bra recycling

Bra Recycling – How To Recycle Your Undies

bra recycling - how to recycle old bras

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, where I live, 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.

how to recycle your bras

Notwithstanding the health and hygiene problems a lack of underwear offers, but 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.  And something I was certainly completely 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?

You can post your gently worn unwanted bras to:

Smalls For All

108 Buchanan Crescent



West Lothian

EH54 7EF

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 a poster 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!

I’m not sponsored by Smalls For All, I just wanted to share the bra recycling and reuse love during Zero Waste Week, for which I’m proud to be a blogging ambassador.


  1. Wendy, this gave us a great idea for my business. I could make a marketing campaign and collect all of the unwanted bras for free. Thank you very much Wendy.

  2. Thanks so much for bringing this to my attention! I have so many unused bras at home (currently travelling so I’m obviously not using them) and would have pondered donating them but this seems like an awesome solution. Great post :)

  3. My partner & I will be moving soon & I have loads of old bra’s that I haven’t had the heart to throw away in the hopes that they might be of some use to someone for something one day.. I have jotted the address down & will be posting them out soon.

  4. I am so happy to have found a home for some hardly worn but pretty bras which don’t fit anymore. Retrieved one from the bedroom bin this morning after I heard an article on radio 4 about bras for a charity going astray in Africa – good timing. There’s plenty more I’m now happy to part company with. Will get parcel in post – and will pass on the word to my girl friends

  5. Hello Wendy,
    Like Sophie I have many unused bras at home. I discussed this with my friends we was think about something similar but you have a better idea I must admit. I’m very happy that you shared it with us!
    Thank you! Have a nice summer!

  6. I am glad that there are campaigns like this and I will definitely send my unused bras. This is really a great way not only to help people in need, but to reduce the waste of materials around the world.
    Thank you for sharing this! :)

  7. What a wonderful idea.I have many barely worn and unworn bras and am delighted to think they will help someone.Will def pass on this site to friends-many of whom feel the same.Well done.

  8. Have you also heard about Sals Shoes? They are a charity that will happily take and redistribute used school shoes, kids wellies, trainers, sparkly shoes etc to kids of Africa. Some schools won’t allow children to go to school without a pair of shoes and as kids feet grow so fast, I know our kids shoes would definitely be welcomed!

  9. Great idea, but I have a problem! I used to collect old bras form the members of my exercise classes for Hampshire Air Ambulance.. bras for Africa. Unfortunately, they no longer do this and I now have a LARGE, and rather heavy bag of bras! Obviously, it would be VERY costly to post them or pay for them to be delivered to you.
    Perhaps I’ll have to ask the local Oxfam shop, unless you have any other ideas??


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