ThredUP rewards you for cleaning out your closet while donating to those in need — here's what it's like to use
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- ThredUP is the most convenient mass upcycling program I've found for city dwellers without a car.
- ThredUP's Clean-Out Closet service lets you order a bag online, fill it up at home, and schedule a pickup or drop it off at a mailing center. They will also potentially pay you for high-end items you send in, and recycle the rest or send it back to you. It's not the most lucrative upcycling option, but a bit of money is a perk.
- There are also a few other programs that reward you for cleaning out your closet, and a few that make the process as easy as ordering a bag online, filling it up at home, and scheduling a pickup.
Despite having a type-A personality, I wouldn't call my closet particularly well-organized.
It's not for lack of trying. For the last year, I've spent more time trimming the fat — going through my small New York City closet, packing bags, and schlepping clothes in Ubers and city buses all across the city to sell or donate — than probably any other activity. It's the right thing to do from a humane and ecological perspective, but it's not always easy when you live in an urban center with no personal transportation.
Like most chores that require sweating, rolling suitcases over uneven city concrete, and occasionally pleading with God to speed up time, I started to dread the trek. And that dread led me down the rabbit hole of fantastic services that will essentially do all the legwork for you. For example, Give Back Box will email you a free shipping label to slap on any box you have in the house to send your donations to charities for free. If it looks like you have to pay for a label, just search "Give Back Box print free shipping label" on Google or simply click here. The Salvation Army will also come pick up donation boxes if you sign up for a slot online, but be prepared to wait weeks because this option is popular. A handful of companies will actually reward you for getting rid of stuff you no longer use.
But my favorite may be thredUP's donation program for its ease and benefits. You can order a clean-out kit online to be delivered to your home, fill it up with goods you want to recycle (or sell), and leave your bag for your mail carrier, schedule a USPS pickup, or drop it off at any FedEx Office or USPS location.
There are two types of thredUP clean-out kits, both of which are free.
- The Standard Clean-Out Kit means you earn cash or credit for accepted women's and kids' items in the bag. Any unaccepted items (the things thredUP wouldn't be able to sell on-site) are shipped back to you (for $10.99) or responsibly recycled, according to the company.
- The Donation Clean-Out Kit is what it sounds like. You can send in women's, men's, and kids' items. Instead of earning any money, thredUP says it will give $5 per bag on your behalf to a charity of your choice and responsibly recycle the items you send. You'll also get a tax receipt. Charities include Help a Mother Out, Big Brothers Big Sisters Foundation, and Girls Inc.
ThredUP told Business Insider that the company found charities often do not have the resources or time to sort through and distribute the clothing they receive, so the company decided to turn clothes into cash for organizations that don't normally take clothing donations. Given the amount of textile waste, it sounds good in the sense that a) people can recycle textiles responsibly and easily and b) there's an opportunity to make more useful donations to charities. And if every bag is a $5 donation rather than by pound, you could theoretically send in a few bags if your items could fit in two as easily as in one.
If you choose to do the Standard Clean-Out, it's good to know the company says that it only accepts 40% of the items in the average kit. To be accepted, they have to show no signs of wear (pilling, fading, shrinkage), damage, or alterations.
How getting paid by thredUP works
If thredUP opts to sell your item, you get a cut of the sale. According to the company, item payouts range from 5% to 80% of the listing price, and higher-end brands get you a higher percentage of the payout. Learn more here about payouts, and learn more here about selling luxury items.
It's sort of like Poshmark or eBay except you can send all of it off at once, and they take care of the actual selling: inspecting them, professionally photographing them, listing them, and shipping them.
You can also earn shopping credit at a favorite store for cleaning out your closet. If you choose partner credit as your payout option, you could earn an extra bonus for a limited time — like a 20% bonus to Amour Vert or a 15% bonus to Reformation.
How to use the Clean-Out service
To use the service, I ordered a Clean-Out kit from the site, picked it up from my mailbox, filled it with clothes, and scheduled a USPS pickup at USPS.com online. Then, since I sent in some relatively high-end items using the Standard option, I waited to see if ThredUp would list or responsibly recycle them (I chose not to have them sent back if they weren't sold).
Your kit will be processed typically within one week of being received. If you want a guarantee that it will be within one week, you can opt for it by agreeing to $16 being deducted from your earnings.
The pros and cons
ThredUP's service is convenient in the way that it offers perks and options and does the heavy lifting for you. Especially for those looking to recycle clothing en masse in an urban area (particularly if you do so regularly or without access to a car), it's a great option. You won't need to find a bag or box, and aside from the actual act of going through your closet, all the work is done by a couple of clicks online. ThredUP's program is also unique in its flexible options. You can send items to sell, opt to have them recycled or rerouted back to you if they're not accepted, or have the company donate $5 per bag to a charity if you use just their Donation Kit.
You also don't have to deal with the legwork that platforms such as Poshmark and eBay require. ThredUp takes care of the photos, the selling, and the shipping.
If you're looking to get the most money possible for high-end items, it's probably not the most lucrative option. Depending on what your local upcycling options are, you may earn more by bringing relatively high-end items to a Buffalo Exchange. Though for luxury items which fetch as much as 80% commission of the sale, thredUP may still be a contender. For me, since my focus is largely on low-maintenance recycling, earning a few bucks here or there is just a bonus.
Order a thredUP Clean-Out bag online to donate clothes now.
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