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6 Eco-Friendly Ways to Expand the Lifespan of Used Bras

Article Title with picture of a lot of used bras hanging on a fence

Whether your bra is a little worn, you no longer like the style, or you got some new bras and now have too many, there are several reasons you might want to get rid of your old bras. While your first instinct might be to add them to the pile of trash you plan to take out tomorrow afternoon, a little effort and creativity can help you pursue a zero-waste option, transforming your old bras into something amazing.

Let’s take a look at a few ways you can use your bra to positively impact others’ lives and protect the earth, from donating to composting to upcycling.

Donate Your Bra

Typewriter that says "donations" on the paper coming out of it.

There are several charitable organizations that would be happy to take your used bras and use them to make a difference. Here are a few great options if you’re wondering where you can send your bras to ensure they make a positive impact.

  • I Support the Girls. This organization collects menstrual hygiene products, bras (new and lightly used), and underwear and distributes them to women experiencing homelessness. It is committed to helping women everywhere maintain their personal health and dignity.
  • Free the Girls. This organization equips women who have escaped or been rescued from sex trafficking with the necessary tools to make a livable wage selling bras. It collects bra donations and gives them to women to sell so that they can achieve financial freedom.
  • The Bra Recyclers. This clothing recycling company is dedicated to expanding the lifespan of used articles of clothing to minimize textile waste. They send lightly used bras to partner organizations for distribution and they recycle bras that are no longer in good enough condition to be worn.

Compost Your Bra

Hands holding dirt for composting

Another great way to keep your bra from ending up in a landfill is composting it. Of course, this technique only applies to bras made of natural materials such as cotton, silk, or wool. Be sure to remove your bra’s elastic strap ahead of time, as elastic isn’t biodegradable.

Once all you have left is natural fabric, you’ll want to cut your bra up into several pieces. This will help it compost faster, whether you’re using a composting bin or just spreading it out over soil.

Trade Your Bra

If you aren’t a fan of the style of a bra you bought or the way it fits, there’s probably someone out there who would appreciate it. If asking friends and family if they’d like to do a bra swap doesn’t go as planned, consider turning to online communities.
Reddit is a great place to find people interested in swapping bras. Explore the subreddits r/braswap and r/RandomActsofBras to see if anyone would like to take your used bra off your hands. Who knows – you might even find a great replacement through a swap!

Upcycle Your Bra

Sewing machine sewing yellow fabric

Perhaps the most fun eco-friendly way to make use of your old bra is to upcycle it. Upcycling entails coming up with a creative way to repurpose your bra. Since it can be difficult to brainstorm ideas on the spot, here are a few to get you inspired.

1. Make a Bag

Believe it or not, bras can be transformed into great small purses. With the help of some scissors and hot glue, you can create a compartment out of your bra cups that will hold all your necessities for a day out. Look up a video tutorial on how it’s done to make it as easy and fun as possible.

2. Make Shoe Inserts

Just because you’re finished using an old bra doesn’t mean you can’t use its components to make something practical. Bra padding is designed to be soft and comfortable, making it perfect for adding some extra padding to uncomfortable shoes. Consider cutting your bra’s padding out and shaping it to fit that nice pair of shoes that are just a bit uncomfortable.

3. Add the Cups to Another Top

Everyone has a swimsuit or dress that they enjoy wearing but could use a bit more padding. If your bra is still in great condition when you’re considering tossing it, you can remove the cups and stitch them onto one of your other tops.

By now it should be clear that throwing away your old bra is far from your only option once it starts to feel a bit worn. All it takes is some exploration and creativity to realize that a bra has so much potential to better your life, the lives of others, and the planet.

If you enjoyed the ideas above, check out Tommy John’s visual below to learn more about the need for bra recycling as well as a checklist for composting or recycling your bra.

Infographic explaining the importance of donating, recycling and reusing old bras

Author Bio

Luke Strauss is a content creator at Siege Media who develops helpful and compelling content for Tommy John. His passion for digital marketing and creative writing has led him to cover unique topics ranging from business to wellness to green living. Tommy John seeks opportunities to spread the word about textile waste reduction opportunities and eco-friendly alternatives to everyday clothing-related activities wherever possible (for example, see Tommy John’s post on eco-friendly ways to disinfect clothing). You can read more about the brand’s commitment to high ethical standards here.