Seven ways to recycle your bra

Filed in Recycle by on April 8, 2010 16 Comments
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Recycle your old bras for charity

Recycle your old bras for charity

I mentioned on the site that I was decluttering my wardrobe and some of you reminded me that recycling bras was something to keep in mind.

Well I have to confess, I do have some underwear that is looking for a home, so I’ve been looking in to the various ways to recycle bras for charity.

It’s estimated that the average UK women has 4 unused bras in her wardrobe. Perhaps you’ve changed sizes after having a baby or stopped breast feeding, have put on or lost weight, have a growing teenager in the house or simply bought something that doesn’t fit properly. Or maybe, like most British women and their clothes; you’ve bought something you’ve never worn because you don’t like the fit / colour / style …

Breast Talk Bra Appeal

Sheila told me about the Breast Talk bra appeal.
Breast talk distribute bras to charities throughout the UK and overseas or use them to generate cash for breast cancer research.

While I have several unwanted items spilling out of my wardrobe, other women are not so lucky. For instance, some homeless women do not have many possessions and in some countries, where women have to choose between feeding their kids or buying new underwear, the price of a new bra is out of their reach.

You can post any washed and decent bras direct to the BreastTalk appeal. They ask that you attach a small piece of paper to each bra with the size using a paper clip.

BreastTalk.co.uk – Bra Appeal
PO Box 71
Craven Arms
Shropshire
SY7 0WZ

Bag It Up!

Alison Jones from “Bag It Up” told me all about their ‘bag it up’ campaign:

“Our quirky bra campaign was first launched for the Yorkshire Air Ambulance in Autumn 2006 with the aim to collect 200,000 bras, which would guarantee £10,000 for the charity. The scheme was then extended to include the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Air Ambulance Bra Amnesty, Somerset and Dorset Air Ambulance ‘Bag A Bra’ and CancerCare Bra Amnesty.

Bras are worth more to the charities we support than our mixed clothing grade, but because they are so small and lightweight, it is hard to find enough bras to meet the bulk demand from overseas markets, particularly West Africa.

If you would like to collect bras at your workplace, college or community group, you can request a pack of posters, bags and information from Bag It Up at the address below or by telephoning 01422 418618.

Every single bra helps! If you have only a ‘handful’ which you can post, please send them to us at:

The ‘Bag It Up’ Bra Campaign
Bag It Up
Calder Street
West Vale
Greetland
Halifax
HX4 8AQ

For all of our Yorkshire, Hampshire, Dorset and Somerset residents you can also place your bras into a bag very clearly marked up ‘BRAS’ and put them in any of the clothing recycling banks we have throughout the regions.

REMEMBER: We also collect any of your unwanted clothes, shoes and household textiles in the clothing banks, which are a sustainable source of income for all the life-saving and life-changing charities we support. Please have a spring clean out now to see how much you could donate.

Visit Bag It Up and use our postcode locator at the top of the home page to find your nearest bank.

All items donated are repacked at our warehouse, before they are sent to one of our grading partners, to be pressed into bales ready for shipment all around the world!. Bras are sent to West Africa where local women can buy quality used bras at affordable prices.

We only sell to recognised traders in the UK and abroad, where the demand for quality clothing is high, and there is a used clothing market freely available to all.

You can read more about the bra schemes by visiting our ‘campaign’s page.

Charity shops

Karen said that in Devon, where she lives, there are a number of charity shops accepting bra donations, so it’s always worth asking locally.

Breast Cancer campaign

Gill gave the heads up to the breast cancer campaign. They have bra recycling points across the country. You need to email [email protected] to find your nearest recycling bank.

Homeless shelter

If you live near a homeless shelter, then just take your unwanted bras there yourself where your donations will be gratefully received.

Textiles bank

If your bra is beyond use then you can donate them to a textiles bank or local Oxfam shop where they will be reused as material for other uses.

Recycling bras in the US

For our friends across the pond, the Bra Recyclers site have drop off points around the country to help you recycle your unwanted undies.

