9 Retailers Who Make it Easy & Rewarding to Recycle Your Clothes & Shoes

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It’s both a blessing and a curse that as editor I get to review most of the posts, and as a newbie on The Mom Edit team, I’m also doing my fair share of studying all things TME. So, Saturday morning, while doing a little of both with the Memorial Day Sales posts—an exercise that led to a phone call notifying me that my credit card had been locked (thanks for the great picks, Friends!)—I discovered an extra perk after buying this sweet Tiered Halter Dress from Loft (on sale at the time for 40% off).

I was super surprised—and delighted—after I made my purchase, when LOFT offered to send me a shipping label, so that I could reuse my box to mail any used clothing I needed to get rid of to a charity—super slick, LOFT!— And thank you. Could they have made it any easier? I said yes, entered my address or my zip code (can’t remember exactly which), and voila, a shipping label to print popped up on my screen. BOOM! I’ll have a box when my dress arrives, I’ll have a label already printed, and I’ll make darn sure I have some gently used items to send to the Goodwill in East Vestal, New York (apparently).

I had known about H&M’s garment collection program, and about Madewell’s denim recycling program, but not about this super-simple LOFT perk. Therefore, we decided to do a smidgen of digging, and let our readers know which retailers make it really easy to transform your couture into charity, and prevent unnecessary waste.

So, if you’ve been holding on to your throwaways from spring cleaning, a #konmari session, or because you had to make room for your Memorial Day Sales purchases, we hope you’ll refer to the guide below for tangible rewards and to avoid adding more waste to our landfills.


1. ANN INC.

The Brands: Ann Taylor, LOFT or Lou & Grey

The Dish: ANN INC., has partnered with Goodwill to provide clothing and household accessories recycling for free using the Give Back Box. When you make an online purchase, you’ll be prompted to print a free donation shipping label, or you can go to the website and request one.

The Good: Goodwill receives your donation, sorts and sells the products, and then uses the funds for community-based services such as job training and placement.

The Official Info: Responsibly Ann Give Back Box

It’s Always Easy to Find My Loves from LOFT


2. J. Crew

The Brands: Madewell, J. Crew

The Dish: For awhile now, you’ve been able to walk into Madewell or J. Crew with a pile of jeans, and receive a $20 coupon for denim in-store. However, “for a limited time”, you’ll also receive a postage-paid mailer with every purchase ordered through madewell.com, into which you can insert your jeans. So take your old denim to Madewell or J. Crew (or mail it in, if available), and you’ll receive $20 towards your next pair of jeans or other denim item. This offer is good at Madewell in-store only, and at J. Crew both in-store and at jcrew.com.

The Good: BLUE JEANS GO GREEN, a division of Cotton Incorporated, removes the hardware, and turns the denim into housing insulation. WIN + WIN.

The Official Info: BLUE JEANS GO GREEN

The Denim I’d Buy with my Coupon from Madewell

Pieces I’d Love to Use My $20 Toward at J. Crew


3. The North Face

The Brands: The North Face, Renewed

The Dish: Drop off unwanted clothes and shoes (any brand, in any condition) to a The North Face store or outlet, and receive $10 toward your next purchase of $100 or more at The North Face retail and outlet stores.*

The Good: The North Face partners with Soles4Souls, a nonprofit that provides disaster relief and micro-enterprise programs, and creates sustainable jobs through the distribution of shoes and clothing. *The North Face now also has a line of refurbished clothing called Renewed, featuring repaired products from returned, damaged, or defective clothing at their distribution center. Find out more here.

The Official Info: The North Face Clothes the Loop

How I’d Spend my The North Face $10

*Since the $10 from The North Face goes only toward items of $100 or more (and I’m practical), I’m looking toward higher-priced items we’ll need in fall and winter.


