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17th March 2020

Bra Recycling!

My lingerie drawer is overflowing with bras. If I am being honest with myself, I only wear around 20% of them. Some of the bras in the remaining 80% I like to tell myself have permission to be sitting there unworn. Three for example are my old maternity/ feeding bras… Why would I throw out bras which I could use again one day? Did you see the word ‘could’, that is the problem with my lingerie drawer. I COULD need my maternity bras again; I COULD need that strapless Wonderbra which I broke because I have a floordrobe and it has been stood on one too many times. I COULD need those bras which are no longer the right size because my bra size is up and down every week like an umbrella in England. And what about those bras which I COULD need in an emergency, the ones which I have loved and worn for years, which have inevitably started deteriorating.

I would like to bet that most women out there have bras in their drawer that are there because quite simply, we have no idea what to do with them or because we COULD need them in the future. So, what on earth do we do with our old, unloved, or unworn bras? What do we do with our bras which are now so big that without a pair of rugby socks or an army of chicken fillets, we will never fit into them again? I have AN AMAZING solution for you. Bra recycling! There are many organisations which will take your unneeded and unwanted bras and YES that includes your was white/ now grey, holey, one wired, old faithful that looked after you through your good and bad times. There are even organisations which will take knickers from you!

For your new and gently worn bras, we support (forgive the pun) a fantastic charity called Smalls for All which is based in West Lothian, Scotland. This charity relies on people posting bras to them, but you can also drop them off in certain places across the UK, such as our boutique in Elland. I would advise contacting the company and asking them whether you have a drop off point local to you. The bras are then shipped to developing countries such as Zambia, Uganda and Kenya. Here your bra can make a huge difference to the life of vulnerable girl’s and women. In certain countries in Africa underwear is seen as a symbol of status. For a woman, having lingerie suggests that they are being cared for by a man, leaving them less vulnerable to other men.

Have a look at the Smalls for All website – https://www.smallsforall.org/ and see where your bra could end up and the difference it could make! Think about the change that recycling just one of your unworn bras could make to a woman who doesn’t have one, and to your cluttered bra drawer!

So, what about those bras that have been loved by us for the longest time but died WAY too soon? You can recycle those too! Your local clothing and textile recycling banks will take your dishevelled lingerie, break it down into reusable parts and help to prevent it entering landfill. Websites such as Recycle Now will help you locate your nearest bank. Alternatively, charities such as Oxfam claim to recycle EVERY item of clothing which is donated to them. So next time you are passing one of their shops, drop your (clean) lingerie in and they will make sure that it never reaches landfill!

When it comes to knickers, your options are more limited. But the great news is that there are still places which will accept them!! (Providing they are clean!) These too can be recycled at your local textile recycling station. Alternatively, if you have bought bottoms and never worn them, Smalls for All will take them too! This wonderful company provides pants to children ages three to fifteen (boys and girls). Children in certain countries miss out on lessons every month when they get their period because they have no lingerie or sanitary products! These lessons and these items are VITAL for their futures! Think about the little boys and girls faces when they are given their first pair of underwear EVER and it is Spiderman, a unicorn or even just their favourite colour. These items we and our children take for granted make the biggest difference in other people’s lives.

Small’s for All are also desperately in need of lady’s briefs, sizes eight to fourteen. The ladies prefer black, modest bottoms. You now have NO EXCUSE to have an unworn pair or two hanging around, donate them! Imagine this, you have had a traumatic prolonged labour, have lost your baby as a result and while you are recovering from that grief and pain, you are now incontinent. Your underwear and clothing are damaged or unhygienic because you have lost control of your bladder, bowel or both. Many of the fistula patients that Smalls for All help, are in exactly that situation. Once they have gone through a successful surgical repair for their fistula they get to go home in a new pair of clothing and lingerie donated to them by you! You can make a beautiful, strong woman feel whole and human again. You can make her clean and help her to feel protected and priceless. The difference you can make in someone’s life by donating things which are otherwise going unused in your home is incredible! Alternatively, if you are grabbing some for yourself, why not grab an extra pair or pack of children’s or ladies’ pants to donate to this wonderful cause.

If you would like to donate your smalls to Smalls for All (we think you should!) we collect new and gently worn bras and unworn bottoms! We then drop your donations off with another AMAZING charity just down the road from our boutique, called Project Colt who help sort through them (check their work out online or visit their warehouse!). Smalls for All collect your donations from them and voila, they are on their way to help beautiful women and children in Africa!

There you have it! You don’t need to throw ANY of your lingerie away, not even the old stuff! So, stop sitting on your laurels reading this and get elbow deep in your lingerie drawer! I wonder what the options are for odd socks…

Photo by Paweł Czerwiński on Unsplash