top of page
  • B.Webster

A Guide to Recycling & Repair in Ottawa Part I: Clothing, Textiles, Accessories


Once you've done the hard work of sorting through your belongings and are ready to find new homes for them, use this guide to avoid tossing everything curb-side.


Tidying, organizing and packing can feel like monumental tasks in and of themselves. Having a list of organizations and options for re-homing your things will keep the process simple, easy and stress-free when you are ready to let go and move on.


You have options. Repair | Up-cycle | Sell | Give Away | Recycle | Shop smart

Read on to discover a few of my favourite organizations and options for selling, donating, recycling and giving new life to your items. This list was last updated in December 2023. If you know of any other organizations to add or notice a misplaced link, feel free to reach out to aconsciouslycuratedhome@gmail.com.


A neatly arranged child's closet showing books, toys and clothing.

Clothing, Textiles & Accessories


1. REDESIGN, REPAIR, UPCYCLE

✓ Redesign

DIY or ask local designers and tailors if they would consider altering something for you or repurposing a piece into something new.

  • For stained items that are still wearable, try naturally dying the fabric to give it a new life and/or turn it into something else.

  • For larger stains, rips and holes, consider DIY or having a local fashion designer reimagine the piece using visible mending techniques, by adding patches or tailoring the item/creating something new.

  • In Ottawa, Wyatt House will sometimes incorporate custom projects, creating one-of-a-kind zero waste garments based on fabric that is meaningful to you; similarly Lika Lila specializes in cashmere (Likalilacanada@gmail.com) and she can work around any stains or holes to create a new custom piece!

  • Tracey Vibert of Tav Creations does custom designs, alterations, and redesigns and Tara of Upcycle TexStyle will do mending and custom work (you can find her at the Main Street Market or email tara@tarahogerterp.ca).

  • Rebecca Rowe Hello@rebeccarowe.ca specializes in bridal alterations and designs capsule wardrobes.

  • One of my favourite cobblers and leather repair shops Max's Shoe Repair & Leatherworks will take on a range of leather projects if they are able - just ask!

✓ Repair DIY (find guidance online or in workshops - see 4. EDUCATE) or look for craft / crochet / sewing / yarn / knitting clubs, shops and organizations that may be able to take on repair projects.

  • There is a worldwide Visible Mending directory that you can search by location. Currently Ontario has only one listing but the site shows promise as more people are added.

  • Check your local Facebook or Nextdoor groups and ask around with friends and neighbours if they know of anyone.

  • The Ottawa Knitting Guild , Knitting Group Directory and Ravelry are community sites for knitters and crocheters who may be able to point you in the right direction, or help you realize a project.

2. RESELL, DONATE

✓ Sell & consign

There are many online and brick-and-mortar options for buying and selling second-hand items, ranging from curated marketplaces to vintage and specialty shops.

✓ Donate to local charities, organizations and neighbourhood groups

Charity policies vary among communities (many are run independently by region), so it’s best to review their acceptance policies online or call the specific location and ask what they are accepting.

  • The Buy Nothing Project on Facebook or similar Trash Nothing (and sometimes Nextdoor) are wonderful options for gifting items in your neighbourhood.

  • Fabrick Collective is a social enterprise that simplifies shopping for secondhand kids' clothes while raising money for the Elizabeth Fry Society of Ottawa to improve their transitional housing for criminalized women, and donating kids clothing to mothers in need.

  • Dress for Success accepts workwear and accessories to provide employment-ready women and gender nonconforming individuals with interview-appropriate attire. Make sure to read their list of acceptable items before donating.

  • Fairy Godmother collects new and almost-new formal dresses, shoes and accessories to provide them free of charge to Ottawa-area high school students who are unable to purchase their own prom attire. Donations can be dropped off at Browns Cleaners.

  • The Brides' Project accepts wedding dress donations (preferably less than 4 years old) and veils, unworn shoes, jewelry and accessories in good condition (they have a local Ottawa contact listed to arrange drop off). Similarly, Never Knew I Needed bridal boutique in Ottawa offers donation and consignment of wedding gowns less than 4 years old and optional keepsake creations from your dress.

  • The Ottawa Humane Society accepts bath towels, flat sheets, fleece blankets and pillow cases for their animals (see their wishlist here). You can also check with veterinarians and animal rescues if they are in need of any textiles.

  • Eco Equitable accepts fabric (not clothing) and sewing materials, see their guidelines on what is accepted here.

  • To donate knitting books and yarn, check the Ottawa Knitting Guild's suggested groups under 'charity outreach'.

3. RECYCLE, COMPOST

✓ Take-back programs

Many brands are starting their own close-loop programs, recycling initiatives and second-hand selling platforms. It's worth checking the brand website to see if they have a return program and asking brands to start one if it isn't available (customer feedback can create change)!

  • Donate to fashion designers who up-cycle: Wyatt Design house in Ottawa accepts un-used fabric remnants (at least 1/2 meter of usable fabric - preferably natural fibres), as well as denim in any condition; Lika Lila (Likalilacanada@gmail.com) works with cashmere to create new scarves, wraps, blankets and adorable stuffies and decor (donate your scraps or bring something in to be reimagined).

