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Iowa State Daily

Sustainable Solutions: Donating, reselling and upcycling your unwanted college apparel

David Derong

Over the duration of one’s time at college, it is nearly certain that they will accumulate a surplus of school apparel soon to end up buried in the depths of the closet, never to see the light of day again.

In result, students can find themselves with heaps of unworn and unwanted attire causing clutter throughout their room and closet space. Rather than allowing these preloved garments to turn to waste, there are several sustainable options available for students to give new life to these garments and even pocket some extra cash in the process.



Overflow Thrift located on Duff Ave (Tiffany Herring)

One sustainable option for clearing out your unwanted clothes is donating to a thrift store. These donations allow for others who might be in need of inexpensively-priced clothing to benefit from your contributions. By donating to a thrift store, students can not only declutter their own living space but also aid in contributing to a cycle of more sustainable fashion. Another benefit of donating to a thrift is that most stores accept all types of donations, including collegiate apparel. Thrift stores play a vital role in the sustainability movement and serve as valuable resources for ethical clothing choices, allowing those in your community to find new life to your unworn items. 

Ames residents have a handful of options when it comes to donating. The college town is home to well-known thrift chains like Goodwill and Salvation Army as well as independently owned shops like Overflow Thrift. 

Where to donate: Overflow Thrift Store, Salvation Army, Goodwill



The Loft Resale located on Main St

Considering the average college student may not have the disposable income to continue buying new clothes and disregarding the old, making money back from your unworn items is a great way to declutter while also pocketing some extra cash. There are several ways to go about clothing resale, with options both online and in-person. The internet is home to hundreds of clothing resale sites in which sellers can snap a few quick photos of their items, choose a listing price and have it posted to the world within minutes. For those with vintage collegiate gear or higher-value items, platforms such as Depop and Grailed can be great resources and are home to massive vintage clothing communities. For newer, more inexpensive pieces, sites like Poshmark and Ebay can be great options to come away with a quick and easy sale.

“I’ve bought almost all of my Iowa State stuff on Depop and Grailed,” Iowa State fan Andrew Hill said. “I’ve actually sold a lot of vintage college gear on there too, it’s a really quick and easy way to make money.”

For those looking to pocket some cash even faster, resale stores such as Plato’s Closet, with locations in Ankeny and West Des Moines, are great options to get rid of unwanted items while also leaving the store the same day with cold hard cash. While resale stores often will not be able to match the prices that items might sell for online, it is a fast and easy way to clear out large amounts of unused clothing while also earning some of that money back. While each Plato’s Closet location and other resale stores have their own guidelines on what they will buy, these stores generally look for name-brand clothing in gently used to unworn condition.

Plato’s Closet location in Ankeny accepts Iowa State and some other collegiate apparel, depending on style and condition. While not all items are guaranteed to be taken in by Plato’s, this can be a great way for students to clear out their unworn college apparel while walking out of the store the same day with cash in hand.

Consignment stores, such as The Loft Resale located in downtown Ames, can also be a great sustainable option to get rid of unwanted clothes while making back some money on your old clothes. While consignors must wait for their item to sell in-store to get paid, it is an efficient and hassle-free way to clear out your closet.

Where to resell: Plato’s Closet, The Loft Resale, Depop, Poshmark, Ebay, Grailed



Barefoot Campus Outfitter Ames located on Lincoln Way

Upcycled clothing, defined by Merriam Webster as used goods or waste materials that are produced into something often better than the original, has quickly risen to become one of the hottest trends in sustainability today. Upcycling involves taking old, unworn, unwanted items and transforming them into a new and improved product. One of the major benefits of upcycling is its relatively low cost of transforming your old garments into something new and exciting. Possibilities for upcycling clothing include cropping, haltering and embroidering among many more as the options are nearly endless. Upcycling clothing on your own can also help develop technical skills of sewing, cutting and hemming. 

For students who might lack the resources or prior knowledge to DIY themselves, stores such as Barefoot Ames are there to help. Iowa State’s location of the nationwide collegiate apparel retailer offers upcycling services on students’ new or preloved clothing. Students can choose between a variety of regular cuts for $5 and advanced cuts for $10. Regular cut services include crop tops and muscle tees while advanced cuts range from halter tops to T-shirt dresses.

“There’s hundreds of different ways you can customize your clothing,” Caroline Stone, a Barefoot Ames employee said. “I personally love the cropped looks for game days and going out.”

Whether doing it yourself at home or bringing it in to be repurposed, upcycling clothing is a sustainable way to bring new life to your unworn clothing and create something entirely new.

Where to upcycle: DIY, Barefoot Ames

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    Claire Steigelman | Jan 23, 2024 at 11:28 am

    Happy to take a medium t-shirt as an OOS admitted freshman if anyone wants to share it!