Don’t bin them – declutter bras and donate them for a good cause!
As it is breast cancer awareness month this October, we thought a post on how to declutter bras and how best to donate them would be fitting.
Who doesn’t have a few unwanted bras lurking in the back of their underwear drawers? Bras have a shelf-life for many reasons; changes to body size, wearing them to death, washing them too vigorously or just by being an ill-fitting and expensive purchase. So it is worth regularly having a sort out to recycle bras you don’t need or want.
How to declutter your bras
Take 15 minutes to declutter bras and ask yourself for each bra:
1. Does your bra fit you well?
Having a professional bra fitting is worth its weight in gold. However, during Covid, this is a bit trickier so here are some tips to help you decide if your bra is optimally supporting your breasts:
Bra band - should sit firmly and horizontally across your back.
Rib cage – the middle of your bras between your cups should sit flat against this and not lifted off your chest.
Ease – you should feel most comfortable when your bra is on the middle hook (as bras age they stretch so if it is on the last hook and feels loose, it’s time to let it go).
Adjust straps so that they don’t leave indents or fall off your shoulders.
Spilling over should not be happening on the top, sides, or bottom of the cups.
The underwire in your bra should not feel uncomfortable.
Sagging – the cups should not be wrinkly or baggy.
2. If your bra fits well, do you enjoy wearing it?
If you are wearing a bra every day, you should be wearing bras which you feel good in! They serve so many different purposes, whether that is a T-shirt bra for invisibility, a sports bra for support, a strapless bra for occasions, a maternity bra or a post-surgery bra, to name just a few!
However, ultimately we want our bras to make us feel positive, even if they are practical over beautiful. We therefore need to ask ourselves: do I feel happy wearing it? It may serve its purpose well but if you constantly avoid picking it out to wear, it is definitely time to let it go!
Check your breasts
Whilst you are trying on bras to decide which to keep and which to let go of, this is a great time to check your breasts.
Against Breast Cancer have a really helpful guide on their website: Being Breast Aware. Changes to your breasts to check for include:
- A change in the outline, shape or size of the breast
- A new lump in the breast or armpit
- Skin dimpling that changes the appearance of the surface of the breast
- In-drawing of the nipple, or alteration in its position
- Discharge or bleeding from the nipple for no apparent reason
- A rash or moist, red area on or around the nipple
- Discharge from the nipple for no apparent reason
Book an appointment with your GP if you notice anything unusual or you are worried.
How to recycle bras
Having a bra clear-out does not mean your unwanted bras cannot be recycled and reused. They don’t need to go to waste like the 300,000 tonnes of clothing ending up in household bins every year! But who will take them? Here are the best ways to donate and recycle your bras:
This brilliant charity recycles bras - it takes your unwanted bras and through their network of bra banks raises crucial money for breast cancer research. The bras donated also help support small businesses in Africa through a textile recovery project. These give bras a new lease of life and prevent them going to landfill. The project is focused in areas where bras are too expensive to produce locally. For every tonne of bras collected, Against Breast Cancer receives £700 to fund their research. With over 30 million women in the UK, we could really help make a difference (just think of the amount of unwanted bras we must have!)
Find one of their bra banks in your area by going to the charity’s website. Check with the bra bank holder in advance that they are able to accept donations given Covid-19. Alternatively, you can post your unwanted bras in a bag to: Recycling Scheme, Against Breast Cancer, Leathem House, 13 Napier Court, Barton Lane, Abingdon, OXON, OX14 3YT.
Similarly, this fantastic charity also helps to recycle bras. They collect them to help adults and children in Africa and the UK. They accept new or ‘gently worn’ (laundered) bras which can be any size, including sports and nursing bras, but not teen/cropped-top style or bikini tops. By ‘gently worn’ they mean bras that are in good condition and still have good wear left in them. They also ask for donations of new (unopened) packets of ladies’ or children’s pants (and they have a wishlist at Amazon here: Amazon wish list. You can send your bras and new underwear to them at: Smalls for All, Five Sisters Business Park, Westwood, West Calder, EH55 8PN, UK.
This lingerie brand also recycles bras and it has bins for unwanted, old or damaged bras in its stores. For every kilogram they receive, they make a donation to Coppafeel. This supports Coppafeel’s amazing work in highlighting the importance of checking your breasts to give everyone the best possible chance of surviving breast cancer. Those bras which are in a useable condition go directly to women in developing countries across the world. Those bras which can’t be used are broken down into parts which are also recycled.
Last but not least, M&S has also restarted their Shwopping scheme which was paused during lockdown. This is aimed at keeping clothing and shoes out of landfill. Clothing items, including unwanted bras, can be donated by customers in stores (via large cardboard ‘Shwop Drop’ boxes usually by the tills). These are then sent to Oxfam to be resold in one of its shops or online. However, if they cannot be resold then they will be reused via its social enterprise in Senegal or recycled into new materials, including the filling in M&S mattresses! Declutter and drop your unwanted items into a ‘Shwop Drop’ box in M&S stores (check in advance to make sure your nearest store has one).
If you are overseas: check out these options to recycle bras:
Australia, New Zealand, Singapore: Uplift Bras
So next time you open your underwear drawer – take a few minutes to declutter bras and remember the above schemes! Your old bras can make a real difference to someone else’s life.
If you need a hand decluttering your wardrobe then please book a session with one of our wonderful organisers here: Declutter on Demand.