  • Jeans can also be recycled through either Frank & Oak or American Eagle, both withe locations in Rideau Centre (In collaboration with the Cotton’s Blue Jeans Go Green™ program, they collect worn-out denim and transform them into something new, such as thermal insulation.)

  • Montreal company, &OR Collective has partnered with SuperCircle to recycle pre-loved clothing of any brand and earn credits towards future &Or wardrobe purchases.

  • Patagonia WornWear will take Patagonia-brand items for resell or recycling and give you WornWear store credit in exchange.

  • The North Face Renewed Take-Back program takes used apparel and footwear (any condition) at retail or outlet stores in exchange for $10 off your next purchase. They refurbish what they can to be resold and if it can't be repaired, they recycle or donate.

  • The Smartwool Second Cut Project takes back used socks (check back as the program goes on pause yearly)

  • Though it is not advertised on their website, I've heard that SAIL on Trainyards Drive has a bin at the back (next to the shoe department) for collecting used socks (any brand, any material). Socks must be clean, not bundled together and not in bags or grouped together with elastics.

  • The Nike Reuse-a-shoe program accepts old athletic shoes from any brand (they're ground up and used to create courts, fields, tracks and playgrounds). They can be found at most Nike stores - check first if they will accept your end-of-life athletic sneakers from any brand. *They cannot currently recycle sandals, dress shoes, boots or any shoe with metal (cleats or spikes).

  • Soles4Soles Canada accepts all styles and sizes of new or gently-worn shoes. Look for the orange box at participating stores like Sportchek.

  • Aerie, has partnered with Free the Girls to pass gently worn bras on to sex trafficking survivors—there are 3 drop off points in Ottawa. *Keep an eye out at your local mall for recycling specialty items and bra drives or trade-ins. La Vie En Rose and Aerie have both hosted events in the past where customers could bring in bras and sometimes other clothing in exchange for a store discount or voucher.

  • Used eyeglasses and hearing aids can be donated to the Canadian Lions Eyeglass Recycling Centre (CLERC) at participating Walmarts, Hakim Opticals and other drop-off locations listed on their website. *Separate hearing aids in their own bag and drop in the eyeglasses collection box.

  • Terracycle has several different Zero Waste Boxes including 'Shoes & Footwear', 'Fabrics & Clothing', 'Disposable Garments', 'Disposable Masks', 'Disposable Gloves', 'Safety Equipment & Protective Gear' and 'Eyewear'. The cost of each box covers the box itself, return shipping, processing and recycling of the materials. This option may be best for a group of people to share considering the price tag.

  • If you still have some disposable masks & PPE in need of recycling, there are a few drop boxes around the city including: Manor Park Community Center accepting disposable masks (100 Thornwood Road, Ottawa), University of Ottawa Waste Diversion (including procedural masks, nitrile and latex gloves, ear plugs, safety glasses and hairnets), Participating Green Circle Salons (call ahead to inquire if they are accepting masks, gloves, caps, footwear covers and gowns from the public). *Medsup has sponsored a free recycling program of their brand (masks, nitriles etc.) but shipping is not included. You can also purchase recycling boxes from Terracyle, Vitacore and Go Zero Recycle.

  • Select Zara (including Bayshore Mall) stores have drop boxes for recycling clothes of any brand. Zara's "Clothes Collection Programme" accepts any kind of clothing, household linens, footwear, accessories, and jewelry in a sealed bag - placed in a drop box (100% cotton, wool, or polyester can be recycled into new fabric and remaining garments are converted into construction or automotive materials).

  • The Salvation Army will take both gently used and damaged clothing & textiles (including accessories like purses, belts, shoes, hats) through their Earth Stewardship program. Items deemed saleable make their way on to the sales floor to raise funds for local Salvation Army programs and services. Items not sold in store are transformed by local recyclers into industrial rags, insulation material, scrap metal to be used for cars, computers and other items. Be sure to mark your items 'to recycle' and bag separately from the sellable ones.

  • Similarly, if you find yourself in the Ontario Great Lakes region, Goodwill accepts both donations of gently used and damaged clothing, where textiles and goods that they cannot sell are directed to a large outlet, recycling and logistics hub. "With partners we are innovating in the development of fully Circular initiatives; and have launched WORTH, a remanufactured product line made from end-of-life textiles."

✓ Compost

Natural-fiber clothing can be composted as long as it isn't blended with synthetic fibres, but keep in mind that threads, tags, finishes, embellishments, etc. may not be compostable or healthy for the environment. Read more about composting clothing here.

  • Avoid non-biodegradable synthetics and blends with polyester, elastane, nylon, acrylic, polyurethane leather, rayon.

  • Remove all attachments such as zippers and buttons.

  • Finely shred items made from pure wool, cotton, silk, linen, hemp and ramie (or a blend of any of those).

