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Reader question: Where can I donate used clothes and books in Italy?

The Local Italy
The Local Italy - [email protected] • 26 Jan, 2023 Updated Thu 26 Jan 2023 09:01 CEST
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Where can you donate used clothes in Italy? Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP).

If you come from a country with charity shops or thrift stores on every corner, it can be hard to figure out what to do with your used items in Italy. Here's where to start.


Question: I've been trying to find an organisation in Italy through which I can donate second-hand clothing, books, dishes, and small items of furniture. Do you have any suggestions?

Italy doesn't have the same systems for donating used items that you might be used to if you've moved here from North America or the UK.

While vintage clothing shops and flea markets do exist, they're not quite the same thing as charity shops or thrift stores that will accept your second-hand goods and sell them on to raise money for good causes.

That means you have to be a bit more creative when it comes to giving away used items in Italy - but it doesn't mean there aren't options available.


We've compiled a list of some of the best charity shop alternatives in Italy: here's where to start.

General items:


One of the first places people turn to when they want to pass on used items in Italy is the mercati dell'usato or mercatini. These second-hand markets tend to be permanent structures, often located in converted underground garages. 

They'll accept used clothes, shoes and accessories, items of furniture, jewellery, kitchenware, appliances, books, records and artwork.

Mercatino Franchising is one of the main second-hand market chains; as the name implies, each mercatino is operated as an independent franchise, so you'll have a slightly different experience depending on where you go.

READ ALSO: ‘How our shopping habits have changed since we moved from the US’

To get started, you simply need to register as a member and go in whenever you have an item to donate. Some mercatini are more picky than others, so you may need to visit several if you want to offload most of your goods.

These places operate on a for-profit rather than charitable basis; half the money from each sale will go to the market, and half to you.

You can sell (and buy) all sorts of used items at an Italian mercatino.

You can sell (and buy) all sorts of used items at an Italian mercatino. Photo by Darya Tryfanava on Unsplash

Clothing and accessories:


The sustainable development charity Humana welcomes donations via its clothing bins, which are distributed in 1,000 town and cities across Italy.

To find the nearest collection point to you, simply type your address into the search engine on the website.

The organisation accepts clothing, shoes, bags, accessories, and linens; donations should be packed in tightly closed bags.


Some of the items are resold in Humana Vintage clothing shops in Italy; others are donated to other countries, and worn-out fabrics are recycled or used as an energy source.

H&M collection scheme 

H&M has been running a scheme since 2013 that allows you to drop off used clothing in their stores.

The company says it accepts garments and textiles in any state of wear and from any brand; items in a good condition will be sold on, others recycled and used for their 'Conscious Collection', turned into cleaning rags, or shredded and used to make insulation materials.

Just ask to drop your bag of clothing off at one of the checkout tills in the H&M store nearest to you. You should receive €5 credit to use for future purchases.

It's worth noting that the scheme has been criticised for encouraging consumers to continue participating in disposable fast fashion practices, so you may want to bear this in mind when considering whether to use your H&M store credit.

H&M accepts used garments and fabrics.

H&M accepts used garments and fabrics. Photo by Cooper Neill / Getty Images via AFP.

Municipal clothing bins

If none of the options above are available in your area, there's always municipal clothing bins... but you'll want to use these with caution.


These large, (usually) yellow containers can be found all over towns and cities throughout the country, and can be used to deposit clothing, shoes, accessories, and household fabrics.

In theory these clothes are then donated to the poor or sold second hand, with the proceeds going to charity.

However a series of investigations over the past few years have found that most of the profit in fact ends up being funnelled to organised crime syndicates, in particular the Camorra mafia.

In 2019, the president of Italy's Ecomafia Commission told investigative journalists from the TV show Le Iene that the scheme generates around €200 million each year, with just one percent going to charity.


Il Libraccio

Not sure what to do with the books you no longer want?

Il Libraccio will not only buy them from you, but will even collect them free of charge.


To begin, you just need to enter your book's ISBN code (an internationally applicable unique book identifier) to see whether they're interested in buying.

If so, they'll pick up your book and pay you by bank transfer, paypal or in site credit so you can buy other books from the site.

What can you do with your used books in Italy?

What can you do with your used books in Italy? Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash


If the sharing economy's more your thing, consider the book-swapping platform Acciobooks.

Start by creating a profile and making a list of the books you no longer want, then search for books you do.

Contact the owner and if they're interested in one of your books, you can agree to an exchange.

Once you've set up a trade, simply package and send your book in the post using the 'Piego di libri' shipping method, which is specifically designed for sending books (ask to use 'piego di libri' at the post office), and wait for yours to arrive.

Do you know of any other options for people wanting to give away used items in Italy? Let us know here.



The Local Italy 2023/01/26 09:01

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