Closet and dresser cleanouts can be a cathartic experience. Getting rid of clothes that no longer fit or are no longer your style is a great way to whittle down your wardrobe to include only the pieces you love and really wear. 

Taking tops and pants to a donation site or clothing drive is a fairly common practice, but women are often left with the question: what do I do with old bras? Whether you’ve outgrown them or they never quite fit right, donating these frees up space in your drawers to find a bra that fits you perfectly

Luckily, there are many ways to reuse, recycle or donate bras instead of tossing them in the garbage. We share a few of those tips below:

 

1. Donate 

You may have thought that donation sites only take brand new bras, but gently worn bras are also accepted at many clothing donation organizations. Organizations like I Support the Girls accept new and slightly used bras for people experiencing homelessness across the world. 

Free the Girls is another great organization to donate gently used bras to. The organization helps women who have been rescued from sex trafficking to achieve financial freedom by offering them the opportunity to sell slightly used bras to their communities.

There are also many local donation organizations to look into in your area, like Goodwill or the Salvation Army. However, whether Goodwill takes bras and other underwear depends on the need of your local Goodwill. It’s a good idea to call your local Goodwill to ask whether they take bras before bringing them in – otherwise, they may be tossed. 

Related:   The Toddler Recycling Project

You could also try calling local schools or women’s shelters to see if they have a need for gently worn bras. 

 

2. Recycle

Far too many textiles end up in landfills. In fact, the EPA found that textiles accounted for over 5.8% of all municipal solid waste (MSW) in 2018, totaling more than glass. 

To help keep your used bras from contributing to that statistic, try mailing your old bras to an organization like The Bra Recyclers, which is a clothing recycling company dedicated to extending the lifespan of clothing items (such as bras) and cutting down on textile waste. No matter the condition of your bra, the organization will find a use for it. 

 

3. Reuse

Lastly, if your bra isn’t in a condition to be donated you can try a few different methods. Upcycling clothing is a common practice where you can take a bra and turn it into something new. A few ideas include:

  • Use the padding for extra shoe support
  • Repurpose your old bra into a new purse (Try this DIY tutorial)
  • Sew the padding of your old bras into a backless dress or top to give you extra support 

If your bras are made of natural fibers such as cotton, silk and wool, they can be composted. You’ll just want to remove any elastic and anything else that won’t biodegrade (including tags and any plastic) with scissors.

Next, cut the rest of the bra into small pieces so that it can compost more easily before putting the pieces into a compost bin or distributing them in soil. Easy peasy. 

Related:   WATCH: Greenpeace — Following The E-Waste Trail

When you’re doing your next Marie Kondo sweep of your wardrobe, be sure to keep these tips in mind. And for additional tips, our friends at Tommy John have created a helpful infographic on how to use your old bras for good, including a donation checklist to ensure your bras are ready to go to a new home.

What to Do With Old Bras

Greener Ideal strives to help you live your life in more sustainable ways with green living tips, healthy recipes and commentary on the latest environment news. The views expressed by guest authors are their own and may not reflect those of Greener Ideal.

3 COMMENTS

  1. Thank you for writing an article on sustainability and bra, we are passionate about this subject. One point I would like to make is that I have not found any bras that are compostable. The majority of the bras need spandex to fit better, and most of the spadex yarns are not degradable. Also, conventional bras have 36+ components in each bra, so it is very labor-intensive for any company to create a recycling program, therefore most of the bras go into landfills and take 20-100 years to decompose.

    We are &Her, building a cotton-based bra with degradable spandex. We have been researching this space for a while because we hate to see bras in the landfill. Most of the bras made today are not recyclable and non-degradable, we hope to bring an alternative. Check out our ingredients and how we make our bras http://www.andher.us

  2. Hello, this is Elaine from The Bra Recyclers. Thank you for writing this article and helping encourage extending the life of a bra. We also support over 120 nonprofits around the world. It is always amazing to hear how important something as simple as a bra is to women or girls in need. We are so excited when we see articles helping us promote our BRAVOLUTION to help recycle or reuse bras. Thank you!

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