4. EDUCATE YOURSELF

✓ Watch, read, listen

There are wonderful films, documentaries, books and articles written about fast fashion, ethical fashion, the true cost of garments and steps we as consumers can take to mitigate fashion's toll on our planet and demand action.

  • Check out the Ontario Textile Diversion Collaborative to learn about recycling clothing.

  • Fashion Takes Action is a Canadian based NGO with short educational videos and digital workshops on various topics (ie. sustainable fashion, spotting greenwashing).

  • Watch The True Cost to learn more about fast fashion and what cheap clothing means for those in the industry and our planet.

  • Search for one of the 17 Must-Read Sustainable and Ethical Fashion Books from good on you's reading list.

  • Listen to The Conscious Style Podcast or follow along on Instagram.

  • Check out bookhou for inspiration on visible mending and creating beautiful projects using what you have one-hand. *Arounna has written and published three books with a focus on textile design and processes: Punch Needle, Visible Mending and Embroidery as well as showcasing her many ideas and projects on Instagram.

  • Zen Stiching features online classes on sashiko, indigo dye, and bundle dyeing with nature as well as speciality workshops and resources to get started.

  • The Textile Museum of Canada offers programs, resources and recordings of past workshops featuring rope coiling, mending, bookbinding, etc.

✓ Participate

Look for local workshops and classes to learn new skills in-person.

  • Many designers and local businesses offer skill-based courses and workshops, like Nu Grocery, Laura's Shop in Merrickville and the Ottawa Garment Guild.

  • Eco Equitable offers classes to the public including beginner to advanced and special teen classes.

  • The Green Needle has sewing classes for kids and adults with a focus on sustainability and upcycling.

  • Richard Robinson offers part-time classes in the basics of sewing and fashion design.

  • Yarn Ewe'll Love has classes as well as 'project help' if you get stuck on a repair!

  • Wabi Sabi offers classes in crochet, felting and project-based.

  • Wool Tyme offers beginners and advanced classes in knitting.

  • Fabrications Ottawa has tons of beginner classes in a range of options.


The burden of sourcing where to recycle non-circular products and packaging should not be placed on the consumer. The maker / company / industry creating these products needs to take on this responsibility and be held accountable. Some companies are trying to create circularity and be transparent in every aspect of their offerings, from supply chains to packaging, moving forward let's use our collective power to support these initiatives and ask for change at the grassroots to government levels, whenever and wherever we can!


5. FUTURE WARDROBE CONSIDERATIONS

✓ Try renting

Instead of buying new, rental and lending platforms for clothing and specialty items are beginning to pop up across the globe.

  • Beyond The Runway has monthly subscription packages for designer dresses and purses (think cocktail parties, weddings, prom, special events), with free shipping across Canada.

  • The Fitzroy has virtual fitting appointments with stylists and offers single bookings for a 4-8 day period across Canada.

  • Sprout Collection has monthly subscriptions for capsule wardrobes, including maternity wear!

  • Locally, Moores and Morris Formalwear offers tuxedo and suit rental with in-store pickup and returns; and Malabar offers costume rentals (including time-period, international, careers, fantasy, movie, mascot, Holiday, Halloween, animal, Western, kingdom, licensed and unlicensed, hats and crinoline).

✓ If buying new...

Look for designers big and small who are making an effort to be more circular, including fabric choices, packaging and extended life for their creations.

  • Prioritize fashion brands and shops that upcycle, accept items back when they can no longer serve you or need repairs, and/or have a buy-back/ second-hand option: - Local kids shop The Mini Branch has a buyback guarantee. - Locally With Nini uses scrap fabric and Canadian-sourced materials to create whimsical designs. - Wyatt House makes one-of-a-kind zero waste garments out of dead stock, vintage and reclaimed materials. - Upcycled clothing by Copious is at the core of her brand (the Femme Sweater is on my wishlist!) - Fabrique Z features inclusive sizing and all creations are made in-house in Montreal. - Outerwear and workboots by Timberland are being redesigned to support circular design initiatives like Timberloop. - Toronto-based Roncy Packs incorporates circularity through repair, recycling, trade-ins and second-hand options & Preloved, also based in Toronto, creates unique and fashionable pieces from vintage and dead stock materials.

  • Try second-hand and consignment shops and support your local Canadian makers. Circle back to '2. RESELL, DONATE' for some examples. - Canadian pre-loved kids clothing shops to check out: Mini-Cycle, Thistle & Wren, Beeja May, Tetote, and locally Fabrick collective, The Mini Branch and The Thrifted Mini.


COMING SOON...

PART II: Plastic, Packaging, Personal Care


PART III: Homewares, Electronics & Hobbies


PART IV: Building Materials, Tools, Appliances & Automotive



Thank you for helping contribute to a greener Earth! For more resources on decluttering and small changes you can make in your daily lives, take a look at Surviving Chaos - A How-to Guide For Decluttering & 5 Simple Swaps to Reduce Waste & Help the Environment - for Free! As always, if you need a hand sorting / organizing / making changes in your home and wardrobe please reach out here.

コメント


bottom of page