What about you – any other campaigns, charities or quirky reuse ideas to add to the list?

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About the Author ()

I am a long time supporter of the Green and Sustainable lifestyle. After being caught in the Boscastle floods in 2004, our family begun a journey to respect and promote the importance of Earth's fragile ecosystem, that focussed on reducing waste. Inspired by the beauty and resourcefulness of this wonderful planet, I have published numerous magazine articles on green issues and the author of four books.

Comments (16)

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  1. Julie Day says:

    Bras – how about the new Giving Clothes up for good campaign that TKMaxx are now doing. I think you pick up a bag from the store, put your decent clothes in it and drop that in a special box in store. I know I did that a couple of years ago. I will be getting rid of a couple of clothes this way this year. All goes to charity.

  2. Funny you should do a post on this, I was just reading about this last night following a link in one of the forums on http://www.MoneySavingExpert.com.

    I have afew to sort out then will decide where best to send them.

  3. Confession time: although i threw my bra away long ago, i did not have the full fledged courage of my convictions; and secretly hung onto a few of my undie possessions.
    Yes, somewhere in the bottom of a box lurk the dusty specters of a caged era. The someday maybe- what if – for some special occasion? types of doubts which haunt all dire decisions…all were at play in my hanging onto several different styles and purposes of the most personal of garments.
    Thank you for opening the subject and releasing the closet of abandoned would-be useful items. Now i may choose to finally donate the precious holders of my vanity and give them to those who would appreciate what i once used to experience as societal torture tools.
    In the US. we simply donate to the Goodwill or Church bazaars, and thrift shops. And they do sell fast and cheap. there is a need for all sizes and shapes.

  4. Mrs Green says:

    @Julie Day: Hi Julie – thank you for that; I was not aware of the scheme. I have a friend who is a TXMax fan, so I’ll tell her about it too!

    @maisie dalziel: Oh how weird; I need to go and take a look at the forum now to see what people have been saying! I’ll see if there are any other schemes to add to the article – thank you Maisie.

    @nadine Sellers: Lovely comment, Nadine. I believe free and easy is supposed to be healthier if you’re not overly endowed ;) So glad the article helped you reach a conclusion!

  5. carolinep says:

    thanks for this article – after 4 kids and breastfeeding them all I have plenty of bras that no longer fit, but are almost as good as new. There is no way I can go without – I have to have them padded to avoid ‘nip-through’ – and avoiding all and sundry talking to my chest instead of me LOL! (only B cup so if I am wearing baggy clothing I don’t bother though)

  6. Mrs Green says:

    @carolinep: So glad you found the article useful; it’s a good feeling when we can send our unneeded stuff to help others. Nip-through LOL! Never heard of that before :D

  7. Krysti says:

    Thank you for featuring us on your website. I wanted to share information with you and your readers regarding our Bra Recycling Month event to take place during October.

    October is traditionally dedicated to Breast Cancer and Domestic Violence Awareness. In an effort to support these powerful causes, The Bra Recyclers are offering women nationwide an opportunity to support these efforts in a different way, by recycling used and unused bras.

    Bra Recycling is an economical and environmentally friendly way to give support to women nationwide that are breast cancer survivors or transitioning from domestic violence situations.

    Recycle your bras during October and you will be entered to win great prizes. So far prizes include:
    • 3 – $25 American Express Gift Certificates
    • 4 – $25 Soma Intimates Gift certificates (www.soma.com)
    • 3 – $25 Allure Intimate Apparel Gift Certificates (www.allurefits.com)
    • 1 – $25 Bodacious Boutique Gift Certificates (www.bodaciousboutique.com)
    • 1 – $30 Gift Certificate for a pair of Footzy Rolls (www.ittybittybra.com)
    • 1 – Bra of Your Choice from Itty Bitty Bra (www.ittybittybra.com)

    For the most up to date prize information, please visit http://www.brarecycling.com. Prize winners will be announced every Friday in October on Facebook (www.facebook.com/thebrarecyclers) and our website (www.brarecycling.com).

