Clothing that is still in good condition is often sold as second-hand goods.

Clothing donations: These companies collect old clothes

Everyone has clothes in their closet that they no longer like, need, or fit. Nevertheless, many of the clothes remain stuck in the closet, or when they are sorted out, they are thrown away. In both cases, it is often still useable clothing. Clothes that are no longer worn should be sorted out regularly – this creates space in the closet and gives new life to old clothes.

There are many companies or charities who will gladly accept your clothing donations. In addition to usable clothing, depending on the charity, worn-out items can also be handed in there, which are then recycled in a second step and processed into other products. Below you will find an overview of some of the more popular places you can donate clothes to in Europe. There you will find out how the donation works, where you can hand in the clothes and what purpose they will ultimately serve.

Red Cross

The Red Cross is one of the oldest European charities. It was founded in Switzerland over 150 years ago and now operates in all of the European states. They are part of a global voluntary movement and help people affected by conflicts, natural disasters and individual emergencies in the EU and around the world. 90% of all raised funding is spent on delivering care to those in need.

Donating clothes to Red Cross is easy and can have some extra benefits. Depending on your country, you may be able to donate via the post. You can order a donation bag, fill it up, and drop it off at a collection point all free of charge. Some countries offer a reward programme that allows you to collect points towards vouchers to spend in shops. Please contact your local store to find out if this is available in your area. One more benefit to donating to the Red Cross is that in some countries they are able to claim a tax credit against the value of the items that you donate. Ask if this is available in your area and if so, fill in the form when sending in your clothes.

You may think that your clothes are no longer useable because you no longer want to use them, but many clothing charities will be able to recycle and give your clothes a new life. Red Cross, however, does not have the facility to recycle unsellable clothes. They ask that all donated clothes are in sellable and hygienic condition. The better the quality of your items, the more money they can raise from their sale.

Red Cross

Website: www.redcross.eu

NoteIt is best to bring your clothing donation directly to a clothing store or use parcel shipping. Then you can be sure that it will arrive where it is needed.

NoteIt is best to bring your clothing donation directly to a clothing store or use parcel shipping. Then you can be sure that it will arrive where it is needed.

Oxfam International

Oxfam International is an organization dedicated to development cooperation. It has several independent organizations that actively work for people in poverty and famine throughout the world. This movement is not only active in the EU but is also a global enterprise fixed on their mission to end poverty and inequality. Not only is Oxfam one of the widest spread and well-known charities, but it is also one of the oldest having been established in the early ‘40s in the UK, this democratic movement has been committed to fighting hunger around the world. Oxfam operates in every EU country with a wide network of second-hand shops and clothing containers.

There are four ways to donate clothing to Oxfam. First is to drop off items directly at their stores or at partner stores that accept deposits. Please check for opening times as shops will usually only receive items during opening times. The second method is a home collections service. This is not available in all regions or countries, so please check with your local shop for availability and times. The third option is to send your clothing donations by post. Again, this service is not available in all regions, so please check locally. Finally, the fourth option is to attend an event hosted by Oxfam or one of their partners that has a collection facility. To keep up to date about events, contact your local store to receive notifications.


Tattered clothes are turned into cleaning rags or insulation material.

Some final tips: Items that cannot be sold second-hand will be recycled. The clothing can be used as mattress padding or car interiors. Use the Oxfam garment bags or bags of equal size. Make sure the bags and clothes are clean and not torn or damaged.

Oxfam International

Website: www.oxfam.org/en

Salvation Army

The Salvation Army started over 150 years ago as a small charity helping local poor people. It now operates in 130 countries worldwide offering funding for community services such as disaster relief, youth, and family aid along with other domestic and work issues.

The Salvation Army is well known for its thrift stores. You can donate your unwanted clothes directly in the stores and they will resell items that are in a good saleable condition.  The Salvation Army does have the facility to organise worn-out items and textile donations to be recycled, so this might be a good option for items you are not sure about as well as your ‘once loved’ clothes.

Salvation Army

Website: www.salvationarmy.org

Many providers accept clothing donations by mail.

Local Charities/Companies

Each country in the European Union has national charities, government-funded operations, or private companies that make up an ever-increasing network of clothing recycling/reselling operations. While the international organisations mentioned above operate throughout Europe, there may be more convenient ways to donate in your local area. Some examples of the benefits of locally run networks are wide-reaching donation containers that extend into rural areas and villages, and advanced postal donation services that allow boxes over 30kg to be posted free of charge. As noted, these services will vary from country to country, so talk to your local council or charity and see what is on offer.

To find out more about how clothing recycling is growing in Europe, visit the European Clothing Action Plan’s (ECAP) website.

ECAP

Website: www.ecap.eu.com

CheckThe ECAP programme aims to divert over 90,000 tonnes of clothing waste from landfill and incineration. This will reduce the carbon (save 1.6 million tonnes CO2), water (save 588 million m3) and waste footprints of clothing consumed in Europe.

CheckThe ECAP programme aims to divert over 90,000 tonnes of clothing waste from landfill and incineration. This will reduce the carbon (save 1.6 million tonnes CO2), water (save 588 million m3) and waste footprints of clothing consumed in Europe.

Conclusion

Most people have little-used or unused clothes clogging up their closet. If everyone sorted out and donated items, there would be millions of items of clothing that could benefit people in need and humanitarian aid projects.

Therefore, it makes sense to give your clothes a second life and pass them on to a clothing donation company. This protects the environment, does good and supports the vision of a sustainable circular economy.

Image sources:

iStock.com/Radila Radilova

iStock.com/Deagreez

iStock.com/Makidotvn

iStock.com/vuk8691