Closet Cleanout – clothing recycling fundraiser

Aussies buy twice the global average of new clothes and shoes every year and we are also one of the biggest fashion wasters in the world. How often do you pack up bags of unwanted clothing and leave them in the nearest charity bin? It feels good decluttering your cupboards, but did you know those unwanted t-shirts and sheets could be used to raise money for your school or club?

In a nutshell

Fundraising idea: clothing drive that pays for unwanted clothes, shoes and sheets

Suitable for: schools, playgroups, sports clubs

Profit: 20-25 cents per kilogram

Currently this fundraiser is only available in Melbourne and Adelaide, but keep an eye on the website as more cities and states are brought onboard.

What is a Closet Cleanout?

Closet Cleanout is a new type of fundraiser – one that raises money for your school, provides much needed funds for charity (Red Nose) and also encourages families to donate unwanted clothes and Manchester items that are often just cluttering up the house.

Once a drive is booked (via email or phone), bags are delivered which can be handed out to families. Typically one bag is provided to every family in the school, but you can also use garbage or shopper bags if required. There is no limit to how many bags you can collect.

Promotional materials will also be provided so you can explain to families and the community how the clothing drive will work.

Families are then asked to fill the bags with unwanted goods and return them to the school for collection. The bags are weighed and the school notified of how much they have earned within a week, and will receive the money within a month.

The donations are then used to help provide families in need with low-cost clothing and bedding, and the money raised used by Red Nose to fund their SIDS and Kids safe sleeping campaigns.

What can be collected?

Clean clothing with no stains or tears (adults and children).

Paired shoes

Hats and handbags

Towels, sheets and pillowcases

Blankets and doona covers

Fabric and curtains

All items must be clean and in good condition

What can’t be collected?

Clothing that is dirty, torn or unwearable

Hard toys, games and books

Doonas or pillows


Household goods

How much can you raise?

A standalone Closet Cleanout will earn you 20c for each kilogram of clothing, shoes and Manchester collected. If you book two or more drives in a 12-month period, then the Bonus rate of 25 cents per kilo applies.

A Closet Cleanout is unlikely to be an enormous money earner for your school. Recent drives at Somerville Primary and Bittern Primary, collected 600kg and 300kg respectively, bringing the schools $150 and $75 each. However recently, Closet Cleanout reports a school and two Calisthenics clubs each collected almost a tonne of clothing, which is a fantastic result.

However, the primary goal of a Closet Cleanout is not the funds raised, but the host of other benefits it provides – it is both socially and environmentally friendly, it benefits charity as well as the school, it promotes awareness raising, it declutters the house and supports schools focussing on sustainability and waste reduction.

Schools wishing to run a Closet Cleanout as part of a social science or sustainability exercise can opt to have the fundraising money to be redirected back to Red Nose or another charity of their choice.

Ideas to increase your donations

Holding a fete? Closet Cleanout will collect left over bric-a-brac and clothing from your second-hand stall and pay you per kg for any clothing. This is a great option if you don’t want the hassle of deciding what to do with unsold stock.

Approach your local swap-meet and ask if you can advertise your Closet Cleanout to all stallholders. People may be happy to donate all their unsold clothing and shoes to the local school/sports club, rather than take it all home again, or having to drive to the nearest charity bin. Print small handouts explaining your fundraiser and give them to each stall-holder who is selling clothes/manchester at the beginning of the morning. Then during the morning, return to each stall and ask if they would be interested in donating their unsold stock. Leave bags with those people who agree and arrange a time before the market ends for you to come along and collect the bags. Make sure you have plenty of volunteers with adequate boot space to drive all the bags home. Encourage the kids to wear their school/club uniforms and make sure that an adult accompanies them as they approach stall holders.

Advertise in your local newspaper or on the community board that the drive will be taking place, and ask community members to bring along bags to the school/club (make sure you have a clear drop-off point and perhaps consider having specific times, with someone on duty so you can make sure people are donating only the required goods.)

Things to Consider

This is a zero cost fundraiser and requires minimal time and effort. Once the drive is advertised and the bags distributed, all that is required is a safe, dry space to store the bags of donations until they are collected. This could be an unused classroom or storeroom or even a corner of the assembly area so that every day the students and families can see the pile of donations grow. Alternatively, if space at your school/club is limited, have a single drop-off time, perhaps one afternoon after school or a Saturday and pair it with a sausage sizzle (more fundraising!).

Melbourne schools with no space for storage can request a wheelie bin that can be emptied on demand. Please note there is a waiting list for this option.

Encourage people to donate unwanted sheets and towels, as these are heavy items that would quickly increase the total weight and therefore, the amount of money raised.

Collection bins can also be arranged if storing lots of bags becomes difficult.

Author: Shannon Meyerkort

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