This may have happened to you: Post–Marie Kondo, you take a huge load of stuff that no longer brings you joy—but could certainly bring joy to others—to donate, only to have perfectly good bras rejected. Surely someone would be in need of practical things like never or gently used undergarments, right? Alas, some places don’t accept bras in any condition, which means they’re tossed. But there are plenty of places that do take your old underpinnings—bras, swimsuits, and more—to recycle, repurpose, or resell. Read all about ’em.
You can recycle your bras.
Whether that means getting your new or lightly worn bra on someone who needs it or actually having the fibers turned into something else, recycling your bras is absolutely an option. The Bra Recyclers is a company we found online. (You can find out how to send in your own bras here.) If you shop from the indie label Harper Wilde, your purchase will come with a prepaid return shipping label so you can ship them your old bras to be recycled.
You can also recycle your wet suit: Sending yours in to Suga—or dropping it off at specific locations in California and Canada—gets you a 10 percent discount off one of Suga’s products, which include yoga mats made from, yep, recycled wetsuits.
You can donate your bras and swimsuits.
Free the Girls is an anti-sex-trafficking organization that accepts donated bras, and it has drop-off locations across the U.S. willing to accept small donations of up to five bras (those with more can send them in). Donated bras are used as part of the founding inventory for female trafficking survivors in parts of Central America and Africa to start their own businesses selling secondhand clothes. There’s even a page on the organization’s website about how to host a bra drive if you want to get friends and family involved.
I Support the Girls partners up with lingerie brand Third Love to collect and distribute bras and menstrual products to women in need around the world, including to refugees, women and girls in homeless shelters, LGBTQ+ organizations, and homes for pregnant teams. You can donate your new or gently worn bras by sending them in or dropping them off at a location near you.
Bras for a Cause is another organization happy to accept donated bras—as well as your “gently loved” swimsuits and lingerie. Everything you send in is passed on to women in need, including breast cancer survivors. Download the donation form, send your bras to their mailing address, and you’ll receive a tax receipt by email after they process your things.
You can take your gently used bras to the mall.
Keep an eye out at stores like Aerie, Soma, Victoria’s Secret, and Journelle for bra drives or trade-ins, which generally offer incentives for customers to bring in bras (and sometimes other clothing)—think store discounts or vouchers (the mentioned stores have done events like this in the past). Aerie, for example, has partnered with Free the Girls to pass gently worn bras on to sex trafficking survivors—and the store will give you a 15 percent discount voucher for your next bra purchase there with any bra donation.