Consumer priorities are making a massive shift, thanks in large part to the global pandemic and growing awareness of the immediate need for aggressive climate action. Our rampant consumerism is literally ruining our planet. Seeing photos of plastic on beaches and entire trash islands forming in the ocean is deeply troubling, so if you can recycle clothes for money and make a difference, why not?
It’s easy to feel like an individual effort can make an impact in the overwhelming damage we’ve already made to our environment, however, when you consider that only one in five plastic bottles are recycled, every little bit helps.
With the popularity of posting & sharing our beauty empties on social media rising, I hope we can encourage one another to take this trend one step further by recycling those containers at a local resource, such as one of the brands on this list. If you see your favorite influencer sharing their empties, please encourage them to recycle the containers after filming or posting.
The impact of fashion recycling programs is a highly debated topic, due in large part to fast fashion’s massive impact on the environment and how ineffective large-scale textile recycling efforts have been. The fashion and beauty brands included below offer programs designed to make it easy to donate your used or unwanted products. Most companies on this list even offer the ability to recycle clothes for money, but hopefully keeping trash out of landfills is reward enough.
MAC Cosmetics accepts empty or unwanted MAC products at all MAC stores and department store locations in exchange for free products.
In addition, MAC Lover members receive additional Back to MAC benefits at freestanding store locations:
According to the brand’s website, these recycling efforts have reduced the carbon footprint of MAC compacts (excluding California) by 9%, diverting almost 1 million pounds of waste from landfills.
H&M accepts donations of textile items in any condition at their stores worldwide.
When you have dropped off your old textiles in the garment-collecting boxes, at the moment found in H&M, & Other Stories, Weekday and Monki stores, our business partner I:CO* takes over. They collect the boxes, and then sort the contains into three categories:
· Rewear — clothing that can be worn again will be sold as second-hand clothes.
· Reuse — old clothes and textiles will be turned into other products, such as cleaning cloths.
· Recycle — everything else is turned into textile fibers and used for things like insulation.
While the success of clothing recycling programs is up for debate, H&M Group for each kilogram of textiles that H&M collects, 0.02 euros will be donated to a local charity organization.
Madewell has transformed its sustainability and recycling initiatives over the years. In addition to repairing jeans in stores, the brand partnered with ThredUP to create a Madewell Archive, bringing pre-loved denim to select stores across the country.
We’ll turn your old bootcuts into housing insulation for communities in need.
So far, you’ve donated more than 800,000 pairs of jeans to our program, warming more than 1,000 homes (and keeping 415 tons of denim out of the trash).
60% of Madewell’s spring collection was sourced “more sustainably” or using Do Well materials. For more information on the success of Madewell’s initiatives, view its 2020 Do Well Report.
Reformation‘s recycling program, like many brands on this list, has changed substantially since it was first launched. Similar to Madewell, Reformation and ThredUP have established a partnership, though both the benefit to consumers and Reformation lacks specifics.
We’ve partnered with THREDUP to clean out your closet and you’ll earn some well-deserved Ref Credit (win-win!). Let’s give your old clothes a second chance at romance.
Once your bag is processed, you’ll earn Ref shopping credit for items thredUP accepts.
thredUP has high quality standards and accepts an average of 40% from each bag. The rest is reused or responsibly recycled.
That being said, if you’re saving for a specific piece, you could declutter your closet and recycle clothes for money (well, store credit is almost as good as money).
Lush has transitioned 35% of its product line to be entirely packaging free, aka “naked”. In addition, in-store bags are made from post-consumer recycled materials and are recyclable, reusable, or compostable. In addition, the brand incentivizes in-shop recycling of its signature black pots.
Each one of our pots (created just 12 miles away from our Vancouver factory) and bottles are made from BPA-free 100% post-consumer recycled plastic and can be reused, recycled, or returned to a Lush shop for recycling. When you return five clean, empty pots to a shop, you’ll even get a free fresh face mask!
The website outlines more sustainable and recycling initiatives, which you can view here.
2020 Editor’s Update: It appears that Origins has removed any messaging surrounding its recycling program, choosing to instead focus on tree planting, conscious manufacturing, and other green initiatives.
Origins accepts empty containers from any brand at their freestanding and department store locations in North America.
Origins recycles cosmetic empties to help reduce landfill waste. We accept our customer’s containers from any brand, every day. In fact, we created the beauty industries’ first recycling program for cosmetic packaging in 2009.
For more information on Origins recycling program, tree planting program, and the brand’s sustainable efforts, please click here.
The North Face
Unique to other brands on this list, The North Face collects clothing and shoes in concert with Souls4Souls, a non-profit that works to create sustainable jobs & business opportunities for small entrepreneurs.
Recycle your used apparel and footwear (any condition, any brand) at our stores and earn a $10 reward toward your next purchase of $100 or more at The North Face.
In 2016, The North Face expanded the Clothes The Loop program beyond the United States to locations in Germany and Canada.
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