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What To Do With Old Bras

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31 Aug 2021

Everyone has that pile of clothes in the back of their closet that they’re planning on donating, but you often probably wonder what to do with old bras. While it may be easy to give away those old t-shirts and jeans, more often than not, when trying to get rid of old bras you probably end up placing them in the trash rather than the donation bin because second-hand undergarments are not the most popular or even accepted at some thrift stores. 

Yet, bras are a major part of clothing waste as they have microplastics within the fabric, and the pieces of metals in the underwire and clasps take hundreds of years to degrade. As we all look for ways to be more environmentally conscious these days, there are many unique methods to get rid of those unwanted bras rather than tossing them in the trash or letting them pile up in the back of your closet. 


What to do with old bras: I support the girls logo

The easiest and most common way to recycle your old bras is by donating them. However, conventional donation centers such as Goodwill often don’t take already worn undergarments, and, if they do, it is under very specific specifications. Therefore, a better option may be to check out your local women’s shelter or your local hospital’s breast cancer treatment center to see if they accept bras. In addition, there are programs for bra recycling that span past your own community. 

For example:

Free the Girls donates bras to victims of sex trafficking in El Salvador, Mozambique, and Costa Rica. Women who receive them then sell them to second-hand shops, empowering their own economic opportunity.

The Bra Recyclers collect and donate bras to over 100 international non-profit organizations that support women and girls around the world.

I Support the Girls provides bras, underwear, and menstrual hygiene products to people experiencing homelessness.

You can even start your own second-hand bra drive in your own community and help teach others about the importance of recycling bras and giving back to women around you!


What to do with old bras: bra recycling agency logo

If your bra is really worn down and unable to be given to another person, then there are recycling programs that will figure out what to do with your old bras for you, often breaking them down in an environmentally friendly fashion.

Terracycle specializes in eliminating the idea of waste by breaking down hard to recycle items. Their zero-waste fabrics box is on the pricier side but will accept your old bras and even other old clothes and efficiently and safely break down the complex fabrics and nylons.

The Bra Recycling Agency is a less pricey option that recycles bras into carpet cushioning and donates part of their profits to breast cancer research.

Bra Recyclers, previously mentioned, also has a bra recycling program on top of their donation program if your bras are too damaged.

With these programs, all you have to do is go onto their website and request a mailing label. It will get sent to your door and just put your bras inside and these organizations will do the rest! Major brands such as Harper Wilde and The North Face have also begun to develop programs for textile recycling. Harper Wilde’s Recycle Bra allows you to send in any of your old bras with just a mailing label. The North Face’s Close the Loop program is great if you are cleaning out some old clothes on top of your bras because they will accept anything!


What to do with old bras: a bra being held up with scissors close by

Lastly, if you have a creative spark, you can upcycle your bras and create something new out of them. Especially during October, Breast Cancer Awareness Month, there are many bra art competitions, to raise money for Breast Cancer Research. In addition, YouTube and Pinterest are filled with imaginative ideas on how to create something new from your old bras, including bracelets, headbands, and even purses!

Figuring out what to do with old bras can be difficult, but donating and recycling your old bras is not only a great way to clean out of your closet and make room for your perfectly fitting bra but is also an easy way to do something sustainable as we all try to reduce our environmental impact nowadays. 

These are just some examples of the thousands of programs and organizations that will accept gently worn or completely damaged bras. In the end, the best place to start is in your closet, going through your old bras and recognizing that some of them may be in need of replacement. After that, check out these programs and your own community to figure out what recycling program is best suited for you.

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