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How to recycle or donate your gently used bras

How to recycle or donate your gently used bras
Posted at 8:30 AM, Mar 15, 2024

It’s always nice to add new items to your wardrobe and bras are no exception. But don’t toss your gently used bras into the trash. Instead, donate or recycle bras that no longer fit or align with your style instead of throwing them away — which can actually benefit other women. Here’s how.

Can You Donate Bras?

Yes! If you have gently used bras that you don’t need or that no longer fit, you can donate them to organizations that will distribute them to others in need. To make an impact on your local community, contact shelters for women or those experiencing homelessness in your city or town to inquire if they’re accepting bra donations.

Some thrift stores such as Goodwill and The Salvation Army accept bras that are brand new or in good condition (though it does seem to vary by location, so be sure to give them a call before dropping off your goods).

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Are Old Bras Recyclable?

Since recycling centers that manage aluminum, plastics and other typical throwaways don’t accept bras, you shouldn’t toss them in your recycling bin. Instead, do an online search for a facility that accepts textiles in your area. You can often find free donation sites through your city or county, or donate via local or nationwide programs that will pick up your textiles for a small fee.

Or better yet, give your undergarments a second life by sending them to a bra-specific organization that will disassemble the bra and transform the materials into other things.

Why You Should Recycle Old Bras?

In addition to helping others, recycling your old bras can help minimize textile waste, a global issue that’s very harmful to the environment. In fact, textile manufacturing — the process of turning fiber into fabric for clothing, accessories, decor and other items — is one of the world’s most polluting industries, ranking alongside fossil fuels and agriculture. Every second, one garbage truck of textiles, which includes undergarments like bras, ends up in the landfill.

Once undergarments make it to the landfill, they can take decades to decompose, depending on what material they’re made from. For example, nylon or polyester, the two most common fabrics used to produce bras, can take between 20 to 200 years to decompose.

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Where Can You Donate Bras?

The following reliable companies and charities ensure bras of all styles, from sports bras and bralettes to strapless bras and T-shirt bras, get into the hands of those who need them or upcycled into other items.

Soma

Soma has collected more than 2 million bras over the past 13 years for organizations like I Support the Girls. The company works with homeless or domestic violence shelters, foster care homes, refugee resettlement agencies and other entities around the world to support females of all ages who need a little extra help with essential items such as bras, underwear and menstrual hygiene products. In exchange for your donation of a new or gently used bra at any Soma boutique, the company will give you $10 off your purchase (limit two $5 coupons per month).

Aerie

Activewear and loungewear company Aerie also partners with I Support the Girls. In 2023, it awarded the nonprofit a $50,000 grant to purchase a vehicle to distribute bras, underwear and period products in communities that need them the most. You can help by bringing your gently used bras to any Aerie store, where you will receive $5 off your next bra purchase in exchange for the donation.

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The Bra Recyclers

Since 2008, The Bra Recyclers— a company dedicated to diverting textiles from landfills and promoting social and environmental change — has collected and donated more than 4 million bras to over 130 nonprofits across the globe. Bring your bras to one of the company’s drop-off centers in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico, and fill out an online recycling form to get a discount at one of its partnering retailers or businesses. Or, there’s also an option to mail your items directly to The Bra Recyclers, but you’ll have to pay for postage.

ThirdLove

This mission-driven bra company, which is dedicated to helping women find undergarments that are attractive and comfortable, has a couple recycling options. For $20, buy a Take Back Bag from ThirdLove to fill with any apparel, linens and accessories you don’t want, including bras and underwear in any condition, and ship it back using the pre-paid mailing label. Once the company receives your bag, you’ll receive $20 in ThirdLove credit toward your next purchase.

Or, bring your used bras to a ThirdLove store and the company will recycle them via TEXAID, a Switzerland-headquartered company that upcycles textiles such as bras into other products (think: stuffing for punching bags). While you won’t receive a discount, knowing you are keeping your old bras out of the landfill is priceless.

Bra Recycling Agency

Bra Recycling Agency (B.R.A.) was founded by former model and fashion entrepreneur Kathleen Kirkwood in 2010. The agency turns the material salvaged from old bras into carpet padding. It also donates the proceeds from the sale of leftover metal underwire to breast cancer research. You can recycle one bra for free or pay $15 to recycle an unlimited number of bras in one year (the cost of postage to send them in isn’t included). That price will also grant you a free membership to the B.R.A. Club, which will get you discounts and promos from partnering sponsors when available.


How to recycle or donate your gently used bras originally appeared on Simplemost.com