Now There's a Shopping Bag That Makes It a Cinch to Recycle Old Clothes

Swedish clothing brand Uniforms for the Dedicated wants to get consumers to donate every time they make a purchase.
Jun 30, 2014·
Culture and education editor Liz Dwyer has written about race, parenting, and social justice for several national publications. She was previously education editor at Good.

There’s on old adage that if you haven’t worn an item of clothing in six months, it’s time to give it away. Yet it’s too easy to forget to clean out your closet—and besides, what if Hammer pants come back in style? That’s why Swedish menswear brand Uniforms for the Dedicated has devised a shopping bag that reminds us to get rid of one of our old possessions every time we bring home something new.

It’s called the Rag Bag, and it looks like any other plastic shopping bag that you might be handed after making a purchase at your favorite retailer. Sure, it’s cool that it’s made from a biodegradable plastic, but once you get the bag home, don’t go tossing it in your recycling bin. As you can see in the above video, when you turn the Rag Bag inside out, it morphs into a prepaid mailing envelope.

Here’s where getting rid of your old clothing comes in: Simply place an old shirt or pair of pants inside, seal up the envelope, and drop it in the mailbox. The item is then whisked away to a charity that will ensure the donation ends up with someone who really needs it.

Along with designing clothes that won’t fall apart after five whirls in a washing machine, the fashion label realized that consumers in developed nations often have too many clothes, while people living in poorer parts of the world have too few. Stockholm-based advertising company DDB designed the bag to fit the brand’s ethos. The label “stands for sustainability and social responsibility, and set the standard for the rest of the Swedish fashion world,” the ad agency wrote when entering the bag in the 2014 Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, which was held last week.

Just because it’s called a Rag Bag doesn’t mean you should put tattered shirts and pants inside. The company hopes consumers will recycle clothing that’s clean and still in good condition. Whether you want to curse somebody with your old Hammer pants is up to you.