clothing donation and to find locations for donations in Toronto, check out the following sites:

OFCP's Used Clothing Program
The Salvation Army
Value Village

blogTO Flickr pooler HighPlainsDrifter Photography snapped this photo outside the Armour Heights Community Centre (at Avenue Rd. & Wilson).



Joe Howell / February 29, 2008 at 03:17 pm
Really? Old clothes into furniture? I could dig having a couch made entirely out of "lovely lady lacies." A love seat, perhaps.
Andrew / February 29, 2008 at 03:44 pm
85% doesn't surprise me. I once volunteered with some friends at "Double Take" - Yonge Street Mission's used clothing store on Gerrard just east of Parliament. Our only job was to 'push back' the enormous mountain of clothing in the back room so that more floor space could be made for the endless supply of used clothing coming in each day.

Talk about an embarrassment of riches...
lily dustbin / February 29, 2008 at 03:55 pm
I volunteer at a tiny thrift store and to me 85% sounds high but not totally unbelievable. We have three bins - one for donations coming in, one for garbage going out and one for donations which are unsuitable for our store but may be useful to organisations who collect for developing countries or disaster-relief, etc. Unfortunately I'm skeptical about how much of the latter actually goes anywhere useful vs. ending up in the trash.

The garbage and relief bins are always more full than what we take in to the store to sell. Always.

People go to thrift stores to find bargains in great shape and although people who donate their wares have good intentions, most items that get donated have stains or rips or armpit rot and we just can't put it out.

I love the idea of recycling clothing into furniture, mattresses, etc...
RBeezy / March 1, 2008 at 12:43 am
I'd like to see an audit done on all of these purported clothing recyclers. from what I understand the vast majority of donated clothes are sold to brokers who ship them overseas for resale in third world countries.
Chris Orbz / March 2, 2008 at 05:04 pm
Joe: Something like this? ;P
judy / April 30, 2008 at 06:09 pm
does anyone know of a clothing recyle(er) that takes material form the clothes that is not saleable... is it shreaded and turned into something else?\thanks Judy
Diane / June 10, 2008 at 09:35 pm
85% sounds about right to me, but perhaps not for the reason you might think. Decades ago when I was a kid, Goodwill and Salvation Army and other missions had truly needy people who needed clothing, any serviceable clothing. I invite anyone to try to donate what I call "car-washing clothes" (i.e. they are functional but not suitable for 'polite company')to these organizations today. IF they are accepted, they will be thrown away. Even international 'relief' organizations do not accept or actively discourage donations of any used clothing or any actual items and instead encourage cash donations. I feel really terrible about throwing away an item of clothing that could still be used by someone who is struggling to just be clothed - but that is really my only option except for cutting them up for rags to use myself. I second Judy - if anyone knows of a fabric recycler, that seems like the only viable option. I know back in the day there used to be such things as 'rag' collections - the rag quality clothing being turned into rags and resold or shredded and used to make cheap fabric for non-clothing uses. I don't even know where to start looking for something like that - and I have bags and bags of such clothing that I am currently cleaning out of my closets.
Lena / September 8, 2008 at 01:06 pm
does anyone know what organizations within Canada actually send used clothing overseas? My mother is cleaning out her closet...many bags of good quailty and clean clothing which would be great for overseas...I have travelled on a few occasions to underdeveloped countries and take one bag with clothing to give away to a community centre who then gives the clothing out to people who really need it...I would love to find a charity in Canada that is able to take some extra boxes on their next overseas project! any ideas?
Andy / April 16, 2009 at 02:33 pm
Ive spent the last hour trying to find an organization to pick up three bags of my used clothes. I've been told by Oasis that my donation isn't large enough for them to pick up. The Salvation Army won't come to my neighborhood for a month and a half. The closest drop box is at least five kilometers away. As i dont have a car I can see no other option than simply throwing the clothes away. Any other suggestions?
Kim replying to a comment from Andy / April 24, 2009 at 06:16 pm
The Canadian Diabetes Association will pick up used clothing and household items from your home. You could try them if you haven't already.
Globally_concerned / April 23, 2010 at 11:42 pm
The real solution to all these problems is to stop over consuming. We really need to critically assess how much we are over consuming and the impact this is having on the world. Not only are we using too much of the earths valuable resources and destroying the environment, but we are also disgustingly exploiting the third world farmers and factory workers who make our clothes and grow our cotton.

