Consignment shops and thrift stores provide a second home for clothes and accessories that no longer fit or aren’t quite your style anymore. But what about those odd items in closets and dressers that seem destined for the garbage can? There’s even hope for worn-out shoes and used socks – even one sock. You would be surprised at what you can do with things you swore no one would ever want.

Yes, it’s easier to toss them into the wastebasket, but we want to give you an option that might slow down the need for more landfills. Here are some ways to give your well-used – and well-loved – fashion finds a second life.

LONE SOCKS: So, you think no one would ever want an unmatched, single sock? Think again. Fill it with catnip and knot the ends for a new kitty toy. Ball up socks or knot them together to make a dog happy. No pets but feeling creative? Make sock puppets and donate them to a nearby preschool.

HOTEL MINIS AND MAKEUP FREEBIES: Do you have a collection of never-used makeup that was a gift-with-purchase item? Perhaps it’s the wrong shade or a product you just won’t ever use. And what about all those tiny soaps and shampoos we bring home from hotels just because they were free? You can give them to women’s centers and homeless shelters. Consider places such as Career Closet (, which helps women get back into the job market after a setback by giving them gently used professional clothing. It takes unused beauty products, too.

OLD ATHLETIC SHOES: Your trusty tennies are worn, torn and falling apart. But they’re still good enough for Nike’s "reuse-a-shoe" program. Old athletic shoes of any brand are ground up and molded into tennis and basketball courts, tracks and playgrounds. Read more about the program and find drop-off locations at

GLASSES: Most of us have glasses with old prescriptions or outdated frames – backups in case the new ones break. But after a few years, we have a basket of old glasses. Give them a new face to sit on by donating them to the Lions Club International, known for its focus on vision care and the eyeglass recycling program. The organization cleans, repairs and sorts the glasses by prescription and distributes them to developing countries.

And don’t forget those sunglasses. The group needs those, too. Search for donation locations, or drop them off at any LensCrafters or Goodwill store or American Optometric Association office.

OLD T-SHIRTS: Do you have countless festival tees piling up in your closet? Faded T-shirts clogging your drawers? Start using them as dusters, rags and faux-finish paintbrushes. HGTV suggests cutting them into squares and using them as baby wipes. Just add water. But if you just can’t take the idea of your favorite shirt cleaning up a baby’s mess, there are other alternatives. Make pillows or quilts, using the art as the central image. Braid torn strips into rag rugs.

© 2005, San Jose Mercury News (San Jose, Calif.).

Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.