4. Levi Strauss & Co.

The Brands: Levi’s®, Dockers®

The Dish: In-Store: Drop off unwanted clothes or shoes (any brand), and receive a voucher for 20 percent off a single, regular-priced Levi’s® item. Levi’s® partners with I:Collect (I:CO), a solutions provider for reuse and recycling of apparel, textiles, and shoes.  From home: Fill a box with clean, dry clothing or shoes, and affix a shipping label from levi.com/goodwill or dockers.com/goodwill, then ship (for free) to the nearest Goodwill location. Levi’s will also donate $5 to Goodwill for every box shipped (it’s unclear from the website whether you receive a reward (other than the intrinsic reward of being generous) for your mailed donations).

The Good: I:CO resells wearable items, and reuses, recycles, or upcycles the products. Goodwill receives your donation, sorts and sells the products, and then uses the funds for community-based services such as job training and placement.

The Official Info: Levi Strauss & Co.: Recycling & Reuse

Since Levi’s has such great items for kids, I’m going double-duty on what I’d buy with my 20%-off coupon.

Best Picks for Me and the Kid from Levi’s


5. EILEEN FISHER

The Brands: EILEEN FISHER, RENEW

The Dish: Bring your unwanted EILEEN FISHER clothes to any EILEEN FISHER or RENEW store, receive a $5 reward card for each item.

The Good: EILEEN FISHER either finds them a new home, or turns them into new designs.

The Official Info: EILEEN FISHER: RENEW

Great Pieces to Spend Your Voucher On at EF*

I went for timeless and on sale with these choices.

*It’s worth a note that Eileen Fisher has some awesome pieces in the Renew store, where recycled Eileen Fisher garments are sold for their second life. However, since each piece is unique, and therefore only one is available, I won’t show you those here; it’s definitely worth your time to check it out though.


6. American Eagle Outfitters

The Dish: Drop off worn-out clothes or shoes to any American Eagle, and you’ll get rewarded with a text code for $5 off a new pair of AEO jeans.

The Good: American Eagle partners with I:CO, who resells wearable items, and reuses, renews, regenerates or upcycles the remaining products. Any proceeds from the program are donated to the Student Conservation Association, empowering new generations of environmental leaders.

The Official Info: American Eagle Outfitters Teams Up with I:CO

The Denim I Have My Eye on at American Eagle


7. H&M

The Dish: Drop your bag of unwanted clothes off (any brand, any condition) to an H&M store. The textiles are sent to a recycling plant where they are sorted by hand. You, the consumer receive a 15% off voucher to use in-store.

The Good: Clothing that is in wearable condition is resold secondhand worldwide. Worn-out textiles are remade into renewed collections or other cloths. Apparel that cannot be used in either of the former two processes is recycled into auto insulation and/or for apparel sustainability research.

The Official Info: H&M Garment Collecting

What We’re Using Our Reward for Today at H&M*

*When we go to H&M, our purchases are usually three-to-one, Goose to me.

H&M is one of the places where we take items that can’t be donated for wear, since the pieces don’t go to charity, but do stay out of the landfill. We have a huge bag of shoes and boots for The North Face, where Soles4Souls will make good of them.

Goose is wearing the AQUA Girls’ Ruffled Rain Jacket, Big Kid, a pick from Best of Memorial Day: KIDS (now on sale for 30% off).


Not as Easy, but More Sustainable

8. Reformation

We’re giving an Honorable Mention here to Reformation for a number of reasons. First of all, there is some evidence on the Interwebs that they have a consumer-recycling program, but I didn’t find a lot of recent (post-2015) information about said program—therefore, the brand doesn’t fit into the category of making it easy for you to recycle. There is this 2015 video, as well as a recent FASHIONISTA article highlighting Reformation’s 2018 recycle and reuse initiatives, but those are the only specific, easy-to-find deets for consumer recycling we have. However, Reformation is all about sustainability, and they clearly speak to that on every page of their website. They are transparent about the entire fashion cycle, as well as how they treat their employees. Reformation is coming to select Nordstrom stores and Nordstrom online, so it’ll be great to have another option for buying clothes where preventing waste is part of the production process.

