How to Donate and Recycle Old Bras, Lingerie, and Swimsuits

Something frustrating happened to me last weekend, and I want to share. I had my husband take a huge load of stuff to Goodwill to donate and in one of the bags I’d tucked a bra that didn’t fit me anymore but I’d never worn. Surely someone would see it was in good condition and, if not sell it, would donate it to a woman’s shelter or somewhere else that needed practical things like undergarments, right?

Nope. Contrary to reports I’ve read online, Goodwill politely told him it doesn’t accept bras in any condition and it’d be tossed. I was surprised, frustrated, and sad imagining my perfectly useable bra in the trash when it could be with someone who needed it. Then, readers, I got to researching.

true-co-bras

Turns out, there are plenty of places that totally want your old underpinnings.

You can recycle your bra.
Whether that means getting your new or lightly worn bra on someone who needs it or actually having the fibers turned into something else, this totally exists. The Bra Recyclers is a company I found online, and the numbers it reports kind of blow your mind: 95 percent of the textiles we toss can be recycled, with 45 percent of that amount being donated and worn by someone in need. Find out more info here, including physical drop-off locations and the mailing address for donations.

You can donate your bra (and swimsuit and lingerie).
Bras for a Cause supports breast cancer survivors and takes all manners of underpinnings, including sexy lingerie, bikinis, slips, and shapewear pieces. From the collection center, everything is shared with shelters and charities. Those broken and unable to be fixed can be turned into art that’s sold to raise money. See the address to send your stuff to here.

You can trade in your bra.
From now until Feb. 8, Soma is accepting new or gently used bras in store and offering fittings and extra points for bras purchased. Items collected will be distributed to communities through the National Network to End Domestic Violence as a vital necessity for women; as the brand notes, “bras are the most needed yet least donated clothing item for women.” If you don’t live near a Soma boutique, you can donate via mail. See more info here. For those in the NYC area, Journelle runs a similar program every spring, and donations result in a sweet percentage off of new buys.

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