    It’s simple to recycle your bras and be entered into our weekly drawing, just follow the steps below:
    1. Find used and unused bras that you, your family members or friends are no longer
    wearing and put them in a box or envelope.
    2. Fill out the Bra Recycle Form which is located on our website and include it in your
    box. In order to be eligible for the prize drawing, we must receive the Bra Recycling
    Form with your bras.
    3. Mail your bras to:
    3317 S. Higley Rd, Ste 114-441
    Gilbert, AZ 85297
    Note: All bras must be postmarked by October 31 to be included in the drawing for prizes.

    If you have any questions please send an email to [email protected]

  8. Mrs Green says:

    Great update – thanks Krysti and good luck with your campaign :)

  9. Make them into Bra Purses; I will make a tutorial and link back soon!!

  10. Mrs Green says:

    @Michelle Morgan: Hi Michelle, what an intriguing sounds project! I can’t wait to see it!

  11. Tracey says:

    Not quite recycling as such, but thought the below might help lengthen the life of a bra or two that might otherwise be recycled in one of the fabulous ways above:

    I’m (luckily/unluckily?) too big to get away without an underwired bra at work/in public (though I prefer to be without at home where I can relax) without getting horrid comments/looks from random strangers in the street.

    To date, the only reason I’ve got rid of any of my bras is because the underwire has started to stab me in the chest or when I grew out of them (way back when) and the “grow out of” ones were good enough to charity shop.

    However, despite trying to repair pokey-stabby underwires so that they don’t poke and stab, I’ve failed so far, so was looking online to see if anyone else had found a frugal way to fix them rather than throwing them out and buying new… No-one seemed to have any “how to repair it so it doesn’t just poke through again” tips, but I DID find (and order) an Underwire Bra Repair Kit:
    http://www.thebraangel.co.uk/product/The_Bra_Angel_Underwire_Bra_Repair_Kit_BRK001

    They seem to be quite clear about their packaging and the actual repair items are reusable once the bra totally wears out. :)

    I’ll report back once I’ve tried these! :)

  12. Mrs Green says:

    @Tracey: What a great find Tracey – do let us know if it’s successful. :)

  13. Tracey says:

    After trying them on 2 of my underwired bras, I can say that I’m amazed. Once it was in place, you couldn’t even tell the bra had been broken and I thought I’d risk it and I even put it through the washing machine (in a net bag) and it was fine – insert still in place. :)

    The main problem I have is that it doesn’t “fit in seconds” as advertised, but after several minutes of pushing, poking and wedging (and a bruised thumb – I ended up putting a bit of thick cardboard between me and the insert to stop my thumb hurting while trying to push it in)! To say they are “quite difficult to get in” is a bit of an understatement, but I might just have “that type of bra” that it’s a problem for (both bras were the same style). When fitting it onto the second one, I even broke one of the “bra angel” inserts, therefore adding slightly to landfill. :(

    On the other hand, that’s 2 bras that had been destined to go out (charity/otherwise), which are now back in use and saving me the cost of buying some new underwear! :D

    Would I buy them again – definitely!
    Would I buy extras incase of breakages when fitting (or to save for future if not needed) – yes.

    The packaging was very simple – a cardboard folded outer bit with a small zip-lock bag holding the two “bra-angels” sellotaped to the inside. Arrived in a normal envelope.

    Hope that helps someone in a similar situation.

  14. Tracey says:

    PS. We use a lot of ziplock bags for keeping board game pieces together, so they’ll be put to use elsewhere!

  15. Mrs Green says:

    @Tracey: fantastic – thanks for coming back to report your experiences; I think this will be really useful for other readers :D

  16. Paula says:

    You can also recycle your bra’s at any of the Bravissimo stores. They have what they call ‘Bra banks’ which you can deposit your old bras into. The money they raise from bra recycling gets donated to the Eve appeal, which is a fantastic cause! I also love Bravissimo, everytime I take bras in to recycle I end up buying new ones!

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