If you are one of the troops or have a family member at home who is one, you likely have several uniforms in your hands you want to get rid of immediately. Well, you have five choices — either you donate, sell, dispose of, repurpose, or maybe preserve them for keepsakes.
Depending on your situation, one of these five methods can be suitable for you. Keep reading this article to generate ideas on what to do with old military uniforms.
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5 Tips on What to Do with Old Military Uniforms
Donating old uniforms is at the top of our list for ethical reasons. We do not encourage you to dispose of old military uniforms by throwing them in bins, as most MSW fabrics do not get recycled. EPA’s studies found that in 2018, there were 11.3 million tons of textile dumped in landfills.
So, in our opinion, the best way to get rid of your old military uniforms is to donate them. There are many types of facilities and organizations that accept them. However, one reminder before donating old uniforms is to remove any patches and insignias with names, ranks, and logos.
If the uniforms are still decent and wearable, you can donate them to military organizations like the ROTC, where cadets can wear them for training. Some take even worn-out ones so that they can rip and utilize them during simulations and drills.
Most thrift stores accept old military uniforms. But it is best if you consider donating in one located near a base camp or an exclusive military thrift store. Some troops purchase second-hand uniforms for back-ups.
Private companies and shops
There are shops that accept used uniforms, gears, and paraphernalia to incorporate the materials or repurpose them into new products, which they will sell after. Most of these companies ensure that a part of their profits goes to foundations that support veterans.
You can also donate old military uniforms to organizations that distribute them to members who need them. There are also non profit organizations that store uniforms as part of a collection that will then be exhibited in the future, like VFW or the Veterans of Foreign Wars.
Several historical museums like the Museum of American G.I. and the National World War II Museum constantly accept military uniforms and other items that they can use for their exhibits.
Other public institutions and organizations
Lastly, you can always choose to donate military uniforms to schools or local theater groups that need them for costumes.
If you think they are too valuable to donate and want to make money off of them, there are places where you can sell old military uniforms. This is another environmentally-friendly way to get rid of your uniforms.
Nowadays, there are several military surplus stores that buy old uniforms and other tactical gear to resell them. Their purpose is to cater to members of the troops who want to purchase second-hand items to save money as new kits and equipment can be expensive.
You can negotiate the price, but it primarily depends on the general condition of the uniform, branch of service, size, etc. When you are transacting online, you may need to provide photos as proof.
Again, do not forget to remove any insignias before selling old military uniforms.
Now all you need to do is find a legitimate and reliable military surplus buyer. With several options, it would help if you look into a couple of them and try to compare offers. You should also check if they are credible and have a good reputation.
If you are a bit crafty or creative, or even if you are not, you can always consider repurposing used uniforms.
In San Antonio, Texas, one individual stepped up the game and decided to turn old military uniforms into wreaths. Staff Sergeant Nicole Pompei went viral after her business of repurposing the uniforms into military wreaths boomed last December 2020.
If you have time in your hands, you can do it too. It is not even limited to decorative items only. You can also turn these used uniforms into functional items like bags and wallets or even revamp them to wearable pieces of clothing.
However, when wearing them, look into the regulations your branch of service or military institution has imposed about them.
You can easily find tutorials on YouTube that teach you how to turn and transform fabric scraps into different items. Consider this as hitting two birds with one stone as you can get rid of your old military uniforms ethically while still getting some use out of them.
4. Consider preserving
One method that may not have crossed your mind yet is preserving the uniforms. Your old uniform is always a good reminder that you have served the country and commemorate all the hardships you have gone through.
To properly preserve the fabric, you should talk to an expert. However, you can always start by having it dry cleaned accordingly, depending on the type of textile. Military uniforms are commonly made from either khaki, wool, cotton, and sometimes synthetic fabrics like nylon.
Inspect the uniform for any holes and tears to see what you can mend. Again, if you do not have any idea how to do this, have it done professionally.
In addition to the uniform, you can also add all the medals, ribbons, and badges you received in the duration of your service. Just properly wipe and clean them, so they become shiny as new.
And to ensure that it lays flat and won’t have any creases, purchase the correct size of the shadow box. It serves as a frame that protects the fabric while displayed.
However, after securing the fabric and sealing the box, proper placement of the shadow box inside your home is crucial to maintaining the uniform’s integrity.
You can hang it up or prop it on a shelf, but make sure that it is in an area out of direct sunlight and moisture. It should also be consistently cleaned of dust particles to prevent it from quickly getting damaged.
Of course, if nothing above appeals to you, we cannot stop you from disposing of old military uniforms by throwing them away. However, before doing so, ensure that you have read your institution’s guidelines on whether dumping it in the garbage is allowed.
As always, check it for any patches and nameplates still attached. You can also rip or cut it before throwing it out to ensure that no one gets to wear it again. There are also programs that can shred your fabrics and dispose of them for you.
Burning it is also an option, but it may not be the best as far as ethical and eco-friendly concerns go. So, before you make up your mind, review your choices again.
You can always make money when you sell used military uniforms. Plus, a trip to the nearest textile disposal program is only one car ride away. Or maybe do the kind act of donating uniforms to organizations in need of them.
A member of the Armed Forces can accumulate several uniforms, especially with multiple types that they have to wear on different occasions. One way or another, you have to get rid of them at some point so they’re no longer stored and taking up space in your closet.
Whether you have to do it today or in the future, knowing your options on what to do with old military uniforms helps ease the process of getting them out of your hands.