This means I was looking to:
First: match clothes with people who are most likely to use them if I know such people
Second: get them to a place where they might have some re-sale value and be sold to a wider audience (but again, to people who want them)
Third: for items that likely aren't all that desirable, get them to a thrift store for possible re-sale or sorting to ship overseas (wearable, just not very "current" or worthwhile vintage) or textile recycling, which can be sorting to ship overseas or for use in repurposed products like insulation, etc. if it's a single-source material like cotton (this is stuff like old t-shirts, damaged or stained items, worn out workout clothing)
^ just one heap of many - ready to go to Housing Works ^
So, first I started a Facebook group for NYC Vegans Clothing Swap and invited a bunch of people I knew and encouraged them to invite their friends. I figured this would be easier than waiting for swaps where the same friends showed up each time and we are all different sizes and styles. This group would hopefully mean there was a better chance for overlap with others of similar styles and sizes. So far I've given away a pair of shoes, got a dress and some friends have rehomed a few of their items as well. This group might be better situated to either host larger in-person swaps or to focus on accessories and shoes online since those are easier things to have measurements for. No one seems to want to have to measure clothing and it's hard to figure out what might fit otherwise. Anything that hasn't gone on the swap group, I've either moved to my second step or saved for an in-person swap. (If you are in NYC and want to join that group, just let me know.)
Second, I brought a bag of in-season stuff to Beacon's Closet and Buffalo Exchange. Twice. I ended up with credit and I will put the rest back into my holding box for an in-person swap.
Third, I bagged up all items I didn't think would sell or be taken at a swap and brought them to Housing Works. Housing Works has a partnership with NYC that makes them the only textile recycler operating on behalf of NYC...and they have a process for sorting clothing that involves their thrift shops (that benefit New Yorkers, as Housing Works in a non-profit), a thrift warehouse and a process for overflow. They are transparent in their process - see below!
What happens to clothes and other items deposited into the re-fashioNYC donation bins?Your donations will be picked up and transported to Housing Works’ warehouse in Queens for sorting. Some donations will be sold in Housing Works’ shops throughout NYC or at one of their regular “all-you-can-stuff” warehouse sales. Some leftovers from these sales will be shipped to another nonprofit thrift shop in Haiti, while others will be made available to different nonprofit thrift shops for sale in their stores. The rest will be sold to a used textile merchant for recycling or export to overseas markets. In all cases, the profits generated from the sale of your donations will benefit low-income and homeless New Yorkers living with and affected by HIV/AIDS.
Why was Housing Works selected as the charitable partner for re-fashioNYC?Of the many charitable organizations that answered New York City’s partnership offer, Housing Works proposed the best plan for getting the most value out of the donations and routing them back to help New Yorkers in need. According to this partnership, Housing Works is the sole and exclusive textile recycler operating on behalf of New York City.
By giving everything in my third category to Housing Works, I didn't need to sort what would get sent to a thrift store and what would really need to go to textile recycling (plus I didn't have much that was ratty as we use some of that for rags around the house). This made my final step pretty easy - and I knew their sorting process would get things to the right place.
I'd like to hear how you pass off your unwanted apparel, accessories and shoes -- what do you consider when finding a place for this stuff to go? What steps would you have added or done differently?