What Do I Do With My Old Bras?
As you start switching over your summer wardrobe for winter pieces (we know, we know… we can’t believe it either), you’ll probably start the inevitable “I don’t wear this” pile in the corner of your bedroom. Along with some ripped jeans and holey sweaters, you might also be tossing some old bras to the side too— especially if you’re making way for new Knix Lace. But don’t throw those old faithfuls away just yet.
With 85% of all textiles being trashed every year, the United Nations Partnership on Sustainable Fashion also found that nearly 20% of global wastewater is produced by the fashion industry. And on top of that, we keep our clothing items for about half the time as we did 15 years ago. So as we step away from fast fashion in our closets by investing in quality pieces, that leaves us wondering: what can I do with my old bras instead of tossing them? Are there better options? Read on to learn more!
Old, Unworn and Gently Used Bras Can Be Donated
Got a bra in your underwear drawer that doesn’t really fit the bill anymore? Maybe a strapless you were saving for a summer wedding, or a bralette that doesn’t quite give you the support you need? Or maybe you have a few bras still lingering from years past that aren’t the right size for you? Donate them.
Although some thrift stores don’t accept donated bras (check with your local thrift before dropping it off!), there are still a ton of options for clean and gently worn bras.
Help bra wearers in your community by checking if your local women’s shelters or homeless shelters will let you donate your old clothes and used bras. Some programs also have mail in options so you can ship your bras off to those who need them. Here are some options for our North American readers:
Free the Girls: For those of us located in the U.S. or Canada, Free the Girls accepts donations for new and gently worn bras. They use your bra donations to empower previously enslaved and trafficked women to become entrepreneurs and find true freedom all over the world.
The Bra Recyclers: In partnership with companies around the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico, The Bra Recyclers accept gently worn or unworn bras and recycles, reuses or repurposes them, while also providing substantial social benefits to women and girls escaping domestic violence, drug addiction, human trafficking and breast cancer survivors.
I Support the Girls: I Support the Girls collects and distributes essential items, including used bras, underwear, and menstrual hygiene products to women and people experiencing homelessness, impoverishment, or distress.
In-store donations: Stores (like Knix!) often organize bra and clothing drives or trade-ins which are a great opportunity to bring in used bras. You might also check with your local lingerie stores to find out if they take donations. We recently took donations for Dress for Success in Toronto, so give us a call and we can help you out! If you recently ordered a Knix bra that isn't quite the right fit, you can also contact our Customer Support Team to find out how you can help donate!
Try Out Creative Up-Cycling
Come on DIY! Pinterest and YouTube have a few whacky but useful ideas about ways you can up-cycle old bras. For example, a cool bra DIY comes via the Skunkboy blog showing how an old bra can be sewn into a backless dress to give you some support, where you might otherwise go braless.
Other suggestions you’ll find online include everything from purses to shoe inserts. If you’re the crafty type, you can let your imagination run free!
If your old bras have seen better days and aren’t great candidates for donation, you can look into textile recycling. Here’s how you know recycling is the way to go:
- If your bra is super loose or stretched out in the band or straps
- There are underwires popping out
- Molded cups are dented or losing shape
- Fabric is stained, torn or damaged
If this is the case check out these options:
The Bra Recycling Agency: In the U.S., B.R.A. ensures bra materials get recycled rather than end up in a landfill. All proceeds for underwire metal recycling are 100% donated to Breast Cancer Research.
Local Recyclers: Check your neighbourhood for clothing bins that specifically mention recycling (rather than donations for reuse). Many organizations accept worn out clothes for recycling. What happens to these items? They can recycled into industrial rags, turned into insulation, or made into new products!
Compost: Make some room in your food scrap bin! Bras, underwear and clothing made from 100% cotton, wool, silk, linen and hemp can be composted. Note that these items must be 100% made from these materials, so do some digging if you’re not sure. No blends allowed! Also make sure to remove any metal, elastic bands or tags before doing so!
Throw them on stage: If all else fails, bring to your next concert as a gift for the performer.