Now that spring weather has arrived in Evanston, it’s time to transition from winter sweaters and heavy jackets to the appropriate spring attire: t-shirts, ripped jeans, shorts, summer dresses, sandals and tanks. Switching over your closet marks the perfect opportunity to evaluate what fits and what you don’t wear anymore. Spring cleaning can take on more meaning, however, than just throwing away unwanted clothes and items. Instead, you can give back to the community and be environmentally savvy by donating your clothes, and Evanston has an abudance of great spots to do just that.
1. H&M’s Recycle Your Clothes Initiative
In 2013, H&M created the Recycle Your Clothes program to prevent reusable textiles and clothing from ending up in landfills. According to their website, up to 95 percent of clothes that are thrown away “could have been re-worn or recycled.” Since the start of the initiative, H&M has collected 55,000 tonnes of clothes – enough material for over 270 million t-shirts!
Dropped off clothes are sorted into rewearable, reusable and recyclable piles. Additionally, H&M donates 0.02 euros to charity for every kilogram collected. In United States donations go to Keep America Beautiful, a nonprofit that promotes environmentally-friendly living. Next time you’re downtown, make sure to stop by H&M to donate old and out-of-season clothes while shopping for the newest spring trends.
Goodwill is a nonprofit that provides job planning, job placement and a variety of other community-based programs to veterans, single-parent families and marginalized groups who lack the education and experience to achieve professional success.
Evanston’s Goodwill is on Dempster Street. Before you call that Uber, don’t forget that clothes donated must be free of rips, tears and stains since Goodwill resells them rather than converts them into new materials. After you drop off your donation, make sure to search the thrift store for an inexpensive and unique piece that may be out of style for someone else, but perfectly matches your look.
3. Madewell: Blue Jeans Go Green
Owned by J.Crew, Madewell is a store focused on denim and other simple wardrobe essentials, such as jackets, t-shirts, sweaters, shoes and accessories. To encourage customers to recycle old denim, Madewell has developed the Blue Jeans Go Green initiative. When you drop off old jeans at a Madewell store (the closest to Evanston is in Old Orchard Mall), they are sent to the Blue Jeans Go Green organization and recycled into housing insulation. Bonus: Donating your denim through Madewell gets you $20 off a pair of Madewell jeans! As most pairs are over $100, this donation is not only worth it for the environment, but also for your wallet.
According to the website, 287,696 jeans have been recycled so far, which amounts to over 350 houses built from recycled denim across the United States. Next time you rip your favorite pair of jeans to the point that they can’t be salvaged, make the trip to Madewell to donate them and get a discount on a newer and better replacement.
4. Evanston School Children’s Clothing Association
The ESCCA provides clothing for Evanston/Skokie School District 65 students in kindergarten through the eighth grade. According to their website, more than 700 children receive clothing and shoes from ESCCA. Although clothing that fits college students may not fit elementary schoolers, if you’re petite or wear smaller sizes your clothes could be perfect for middle schoolers.
Drop-off locations include the August LaCapra State Farm Agency on Chicago Avenue and a bin outside the District 65 administration building on McDaniel Avenue. Just take a quick ride on the purple line to Main Street and walk a block to the State Farm or Uber to the District 65 building to drop off your donations.
5. The North Face: Clothes the Loop
Through The North Face’s Clothes the Loop program, people can drop off clothes and shoes of any condition and brand at a North Face store. Donors receive a $10 coupon for their next purchase of $100 or more (which will come in handy when you need a new winter jacket for winter quarter) and The North Face sends the donations to Soles4Souls, a nonprofit that creates jobs and relief by distributing clothes and shoes to impoverished families. According to The North Face, there have been over 95,000 pounds of donations. Although The North Face Evanston store closed in March (R.I.P.), you can still drop off your donations at the Old Orchard Mall store in Skokie or in downtown Chicago.
If you haven’t already heard about Poshmark from their many social media influencer advertisers, we’ll get you up to speed – it’s a website and app used to buy and sell old clothes and accessories. All you have to do is set up an account, take and post pictures of what you are selling and wait for people to find them. (Hint: The key to getting viewers is to follow a lot of people and use keywords and hashtags.)
When you make a sale, Poshmark sends a pre-paid, pre-addressed label for you to ship your pieces to the buyer. One thing to keep in mind, however, is that Poshmark does take a certain percentage of the sale for themselves as commission.
The company also hosts Posh Parties, or virtual events with selling and buying themes, which help ensure there are buyers interested in what you’re selling. If you want new clothes to replace the ones you donated during spring cleaning, Poshmark is a perfect way to refill your closet without making too much of a dent in your bank account.
While you’re enjoying the chance to finally lounge on the Lakefill again, use the necessary wardrobe update to give back to the community and keep the planet healthy so that you can continue enjoying all of Earth’s natural beauty far into the future.