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Mary Mazzoni headshot

3p Weekend: These 10 Retailers Will Reward You For Recycling

By Mary Mazzoni

With a busy week behind you and the weekend within reach, there’s no shame in taking things a bit easy on Friday afternoon. With this in mind, every Friday TriplePundit will give you a fun, easy read on a topic you care about. So, take a break from those endless email threads and spend five minutes catching up on the latest trends in sustainability and business.

The average American produces more than 4 pounds of waste every day. And while we know recycling and reuse can cut this figure down to size, sometimes the whole thing can seem like a lot of trouble.

Sure, if you have access to curbside recycling, depositing those bottles, cans and cardboard boxes is easy as can be. But what about items that aren't recovered curbside? Recycling things like household items, clothing and electronics usually means loading up the car, driving to a drop-off location, and often suffering other indignities like annoying forms or waiting in long lines with the great unwashed.

The good news is: A growing number of retailers feel your pain. And they're responding by not only making the recycling and reuse process downright pleasant, but also by sweetening the deal with discounts, free gifts and other rewards. Read on for 10 retailers that reward you for recycling, and start cleaning out those closets this weekend.


Long reviled for its role in the fast-fashion industry and for producing what critics dubbed trash-ready garments, H&M has done a 180 as of late. The company is going all-in on sustainable cotton, is seeking to cut impact through its Conscious Collection and got real about its footprint in its latest sustainability report. Even our editor-in-chief, Jen Boynton, was pleasantly surprised with the company's turnaround after a recent visit to H&M HQ in Stockholm, Sweden.

As part of its efforts to cut down on waste, H&M now operates one of the retail industry's leading recycling programs. Bring used clothing of any brand to an H&M store for recycling, and you'll receive a coupon for your next purchase for every bag. And those duds are actually put to good use: This year, H&M launched its first line of products made from the fibers of collected garments.

Best Buy

Best Buy caught some flak earlier this year when it rolled back some aspects of its industry-leading recycling program, namely adding a $25 fee for the recycling of old TVs and monitors. But the electronics retailer still offers plenty of ways to recycle your unwanted tech, and many include rewards.

For starters, you can snag a $2 coupon for every empty ink cartridge you recycle at Best Buy, and when it's time to replace your printer, you'll receive 15 percent off a new model if you recycle your old one in the store. The retailer often offers rotating recycling rewards for certain items, so keep an eye out.

Eileen Fisher

Earth-minded fashion label Eileen Fisher is serious about waste reduction -- and that includes recovering your gently-used duds. Simply bring your unwanted Eileen Fisher attire to any retail location -- or mail it to one of two designated recycling centers -- and you'll receive a $5 reward card for each item. It's that simple. Rewards can be used online or in any Eileen Fisher store.

But the reuse train doesn't stop there. Through its Green Eileen program, the company sells those gently-used garments to other shoppers looking to save some cash or reduce environmental impact. For the largest selection of Green Eileen offerings, head to the company's Seattle or Yonkers retail locations.


If you can't get enough beauty products, this is the recycling deal for you. But be warned: It calls for some mild hoarding (we won't tell anyone).

MAC was one of the first cosmetics companies to offer a take-back program for its packaging through the Back to MAC program -- and years later, the program is still going strong. To sweeten the deal, you can snag the free MAC lipstick of your choice by recycling six packaging items (such as empty compacts or lotion bottles) at a MAC retail counter or via mail-back.


Personal anecdote: While reporting on COP21 in Paris in December, I made the most distressing discovery that can befall any tech junkie: the severed Macbook cord. After buying a replacement back in the states, I was equally unsettled that my local Apple store couldn't accept the damaged cord for recycling.

It was reassuring to learn that the tech giant does indeed recycle larger items -- and you may even get rewarded for it. Turn in any large device (ranging from an iPhone or other branded smartphone to an iPad, Macbook or even a PC), and if the item is determined to have value, you'll receive an Apple gift card in exchange. Older items like iPods aren't eligible for rewards, but you can still recycle them responsibly via Apple's mail-back program.


Much like MAC, cosmetics and skincare giant Kiehl's now also rewards customers for recycling product packaging. No hoarding here: Just bring in an empty full-sized Kiehl's product to a retail counter, and you'll receive a stamp card to keep track of your waste-cutting efforts. For every 10 stamps you earn, you can select a complimentary Kiehl’s Travel Collection product.


Denim label Madewell offers some pretty impressive perks for recycling -- and the company makes sure your trashed duds are put to good use. Through its Denim Donation program, Madewell accepts unwanted jeans and donates them to make housing insulation for Habitat for Humanity builds. Not enough feel-good vibes yet? You'll also receive $20 off a new pair of jeans for every pair you donate (limit one deal per customer, per day).

The North Face

Outdoor gear giant The North Face is transforming recycled clothes into nature conservation. Through its Clothes the Loop program, The North Face accepts and recycles used clothing and shoes -- of any brand and in any condition -- with all proceeds benefiting the Conservation Alliance, which funds community-based campaigns to protect wilderness and recreation areas. You'll also receive a coupon for your next purchase every time you donate.


Like a few other retailers on this list, Levi Strauss & Co. and its retail chain Levi's accept clothing and shoes of all brands for recycling. Through its recycling partner I:CO, clothing is sorted for resale, reuse and recycling -- ensuring nothing goes to waste. And you'll receive a voucher for 20 percent off your next in-store Levi's purchase for each donation.


Lush prides itself on selling cruelty-free, vegetarian and ethically-sourced cosmetics and skincare products. And its commitment to lighter impact extends to recycling. Through the Five-Pot Program, you can bring back any empty black Lush 'pots' for recycling, and you'll receive a Fresh Face Mask for free. Less waste and a healthy glow? Sign us up!

Did we forget your favorite retail recycling program? Tell us about it in the comments section! 

Image credit: Madewell via Instagram

Mary Mazzoni headshot

Mary has reported on sustainability and social impact for over a decade and now serves as executive editor of TriplePundit. She is also the general manager of TriplePundit's Brand Studio, which has worked with dozens of organizations on sustainability storytelling, and VP of content for TriplePundit's parent company 3BL. 

Read more stories by Mary Mazzoni