My Favorites at Reformation Right Now


9. Patagonia

Patagonia also makes our list under Honorable Mentions because it’s not as simple to recycle your gear with them (at least, in terms of clearly outlined steps we can find online), but like Reformation, their protocols for long-term sustainability are noteworthy. They focus on reusing, repairing, and reselling used goods, and when all else fails, recycling. Their secondhand program is called Worn Wear and includes some mix of the following: Buy used on Wornwear.com, trade used items in at a Patagonia store, get paid in Worn Wear, repair and care what you own, then recycle once beyond repair. There are also Worn Wear events.

What You’ll Find in Secondhand Patagonia


It’s worth taking a moment to point out that recycling our old garments doesn’t negate the environmental impact we have by using our vouchers and buying new apparel—we’re not making that argument. However, we think featuring companies who are taking steps in the right direction—keeping textiles out of landfills, and either reusing or upcycling them, and/or investing in community programs such as Goodwill and Soles4Souls — is a worthy endeavor.

H&M and The North Face are 2 of the retailers who will accept textiles from any brand, in any condition. Madewell and J. Crew only take denim, while EILEEN FISHER only accepts EF items.

The easier and more enticing producers make it for people to trade in their goods, the more educated and conscientious of our choices we may become. Ideally, society will find more sustainable methods for producing the goods humans desire, and said humans will more often strive for less (or zero) waste. But we’re not there yet. Baby steps, Friends. Until then, we’ll continue to keep things fashionable, and when we’re able, highlight the individuals and companies leading the way.

Learn more:

Changing the world through fashion: Eva Kruse at TEDxCopenhagen

How good is H&M’s clothing recycling program? PRI’s The World

xo,

Alexis

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About Author

Alexis is our resident nerd and watchful editor. In addition to styling our syntax and fact-checking brand capitalization (ahem, rag & bone, and [BLANKNYC]), she’s also whipping up editorial guidelines, strategizing social media and conjuring up new projects. With her own personal style (boots, dresses, scarves), she doesn’t consider herself a fashionista, but she is keeping us #well #woke #sustainable #empathetic #inclusive #current, #down-to-earth and #open-minded; her wisdom ranges from yoga home practice and Feng Shui-ing an apartment, to living overseas and momming while black. As the single mother of an extrovert, she, like Julieta, often ‘forgets’ to come out of the bathroom.

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13 Comments

  1. Excellent post, thank you! Have y’all considered adding a crafty/upcycle type person to your group? Example: I just found a Mossimo striped maxi dress at the thrift store for $7 and, because it’s knit, was able to chop it off in a little high-low action without hemming. Perfect for summer. My closet is a mix of quality pieces and thrift finds. I’m sure there are others out there who are the same.

  2. What about Nordstrom??? Aren’t they doing something similar? My local store has a clothing donation or recycling bin in the entry.

  3. Alexis L. Richardson on

    You’re welcome! We’re happy to highlight some useful, step-by-step actions for our readers!

  4. Alexis L. Richardson on

    Hi, Alice! We’d love to add ideas like this. We’re also hoping to expand the ways in which readers contribute. If you have a specific idea you’d like to pitch to us, please send it in: gwen@themomedit. We may also be looking at ways to incorporate reader photos/galleries/slideshows in the future, so that may be a way to highlight this. xo

  5. Alexis L. Richardson on

    Hi, Jennifer! I did see the Nordstrom logo under one of the programs (maybe Give Back Box?), however, when I searched, I didn’t find anything on their website or in other related articles. So, since our goal was to give our readers clear, actionable steps, I didn’t include them because the information wasn’t easy to find. In the future, if we find details we can work into a similar topic or post, we’ll be sure to highlight it. Thanks for bringing this to our attention. xo

  6. just called my local American Eagle Outfitters. They have a promotion where you can bring in an old bra for donation and receive a discount on a new one, but are not accepting other clothing.

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