Sustainably Parting with your Unwanted Clothes


Clothing is something essential to our everyday lives. We use it as a form of self-expression to influence the way that we see ourselves and each other. How do you determine if the person the television is an Olympic athlete or a medical doctor? In short, while humans make clothing, clothing makes us. There are many ways to make your fashion habits sustainable, but I want to focus on what to do when you find yourself making extra room in your closet.

When you find clothes that are not your style anymore, there are many ways for you to give them a new purpose. Some businesses specialize in making “t-shirt quilts”—blankets make out of old screen printed t-shirts. These quilts allow you to still have the sentimentality of tshirts from sports games, Greek life events, and extracurricular activities without needing to wear the shirt. Additionally, the University of Rochester Grassroots Organization has a clothing exchange program that welcomes students to donate any unwanted clothes. These donated items are then hung up on display at their clothing exchange and students can have them for free. There are also many stores, such as Plato’s Closet, that will buy your gently-used, name brand clothing. Donating your clothes to charity organizations, such as Goodwill, can help ensure that your unwanted items are put to good use.

Don’t throw away your old clothes! The EPA estimates that only about 15 percent of textiles are recovered annually in the United States. While the number much smaller than it could be, that 15 percent does a lot in terms of reducing carbon emissions—its comparable to “taking over a million cars off the road”. Imagine what would happen if everyone threw away even less clothing than we do now!


Written by Michaela Burrell, Class of 2020

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