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Why This Woman Wants Your Old Clothes

How RCYCL founder Belinda Paul saves unusable textiles from landfill – and helps them find a second life

By Felicity Robinson

It’s an oft-repeated fact that a huge amount of clothing ends up in landfill each year (23 kilograms per person, to be precise), but what’s harder to know is exactly what to do with all these unwanted pieces. Sure, some of our old shirts and tops might be good enough to go to op-shops, but what about those raggedy pieces too worn to be resold?

RCYCL founder Belinda Paul has a solution: you can purchase one of her business’s fully compostable bags online, fill it with your old clothes, and drop it off at your nearest Sendle location. Her award-winning circular fashion business will take care of the rest. 


What about those pieces too worn to be resold?

“We’ve partnered with an Australian recycling company that recycles the textiles we receive into new yarn or carpet underlay,” says Belinda. “We’re the conduit between the consumer and the recycler, and we offer a simple solution to the problem of recycling those clothes that aren’t good enough to be resold. Australia is embarrassingly behind in our sustainability initiatives and a lot of brands and consumers feel daunted by sustainability issues. This is one way to help.”

Since launching in 2022, Belinda has bootstrapped the business. Its potential to scale was recognised this week by eBay’s 2024 Circular Fashion Fund, which awarded RCYCL a $50,000 grant. Obviously thrilled, Belinda describes it as a “gamechanger”. 

“The grant will enable me to engage professional marketing and brand experts to really ready RCYCL for scale. It’s a real pinch-me moment.”

So, what was the moment that changed everything?
“In the summer of 2020, my family and I were holidaying on the New South Wales south coast when the bushfires hit. I remember standing on the beach and seeing the approaching inferno, and it was really traumatic. The family next to us had lost everything. The town along from ours had been destroyed.

Afterwards, I spent a lot of time thinking about what I could do to make a positive impact on our environment. I completed a course in sustainability and started wondering about how I could use my skills in retail, and bringing products to market, to create a product that could improve our sustainability. That’s how RCYCL was born.”



What’s a moment that made it all worthwhile?
“Launching the brand at Melbourne Fashion Week was amazing. I was asked to speak on an Australian Fashion Council panel, which was a real pinch-me moment. Having a lovely working relationship with an organisation of authority and credibility really gives me the validation to push on through those hard days. 

Also, when brands come on board to say, yes, we’ll offer your bags at point of sale, or we’ll include them as a stock item – it makes you feel that people believe in the business.”

What do you do when you’re not running RCYCL?
“I love spending time with my family – we love being in nature, my two children do lots of sport. But also work is pretty all-encompassing at the moment and that’s ok. It’s good for the children to see that if you want to succeed, you need that strong work ethic.”

Please finish this sentence: Nothing feels as good as…
“Creating the impact that you’ve visualised. I have butterflies in my stomach every day because I can’t believe the journey I’m on with this business – it’s such an amazing adventure.”


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BY Felicity Robinson

Felicity is PRIMER's co-founder

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