What to do with old underwear?

August 16, 2021

What to do with old underwear?

When the inevitable wardrobe cleanout happens, we know that there are plenty of places to donate the clothes we no longer can or wish to wear. 

If they are in good condition, without stains, marks, or damage, you can drop your selection off to your local charity stores or pop it in donation bins where these garments are given a second chance at life.  They are inspected, sorted, and then dispatched around their stores to be discovered by their new owners, which is great for the environment. 

But the issue we are seeing, however, is much of our unwanted clothing is ending up in landfill.  As published by Dan Stapleton in the Financial Review in January 2021, ‘Each year, the average Australian purchases 27kg of clothing and disposes of 23kg to landfill’. Believe it or not, clothing in landfill can sit there for 200 plus years!

So here are the stats:

  • 85% of the clothes we buy go to landfill each year.
  • 80 billion new items of clothing are consumed globally per year.
  • $100 billion (USD$) in recyclable materials are lost each year to landfill.
  • Less than 1% of material is recycled into new clothing.
  • From the 60 million people globally working in the fashion industry, 80% are women often from poor and rural areas in Asia.
  • 93 million cubic meters of water used to produce textiles each year.
  • Around 20% of industrial water pollution is from textiles.

(Source of Stats - ABS, Ellen Macarthur Foundation, University of Queensland)


Where to dispose of unwanted or old underwear?

Getting rid of your unwanted underwear is probably one of the most common questions we get asked.  Its not like you can gift them to family or friends like that Little Black Dress. Wearing hand-me-down drawers isn’t really something you keep in the family.  So, if they can’t be gifted around, what can you do?

Before throwing your undies that have been in your draws for the past 3 years and the last thread is about to give way, STOP! and see if you can use any of our suggestions below to ensure we don’t contribute further to the horrible stats above.

1. Are they suitable for the compost?

Did you know that 100 percent of cotton underwear can be put into the compost?  Firstly, remove any elastic trims, waist bands or details on the garment. Then you can cut your well-loved garment into squares or strips and pop them in a compost bin. There are also many local community groups who have compost bins available to add to in your area. Just a reminder that you can’t do this with synthetic garments like lycra, but all-natural fabrics like the bamboo fabric we use in our Briefs, Boyleg and G Strings are perfect to compost.

2. Is there a Textile recycling centre in your area?

Many companies accept old textile pieces as recycling. Once cleaned and broken down, these are often repurposed into items such as insulation and boxing bag fills.  Contact your local council and enquire whether textile recycling is available in your postcode.

3. Do you need some new rags?

Growing up, my Mum was the one who repurposed wherever we could and inspired us as kids to do so too. Most of our cleaning rags were made from old sheets, towels, and clothing. Rather than buying a packet of disposable cloths or paper towel, Mum wanted to make sure we saw the benefits of repurposing.  We simply cut of the trims or parts of the item that we could use and created all different size rags.  They are perfect for dusting, cleaning mirrors or to have on hand just in case.  Having a young son, I know that we can never have enough rags around for those ‘just in case moments’ that do happen.  If you know any mechanics, reach out to them, and see if they need the items in their workshop, they’ll be glad you offered.

4. Do you need a new toy for your pet?

This was a great option I found online when doing my research for this article.  People sharing ideas on different forums talking about how they reused old clothing to make pet toys!  One person shared her process on making a new toy for their kitten; they cut an old cotton top and underwear (they had all been washed before they made the toy) into strips around 5 – 10 cm long. They then tied them together, making a firm ball in the centre and had long, loose tassel style pieces hanging around for the kitten to play with.  I know there are many other ideas on Google if you want to get creative.

We hope this list gets you thinking about how you can get creative when it comes to repurposing and recycling your preloved garments and collectively, we can reduce our impact on the planet with our clothing waste in landfill. 

Share your thoughts, tips and tricks you have for repurposing your unwanted clothing via our Instagram page


*Credits for the data presented int his blog are from the Financial Review article “Why we have to stop throwing out our clothes” by Dan F. Stapleton published Jan 9th 2021 (link to full article following) - https://www.afr.com/life-and-luxury/fashion-and-style/why-we-have-to-stop-throwing-out-our-clothes-20201224-p56q1f

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