Ladies, I’m sure we can agree that underwear recycling, particularly bra recycling is a difficult issue. Did you know you’re supposed to be measured for a bra every 6 months to ensure you’re wearing the correct size? I once got measured after a prolonged break and found out I was wearing the completely wrong sized bra. Right enough, the correct sized bra was a huge improvement, but it left me with a drawer full of gently used bras that I had no idea what to do with.
And again, when I was pregnant with my daughter, my correctly sized bras quickly became ill-fitting. I saved them until after I had my daughter and finished breastfeeding, but by then my shape had changed so much I had to buy new bras. Again, a drawer full of gently used bras that no longer fitted but were by no means at the end of their life cycle.
So what do you do with old bras? Sell them on eBay? Donate to the charity shop? But who wants to buy used bras? I’m happy to buy most things secondhand, but secondhand underwear is one area that personally gives me the shivers. Textile recycling? There’s so little fabric on bras that is it even worth recycling them in textile banks? Put them in the bin? Bras aren’t cheap to buy and it seems a terrible waste to send them to landfill.
Bra Recycling – What Can You Do?
I was a bit stumped on bra recycling until my friend Gina shared news on Facebook about an amazing charity based in West Lothian that specialises in bra recycling. Smalls for All takes in gently used bras, as well as new bras and pants from all over the UK, and sends them to vulnerable girls and women in Africa.
Maria Macnamara, the founder of Smalls for All started the charity after speaking to a priest, whilst volunteering in Ethiopian orphanages. Maria was looking to be able to help out in a more sustainable longer term way, rather than volunteering for a few weeks at a time. The priest spoke to Maria about the lack of underwear and the problems this can cause women.
Having a lack of underwear offers health and hygiene problems. But not just that. If girls are lucky enough to attend school, then they regularly need to be off school for several days every month simply because they don’t own knickers.
Something I was also in the dark about is that in these African communities underwear is often seen as a status symbol and offers a degree of security. Women who can afford underwear tend to be seen as having someone who cares for them – a husband, brother or father. They are not on their own so they are not seen as vulnerable. Women without underwear are seen as vulnerable, and so owning underwear actually helps prevent the rape of young girls.
This led Maria to coming up with the fantastic idea of bra recycling as that long term method of help. Who knew that the bras you no longer wear could make such potentially life changing difference to someone’s life? Can you imagine how much joy in receiving a package of bras would bring to these women and girls?
Where to Send Your Bras for Recycling
You can post your gently worn unwanted bras to:
Smalls For All
108 Buchanan Crescent
As well as gently worn bras, you can also send your old bras for fabric recycling as the proceeds of this go towards helping get the bras and pants to Africa. Smalls for All also gladly accept new and unworn pants in girls sizes age 3-15 years and ladies UK sizes 8-16.
If you’d like to set up a collection point in your local community then you can download posters for your workplace, sports club, school, etc. You can also donate money if you’d prefer, and you can connect with Smalls for All via Facebook and Twitter.
So Smalls for All, great for bra recycling and a fantastic and easy way for women to help other women in need! Make sure you let all of your friends know!
ps: My guide to ethical undewear might be useful if you’re looking to update your bras!