That said, I wish there was a more positive alternative for what to do with our used clothing. I myself have a bag of old clothes and am looking to donate to a good home, but i don't want it to be thrown out when there are people all over the world who need clothing on their backs.
Lisa / July 21, 2010 at 03:02 pm
Organizations in the developing world usually ask that clothing not be sent there. The cost to ship it there - which is substantial - can go do more as cash. Send them the shipping money instead
channa / January 4, 2011 at 07:18 am
I am the secretary of the " DAYASRITHA FOUNDATION" in Sri Lanka. This foundation was established by Mr. Dayasritha Tissera,the minister of state resources and enterprise development in Sri Lanka (a developing third world country)with the intention of helping the poor with their basic needs like housing, education and clothing. We have by now helped the needy pupils of the country with their education by giving them books and assistance for preparation for their examinations free of charge.
However, we have not been able to help the poor people with clothing. So if you need to make a donation of used clothes to the needy people, well I can make an arrangement through the foundation. Hope a favourable reply and your generous gesture will help the needy.
beauty.mark / January 7, 2011 at 06:23 pm
Channa, how would I be able to contact you?
anon / May 4, 2011 at 01:37 pm
Canadian Diabetes Association DOES NOT PICK UP around King West area. Any suggestions on which organizations in DT area do pick up?
Kathleen / June 15, 2011 at 10:38 pm
Community Living Ontario will pick up around Trinity Bellwoods, probably King West too. I did have a bad experience where they did not come on the scheduled day and it rained on our donations left outside, but otherwise I've had good experiences.
Diane / June 20, 2011 at 08:41 pm
Does anyone know of a company that accepts non-wearable clothing for recycling? I found a couple of websites I'm the states that, for example turn old denim into housing insulation. I've got a bunch of old jeans with too many holes in them now. It would be a shame if they ended up in the trash.
Could they possibly go in the compost?
Jennie / October 4, 2011 at 03:06 pm
What is sad, is what gets sent to other countries. I was in India a number of years ago and it brought me to tears that what was sent over had holes in the knees and broken zippers! I would see young boys walking around with rope around their waists to hold up jeans that would neither button or zip. I was told they came over like that - It was pathetic and shameful. If it's garbage, throw it away! why donate it?
Cathy / December 8, 2011 at 11:45 am
Over consumption in the Western World for sure! Watch Real Estate shows on TV and see how all the women want walk in closets for their clothes and a second just for shoes. The older homes had small closets or no closets at all. One agent told a customer it was because in those days the closet was for men's suits and women's best dress only. A small closet would have sufficed.
Only donate good quality clothes with no stains, no rips, working zippers and all buttons in place.
Sunita / March 7, 2012 at 03:14 pm
I would also like to donate used clothing in very good condition for poor people in India. If someone has the information about any organization that does that please please please provide it to me. thanks
MINA / July 6, 2012 at 01:11 am


aron / April 7, 2014 at 05:12 pm
If i have clothing that is not suitable for reuse - too old, holes, under garments --- does this become landfill or is there a way to recycle?
khan / December 20, 2014 at 07:08 pm
I have some old used cloth for donation , please send Mississauga, location phone number

khan / December 20, 2014 at 07:10 pm
I like to donate some old cloths, inform me Mississauga location phone number
Norah / March 9, 2015 at 09:45 pm
In the past I have donated my used clothing and other stuff at the thrift stores. A friend of mine has suggested donating at Talize in Brampton. They support the Children's Wish Foundation. A discount coupon of $5 is offered to the donor for every time a donation is made.
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