How to donate your old clothes to recycling organizations this festive season


Do you have too many clothes that you don’t wear? Give them a second life this festive season by sending them to upcycling organizations

Do you have too many clothes that you don’t wear? Give them a second life this festive season by sending them to upcycling organizations

Did you know that each year, more than a million tons of textiles, the majority of which come from households, are thrown away in India? So, as you begin to prepare for the holiday season and dive deep into cleaning out your wardrobe to make room for new clothes, it might be time to take a sustainable approach this year. And we’re here to help. Below are organizations across the country that accept fabric and clothing donations and recycle them to create everything from toys and pet beds to paperweights and jewelry.

Craftsmen at Clothes Box Foundation

artisans at Clothes Box Foundation | Photo credit: special arrangement

Clothing Box Foundation, Gurgaon

This year, the organization is not only running multiple collection programs with brands such as American Eagle, but is also focusing on selling their recycled products. With the exception of loungewear, they accept used clothing from laypersons and surplus industrial fabrics from the textile industry. “It can be any material and we accept all sizes,” explains Sajan Veerr Abrol, founder and managing director. Once the clothes reach them, they are sorted into “suitable for distribution” and “recyclable” categories. “The ratio is around 70:30. Those in good condition are donated to the underprivileged, while those that are worn and torn are directed to our in-house recycling center, Refresh,” adds Sajan. The organization employs marginalized women to recycle these discarded clothes into blankets, bags, pet beds, cushions, potlis, laptop bags, etc., and also trains them in industrial sewing.

Collection details: For drop offs at their Gurugram Center (Monday to Friday, 10am to 5pm), WhatsApp 7838371356. Third Party Vendor Home Pickup is available India-wide at

Wasted collection facility

The collection facility at Wasted | Photo credit: special arrangement

Wasted, Chennai and Bangalore

All types of fabric waste, including clothes that are no longer needed, sewing scraps, torn or stained clothes, sheets, curtains, etc. are accepted here. “We even accept socks and underwear in any condition as they are packaged separately from other fabrics,” says founder Ann Anra, adding, “We always encourage people to donate clothes in their own circles or to the needy. If they are unable to do so, they are welcome to drop it off with us.

With a number of collections planned for the festive season, Wasted also has a main drop-off center in T Nagar and branches in Palavakkam, Kotturpuram and Kottivakkam. Depending on the condition and type of clothes, they are either donated (to NGOs like Karunai Ullangal and Arpanam Trust), sold at a nominal price to communities who cannot afford clothes, and sold at discounted prices to people who care about the environment. Torn and stained fabrics are sent for recycling/downcycling.

Wasted's thrift store

Wasted Thrift Store | Photo credit: special arrangement

“Some fabrics are donated to local businesses who turn them into utilitarian items, and other sunk fabrics are sent to informal/formal waste aggregators, and recycled into mop heads, doormats, and pillow/mattress padding,” explains Ann, adding that as a policy, the team does not resell baby and children’s clothing. “We also help women generate income by giving them free shares that they can sell within their communities,” she concludes.

Collection details: Call 9751755522 for Chennai and 9376776795 for Bangalore

Oh Scrap!, Chennai

Founded by Priyanjoli Basu and Dominique Lopez, Oh Scrap! recycles fabric scraps from garment exporters and sewing units to make everything from wine racks and garlands to hair accessories and toys. “We take fabric, linens, sarees, dupattas and denim – they can be used, torn or stained. But we don’t accept winter clothes, underwear, swimsuits, socks, shoes and bags,” explains Dominique.

An Oh Scrap!  Madras

An Oh Scrap! madras | Photo credit: special arrangement

Once turned in to the team, the items are either donated to a local NGO or recycled, upcycled or possibly spared. “We segregate them based on their condition, wash them, then redistribute them to our partners for donation/recycling), or use them for our own thrift store, recycling proposition,” she says, adding that two-thirds of their sewing team are made up of women, and all tailors work from home.

Collection details: Email [email protected] or call 8925519960

MITU, Bangalore

At MITU, unsewn products such as sarees, dhotis, dupattas and curtains are converted into bags with minimal waste. “Various types of bags ranging from gift bags/tambula to clutches and tote bags are made by a team of tailors, mostly women working in our office as well as from their homes,” says founder Kala Charlu.

Fabric toys at MITU

Fabric Toys at MITU | Photo credit: special arrangement

Collection details: Donations can be dropped off at their office in Malleswaram. If the quantity is sufficient, a collection can be organized from donors within a radius of three kilometers. Call 7847086668, 9740031720.

Small, Kerala

When Deepa Pradeep – who runs a Facebook page, Small, to retail her handcrafted home decor products – was approached by customers to make something out of fabric they didn’t want to throw away, his recycling initiative was born. “We recycle linens, sarees and denim, brought in by our customers or our waste/surplus fabric from tailoring to make curtains, shopping or shoulder bags, cushion covers, table runners, coasters. -glasses, wall hangings, fabric jewelry, diaries, etc.,” says Deepa.

Collection details: Due to space constraints, Deepa does not accept bulk shipments, but you can contact Small for custom and personalized recycled products. SMALL on Facebook.

A wall hanging by Deepa Pradeep

A wall hanging by Deepa Pradeep | Photo credit: special arrangement

Tourbillon, Calcutta

You can donate anything made of fabric (clothes, sheets, curtains) as long as it is not torn or completely discolored. “All material is separated, cleaned, treated and then recycled as needed,” explains founder Sujata Chatterjee, adding that Twirl is an all-female team, with the entire process being carried out by women from rural backgrounds. The women make bags, aprons, dog toys, fabric paperweights, cushions, desk organizers, among other accessories. “We also design personalized products for organizations and corporate gifts,” adds Sujata, who distributes 40% of their donations to rural communities in villages and slums far from the city.

Collection details: Door-to-door pickups can be arranged in Kolkata and drop-off points are also available at several locations. Donations are also accepted from other cities. For more details WhatsApp 9007428062.

A creation of Twirl

A creation of Twirl | Photo credit: special arrangement

Rimagined, Bangalore

Known for their work with innovative materials such as inner tubes, wood and glass, Rimagined also transforms scrap fabric into utilitarian products. Founder Shailaja Rangarajan says the organization collects garments, cotton and synthetic sarees, sewn clothing surplus fabric, linens, cotton curtains and denim.

Storage baskets made at Rimagined

Storage Baskets Made at Rimagined | Photo credit: special arrangement

“Once the fabric waste reaches us, it goes through a sorting tower. We assess the condition of the fabric, and if it’s too faded or stained, we usually can’t recycle it, so it’s taken to dry waste centers. The fabric we can use goes through a thorough wash cycle and then is recycled,” she says, adding that products made include fabric rope baskets, trays, custom quilts, bags and pouches. If the team receives clothes in good condition, they donate them rather than going the upcycling route.

Collection details: If you are located in Bangalore, you can send your fabrics to their local center. For other cities, you can route it to their main center in Kolkata. For more details call 9741977556


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