What you can do with your unwanted clothes

From extending the lifespan of your clothes to sharing your preloved pieces - you don’t have to throw your old clothes away

Sarah Chan

Likes museum trips and is sometimes artsy. Can be found in pattern prints.

Published: 6 January 2021, 6:00 PM

It’s the new year and for some, this might mean the start of the spring cleaning season as you declutter your closet of old pieces and make way for a refreshed wardrobe for the year ahead.

But what can you do with your unwanted clothes after? Most of us might simply bin them or pack them away for donation to the Salvation Army.

While soiled and broken pieces should most definitely go to the bin instead of being passed on to someone else, there are generally more ways than one to deal with your unwanted clothes.

From giving your pieces a second lease of life to passing it on, here are some things you can do the next time you sort through your wardrobe.

1. Do-It-Yourself: Reworking

If you have a knack for arts and craft, a sewing machine and some spare fabric, consider starting a DIY project to rework your old clothes.

Often, we might not want a piece of clothing anymore simply because we have grown tired of its style or because of small imperfections from wear and tear. But that does not necessarily mean the end of life for your clothes and you can still breathe new life into them.

Not only is reworking a fun hobby to pick up, upcycling your clothes is a way of supporting the circular economy – where items are maximised by keeping them in use for as long as possible.

Reworking can be as simple as adding tassels to spice up a plain skirt or it can be as elaborate as transforming a large dress shirt into a matching two-piece set. There are many ways of repurposing and you can even create grocery bags or cleaning rags out of old T-shirts too.

For beginners, you can learn from a variety of tutorials on Youtube and if you are in need of some visual inspiration, Pinterest and Instagram is a great place to start.

2. Textile recycling

Textile recycling rates were a mere four per cent in 2019 amid the 168,000 tonnes of textile and leather waste generated in Singapore.

Rather than sending your clothes directly into the trash, consider participating in textile recycling programmes, where old clothes are recovered and processed for reuse instead of being sent to a landfill.

Organisations like Greensquare provide a free textile recycling programme in Singapore where consumers can either drop-off their clothes at participating outlets or register for their collection service.

The next time you visit your favourite brands, keep a lookout for collection bins and recycling programmes too. In recent years, fashion companies like H&M and Uniqlo have started their own sustainability projects to collect preloved clothes.

Depending on the project, the garments are either recycled or upcycled into new products which helps to reduce the amount of waste generated during the manufacturing process.

Before sending your clothes in, remember to check ahead on the terms and conditions of each recycling programme. Find out the type of clothes, quantity and brand requirements to determine what is accepted for recycling.

3. Donating to thrift stores

Packed away some clothes that are still in good, wearable condition? Donate them to your local thrift stores and charity organisations.

Stores such as New2U, a thrift store by the Singapore Council of Women’s Organisations (SCWO), and MINDS Shop, from the Movement for the Intellectually Disabled of Singapore, are some places where you can donate your preloved clothes to while supporting a good cause.

Although New2U is temporarily not accepting any donations, you can keep an eye out for updates via their Facebook or Instagram pages.


Always ensure that the clothes you intend to donate are in a wearable or functional condition for others too. PHOTO CREDIT: JUNKO NAKASE VIA UNSPLASH


Organisations would usually publish their recommended donation list, so be sure to check with them on accepted items and opening periods for donations before dropping your items off.

4. Swap your closet

Like the saying goes: One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.

The clothes we get rid of might be in the wrong style or size but it could also be in a perfectly wearable condition that would be a pity to dispose of immediately.


You might not have liked that piece of clothing you got but it could be a piece that someone else was looking for. PHOTO CREDIT: SAM LION VIA PEXELS


Having a closet swap might be the thing you need if you find yourself growing tired of your clothes and are in need of a wardrobe refresh while on a budget.

Host a closet swap exchange among friends as a fun get together or participate in local initiatives like Swapaholic and The Fashion Pulpit where you can sign up for a paid membership to start your swapping journey with other fashion lovers too.

Listings looking for clothes swaps or trades can often be found on Carousell. With a bit of time and research, you could facilitate your closet swap on the platform too.

5. Set up your own business

If you are looking to earn some extra cash while clearing out your closet, start your own mini business on Carousell or Instagram.

Secondhand clothes stores on social media are popular among youths and the visual focus of the posts makes it a convenient platform to showcase your pieces.


Feature a variety of fashion styles with your new and preloved clothes – like thrift flips, or reworked thrifted pieces. PHOTO CREDIT: INSTAGRAM/@CHARMAI.THRIFTS


The power of social media also means that you can spread the word easily among your friends to garner some business too.

Experiment with your clothes by reworking them and have fun creating a brand that is uniquely yours. You can consider creating eye catching illustrations or establish an aesthetic theme to spruce up your posts and stand out from the crowd.

There are many ways to be sustainable even for the items that we no longer need. Not only can these alternative solutions give your clothes a second lease of life, but you can also stretch your creativity and have fun in the process.

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