“More than 15 million tons of used textile waste is generated each year in the United States, and the amount has doubled over the last 20 years . . . An average American throws away approximately 80 pounds of used clothing per person.” –Rick LeBlanc, Textile Recycling Facts and Figures, the balance (Dec. 29, 2017), https://www.thebalance.com/textile-recycling-facts-and-figures-2878122.
As a longstanding shopaholic and a more recent minimalist, I do my best to reduce, reuse, and recycle all of mine and my husband’s clothes.
I’ve been selling my clothes to Plato’s Closet and Uptown Cheapskate for years, and I have experimented with different techniques to get the biggest return. On average, I usually walk away with $100–$150 per 3 medium bags of stuff – clothes, shoes, bags, and accessories. It may not sound like a lot, but when I first started selling my clothes (in high school), I’d get about $10–$25 per 3 bags. That is probably due to a number of factors, including the quality of clothing I bought then vs. now, but after doing this about six times a year, I’ve learned some things along the way.
Here are my tips & tricks:
- Both Plato’s and Uptown purchase “gently used clothing,” and when they say “gently,” they mean it. Stains, tears, fraying, fading, etc. is a no-go. If an item is questionable in terms of wear and tear, don’t try to sell it. Not only will they not buy it, but it lowers your chances of selling the rest of your things.
- Plato’s seems to prefer your American Eagle, Lucky, Abercrombie, Buckle-type stuff (you know – the light-wash denim jeans with gemstones all over the pockets). Uptown seems to like your Zara, Asos, BCBG, NastyGal-type clothes (think Spice Girl platform booties and black leather anything).
- Always take your clothes in old shopping bags or gift bags, not garbage bags. The cuter the bag, the better. If you’re attached to a particular bag, you can always bring it back home afterward. Presentation makes a big difference.
- The magic number of bags is 3–4. Not too little, not too much. Still, expect to wait an average of 30–40 minutes.
- People often overlook this one, but do your makeup and put on a cute outfit when you go in. I know this sounds ridiculous, and we usually sell our clothes after we’ve been cleaning all day and are in gym clothes, but I always walk away with more money when I go in looking good. Regardless of the systems they use, there is always some discretion involved.
- Mix up the content of each bag with some clothes, shoes, and accessories. I used to do one bag of all clothes, one bag of all shoes, etc., but that never goes as well. Think of it from the buyer’s perspective. They go through hundreds of bags a day. Give them something interesting to look at.
- Go one step further and mix up the seasons and pieces. Don’t put all your cotton t-shirts together. Give them a little assortment, like this: crop top, flowy spring dress, fall jacket, leather skirt, jeans, sweater, t-shirts, more dresses.
- The best time to sell your seasonal clothing is right at the beginning of that season. For example, it’s just starting to warm up here in Utah, so I sold 4 bags of spring and summer clothes that have been sitting in my closet untouched for over a year – I didn’t wear those clothes last year, so the chances of me wearing those clothes this year is… close to 0.01%.
I prefer Uptown over Plato’s, because they buy more and they donate everything they don’t buy to Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, which in turn will sell what they don’t use to Saver’s to use those funds to care for children. This also means you make one stop, instead of two.
Aside from selling and donating my clothes, I wash and reuse tattered old t-shirts, socks, leggings, etc. to dust and clean, or repurpose them – my most recent DIYs are making cat beds out of old bedding and clothes. Zero waste, and the babies love them!