How to Recycle your Clothes, Shoes, Electronics, and More


We have so much stuff. Clothes that don’t fit (either our bodies or the current fashion) any more. Cell phones that don’t work any more. Batteries that won’t charge any more. Shoes that have holes in them. The list goes on.

We don’t want to throw this old stuff away; some of it might even still be good – just not to us. Other items are too harmful to the environment to chuck in the waste bin. We would like to reuse some of it, but cannot figure out how it can reasonably be used (I mean, truly – what do you do with an old smelly running shoe).

The solution? Find other people who can use what you don’t need any more. By giving it away, you can breathe new life into your old stuff.

Here are some places you can donate those hard-to-dispose-of things you probably have lying around:


Gently used shoes can go to Soles 4 Souls, where they are given to victims of disaster, such as the Asian Tsunami and Hurricane Katrina.

Nike has a “reuse-a-shoe” program which accepts not only Nike but all brands of athletic shoes which are recycled into sports surfaces. Visit to locate the nearest drop-off location.

And used Crocs are perfect for playground padding. Mail them to

1510 Nelson Road, Longmont CO, 80501
, and make sure the outside of your box is clearly marked “recycle”.

SolesUnited is affiliated with Crocs and is another place to reputedly recycle your crocs (they recycle the material to make new ones for those who don’t have shoes), however when I visited their website, they currently seemed only to want pledges of money.


Gazelle is one of the more popular buyback sites for used electronics.

USell accepts mobile phones, tablets, computers, and more.

E-cycling Central is a great resource for recycling programs across the States.

Hewlett-Packard will accept trade-ins on any brand of electronics, and Apple accepts trade-ins of phones and offers free recycling of any computer and monitor with the purchase of a new one.

Whole Foods Market will take your non-recyclable batteries.

Verizon Wireless collects cell phones and equipment (from any service provider, not just Verizon) for the HopeLine project, which uses them as support for victims of domestic abuse.

Women's Clothing

Send your suits to Dress For Success, which helps disadvantaged women suit up for job interviews, giving them a chance at a better life.

Old prom dresses can be donated to either the Princess Project for the Bay Area or The Glass Slipper Project for the Chicago area, so a girl who can’t afford a dress can still be the belle of the ball.

And if you aren’t too attached to your bridal gown, give it to the Brides Against Breast Cancer Foundation. Here it will be auctioned off, with the proceeds helping breast cancer survivors and patients.

For old maternity clothing, call around to local young parent and teen parent organizations and see who is accepting donations.

Men's Clothing

Although I was disappointed not to find as many opportunities to donate men’s clothing (a Dress For Success type of program for men would be nice), we need not forget about Goodwill and the Salvation Army for this and any other clothing that doesn’t fit into the above specialty categories.

You may also want to look locally for opportunities to recycle your old duds and help at the same time. Clothing drives held by various community groups and local businesses are always around to be discovered.

Everything Else

The Internet Consumer Recycling Guidecontains many more resources for where to recycle something you probably have in your house but don’t know what to do with.

Disclaimer: The links and mentions on this site may be affiliate links. But they do not affect the actual opinions and recommendations of the authors.

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Guest's picture

You can also donate prom dresses to Becca's Closet ( There are chapters throughout the United States. They collect prom dresses, shoes, accessories, and sometimes suits for young men (depending on the chapter).

Fred Lee's picture

There are always local organizations that will often take clothes and make them available to members of your community, especially if you live in a small town. Check churches and libraries for more information.

Guest's picture

I've used a site called Gazelle to recycle my electronics. When the items were worth something Gazelle offered me some money and the offers seemed fair.

When the items weren't worth anything, Gazelle still sent me a postage paid label to send them my stuff so they could recycle it.

It's worth a shot if you have an old iPod, laptop, etc. you are looking to get rid of. Just make sure you wipe it clean of any personal data.

Guest's picture

Don't forget to photo document donations or at least make a list of what you donate. If you itemize your tax deductions you'll be surprised how much you can deduct for charitable contributions.

Donating to a charity is a win-win.

Guest's picture

Goodwill is wonderful about accepting donations. Also if your community has 4-H they will sometimes accept clothing for the sewing club to use for fabric.

Guest's picture

Enjoyed this post. Thought you might want to check out FreeCycle for your list. I've been using this group lately and it is amazing the amount of stuff exchanging hands. Local community driven and always free.

Guest's picture

I'd like to second this suggestion. I've been using them for years, both giving and receiving. It's easy and fast, with lots of local groups. People can literally be at my door within the hour to pick up my stuff, a really good way to help your neighbors.

Guest's picture

Freecycle is great!

If you have non-working electronics, there are a few other sites reviewed here: Gazelle, VenJuvo, and MyBoneYard. Kijiji and Earth911 are also helpful resources to find things or donate/recycle locally.

Guest's picture

how do you recycle stuff that's not useable anymore? for example, old t-shirts/pajama pants with holes in them, 15-year old cel phones that don't work anymore, broken electronics, etc.

Nora Dunn's picture
Nora Dunn

@athena - Great question! Sometimes you can reuse things that aren't recyclable with a little creativity (check the link for ideas).

Personally, old tattered clothing is perfect to tear up and use for: cleaning rags, stuffing holes, padding for small animal bedding and cages, or even donating to your local animal shelter for animal swags and bedding.

As for cell phones and broken electronics, some of the places mentioned in this article may still accept them if they can easily repair the item. Other places will accept old/broken electronics for recycling purposes (as opposed to reusing them).

Thanks for the question!

Guest's picture

The Princess Project also includes San Diego!

Guest's picture

It's a good idea to recycle old shoes, clothes, etc... But the number of recycling programmes is less that the number of stuff around us. Unfortunately...

Guest's picture

I agree with Dave, recycling your electronics with gazelle is a great option.

Nora Dunn's picture
Nora Dunn

@James - Thanks for the second of Dave's recommendation. I'll try Gazelle the next time I have something to recycle!

Guest's picture

Recycling is a great way to get rid of your stuff.

Guest's picture
Joanna Taylor

Does anyone know of any company purchases used clothing?
Our firehouse has had clothing drives in the past, but our purchasing source is no longer available.
Any information would be greatly appreciated.

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Guest's picture

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Guest's picture

Hey, it's not (although it will still get there!)

Try or We work with thousands of local retailers to act as our local drop off spots too!