Up-cycle or Recycle: What do you do with your old clothes?

There really is something magical about warm sunny days that seems to change your entire psyche – the floral dresses come out, nails done in bright colours and you feel like you can conquer the world! And the rather unusually warm last days of February did just that for me. For some mysterious reason, the warm weather tends to turn me into spring cleaning mode and those few warm days quickly brought on the spring cleaning fever – everything turned upside down, dusted, hoovered and scrubbed…even though my efforts don’t last long with a 10 year old running around. So slightly carried away, I decided now is a good time to start moving my winter clothes to the back of the wardrobe and dusting out the maxi, sun, tea dresses and jackets from the back of the wardrobe. My wardrobe is literally bursting at the seams as it has a lot of clothes in there! And that was not the worst part – some items have never been worn and still have price tags on them.

Do you ever buy beautiful things and think hmm I don’t know where I will wear that but I might as well get it now so I am ready in case something comes up next week, next month, in the future? And then nothing ever comes or if it does, you suddenly realise the style is not suitable and you can’t return a dress that has been in your wardrobe for 8 months. Guilty as charged. This habit means I have accumulated so much clothing over the years and it is a problem I need to fix asap. Although there are lovely clothes and styles, and I did find some gems to up-cycle for the summer, I now feel like I have outgrown most of the styles.

So I was sitting on my bed looking at the piles of clothes everywhere thinking about what to do with these excess clothes taking up space in my wardrobe? I could put them in one of those charity bags that come through my letter box but am not exactly sure where these clothes end up. As someone who champions ethical fashion and raising awareness on the impact throw away fashion has on our environment, I am very conscious of where my old clothes will end up.

The last thing I want to do is contribute to the tonnes of fabric waste at the land fill polluting our environment. Unwanted clothing is contributing towards the 300,000 tonnes of textiles going to landfill in the UK every year; the equivalent of 50 trucks’ worth of clothing per day (read our blog post here). There are two organisations that came to mind – ReGain App and Smart Works. The ReGAIN app rewards you by turning your old clothes into discount codes and Smart Works is a UK charity that provides high quality interview clothes and interview training to unemployed women in need. ReGAIN sends you a pre paid postage label for you to send them a minimum of 10 items in your bag/box and drop off the box of clothes at the nearest pick up point; these are usually the post office or a local DPD drop off/pick up point. The items ReGAIN receives are then recycled or reused and you receive a discount code to use with any of the retailers they work with including Eve mattress, Made.com and The Body Shop.

Smart Works receives high quality clothes that are then given to unemployed women who are looking to get back into work. The organisation has a two hour dressing and coaching service for unemployed women with confirmed job interviews. Each client has a personalised styling session with two Smart Works volunteer stylists, receiving a complete outfit of high quality clothes and accessories for their specific job interview, which are free and hers to keep.

Honestly, there is no better way to clean out your wardrobe than knowing your old clothes, both worn and unworn can still be recycled or up-cycled, and kept away from the landfill.

For more information on the organisations mentioned, please visit

ReGAIN App here

Smart Works here

Full disclaimer:

Brooks & Sharpe is currently a partner with ReGAIN App, however, we have no affiliation with Smart Works.


Blog post by Pam

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