When One Persons Trash Isn’t a Treasure: Donation Guidelines

Bonjour mes amies!

Thrifting was a part of my life before it was cool. I’ve shared countless tales avec mes amies about the “character building” shopping at church charity shops, and thrift stores provided me as a child.

In the early 90s, new clothes that looked worn were en vogue, not used clothes that were actually worn.

I can vividly remember all of les mensonages I told schoolmates who questioned my #ootd (the term “outfit of the day” certainly wasn’t a thing then, but we wore outfits daily, you get the point.)

“Oh, I had this dress in my attic (mensonage, we lived in an apartment) since last year; I forgot I had this,” I explained about a visibly worn new dress I selected for picture day.

Ma mere accidentally put my redshirt in the washing machine with my white clothes,” I justified as I smoothed the wrinkles of my peter pan collared slightly pink tinted-white button-down shirt.

I vowed that when I got older, I would only wear the fanciest and most expensive clothes money could buy.

Once I was financially able to afford the “fanciest and most expensive clothes money could buy” in addition to studying fashion design in Milan, Italy, I quickly learned that expensive does not equate to quality. I soon found myself willfully shop at thrift stores, this time internationally.

Not everyone’s trash is someone else’s treasure

Sometimes your trash is simply trash. During the height of stay-at-home orders, there was a surge of “how to cleanse your closet” or “why you should purge your closet now” videos and blogs on every social media platform. Seeing so many people take charge of their wardrobes and space made me extremely pleased.

But as more people posted videos and photos of pieces they were donating, I began to notice that not everyone’s trash is a treasure.

This observation was confirmed when stores reopened, and I noticed the surplus of imperfect pieces filling thrift shops. Versus researching where particular items should be taken to be discarded safely, people were simply bagging up their trash and dropping it at thrift stores and bins labeled as a donation.

Blood-soaked jeans, wholly sweaters, white shirts with yellowed armpits, and shoes with soles barely attached.

Never, and I emphasize never throw textiles in the trash. Find a textile recycling facility that will reuse the fibers. Or repurpose tattered t-shirts to cleaning cloths. I was a textile designer in Istanbul, Turkey, and I saw firsthand how much waste fast fashion produces.

Before gathering pieces, you no longer want into a trash bag “to do good,” ask the following questions to ensure that you are not donating your trash.

Why aren’t YOU wearing it? If you answer “yes” to the following questions, ce n’est pas un tresor, c’est trash:

  1. Is it because of the red wine (or any fluid) stain that you didn’t treat immediately?
  2. Did you tear the (insert article of clothing) in a manner that not even a TikTok hack could repair it?
  3. Did you, in fact, have the dress in the attic of your dearly departed (chain-smoking) grand mere, and the thirty-year stench of menthol simply can’t be removed?
  4. Did you notice that you now have a foot odor after wearing those shoes?
  5. Did you suddenly locate the gum you thought your toddler swallowed three years ago on the seat of those jeans?
  6. Is there a reason why you’re giving these items to a thrift shop (anonymously) versus a loved one or associate (i.e., someone who can talk about you for giving them trash?)

Mes amies, if you wouldn’t bring the items into your home, you shouldn’t assume others would. Gone are the days of believing only people in specific income brackets thrift or that people should be thankful or #blessed to get your scraps.

Be mindful, be honest and be tactful mes amies.

Do you have donation rules? I’d love to know.

Ciao for now 💋

The cover photo is one of my most prized thrifted pieces. A danish mink collared lambswool suit with matching silk jacquard bow blouse. 20€ mes amies! C’est in trésor.


  1. Andrea

    Very great points and yes if you would not bring them into your home so you shouldn’t is a big one for me!!

  2. Anonymous

    I’m not wearing it because I can’t fit it anymore lol. But most old tshirts I use for workout shirts. Anything stained I don’t dare give to anyone, trash.

  3. Andrea Seiger

    Can you recommend some textile recycling places in DMV?

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