10 Sustainable Ways to Get Rid of Bras and Underwear

Keep your undergarments out of landfills by donating them to these organizations or recycling programs.

pink and nude bras close-up
Photo: Getty Images

We all own bras that don't quite fit. Perhaps the underwire pinches or the straps slide off your shoulders. Whatever the reason (a wrong size or overuse), the undergarment is probably tucked into the back of your underwear drawer, long forgotten—when it could very easily get a second life or help a woman in need. Take some time to go through your bra and underwear collection and then turn to one of these sustainable recycling programs or non-profit organizations that will keep your gently used undergarments out of a landfill.

I Support the Girls

This organization holds donation drives across the United States and in five other countries to collect bras and menstrual hygiene products for women and people in homeless shelters. They've collected and distributed over 21 million products to homeless shelters, domestic violence shelters, refugee resettlement homes, foster care agencies, LGBTQ+ agencies, and homes for pregnant teens. You can look for a donation drive at an established affiliate location or mail your gently-used bras to their headquarters.

Bras for the Cause

Bras for the Cause has been hosting events since its founding in 2007 to raise money for breast and cervical cancer research in Iowa. Unlike other groups on this list, this non-profit doesn't want your plain, old bras. At their annual Bras for the Cause gala, their biggest affair of the year, undergarments decorated with all manner of sequins, clay, fabric, and household knick knacks are displayed and auctioned off, with proceeds going towards monetary grants for cancer research. The team hosts other events, including their annual B4 Bike Ride: Bras, Bikes, Beers, and accepts monetary donations throughout the year.

The Bra Recyclers

If your bra doesn't fit quite right, consider passing it on to someone else. The Bra Recyclers distributes bras to women in need, and also funnel unwearable bras into proper textile recycling facilities. Rather than letting your bra go to a landfill, print out a label and send it off.

Free the Girls

Sex slavery is a grim reality that plagues women all over the world, and establishing independence after being freed from trafficking is an enormous challenge. Free the Girls distributes donated bras to survivors and helps them set up secondhand clothing businesses in their communities. The organization poses the question, "What are these women being rescued to?" and aims to answer that question with economic freedom.

Bra Recycling Agency

Per a Business Wire report, the global lingerie market is worth over 72 billion dollars annually. So when you throw out a bra, you're really throwing away money. The Bra Recycling Agency—or, clever, the BRA—collects bras that are unsuitable for wear and processes them to be recycled. Bras, as it turns out, make great carpet cushion (particularly the red carpeting that you see at big events). Ordering an e-kit from the BRA is easy, and then the agency takes care of sorting, component separation, metal extraction, and final freight to carpet cushion manufacturer.

Planet Aid

Along with bras, you can find sustainable ways to get rid of your old underwear, too. Some donation centers don't accept used underwear, but Planet Aid boxes will, as long as all pairs are freshly washed.

Hanky Panky

Hanky Panky, an underwear and sleepwear brand, has a partnership with Green Tree, a non-profit organization that works to prevent textiles from entering landfills, for their Lingeriecycle initiative. This program allows you to donate at least four pairs of laundered underwear (and bras, too!) at a time. The company will email you a label for the packaging. From there, you can ship the undergarments to the underwear brand from your local USPS.

The Undies Project

If you have new underwear that you have not worn (say, you purchased the wrong size by mistake), don't let those pairs go to waste. Through the Undies Project, you can send them to children and adults in need, as this article of clothing is the most under-donated. This non-profit accepts new panties, boxers, and briefs for all ages and sizes.


You can also try at-home solutions to give your underwear a second life. Compost 100 percent cotton or silk underwear, after removing the elastic strap. Or, use worn-out underpants as wash rags—they make gentle, no-scratch washcloths for your car!

Local Boutiques

There's a good chance clothing retailers in your area accept clothing donations, and might even give discounts in exchange for your recyclables. Keep an eye out for Soma boutiques in your area. The lingerie brand partners with I Support the Girls for bra drives that distribute bras to shelters in the National Network to End Domestic Violence.

Local franchises like New York City lingerie boutique Journelle have bra drives regularly, too. Consider asking your local lingerie shop to set up a collection point for a hometown bra drive. And next time you buy lingerie, look for an eco-friendly brand that uses sustainable production practices and biodegradable components like cotton.

Updated by
Nashia Baker
Nashia Baker, Associate Digital Editor for Martha Stewart
Nashia Baker is a skilled writer and editor in the journalism industry, known for her work interviewing global thought leaders, creatives, and activists, from Aurora James to Stacey Abrams. She has over five years of professional experience and has been a part of the Martha Stewart and Martha Stewart Weddings teams for the last 3 years.
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