Tips for a sustainable wardrobe clear-out

I love a good wardrobe clear-out. I absolutely love it. Taking everything out, going piece by piece to decide if it still fits your personality and lifestyle. Over the years I’ve decluttered my wardrobe for many times, and it always left me feeling lighter and closer to who I am. So it has become a habit to do this after every season.

Yet, after several years of doing this, I found that a lot of things that I threw out are coming back in style. Something my mother warned me about when I started decluttering. She said that if you wait long enough, things come back in style and you chances are you won’t find this items in such high quality as they used to be when they first were trendy.

A good wardrobe declutter can be a very helpful tool in life to find your personal style, yet, when this becomes a habit you rely on too much it can become very wasteful. So many clothing items are thrown to landfill and this is something I got to experience when I was a little kid. In the street where I grew up there was this big storage place where they collected the clothing items that you throw in those ‘green containers’ to recycle. One day, they left the door open  and – curious as I am – I went inside and what I saw was horrific. All the clothing items where piled up to the ceiling (over 5m high) and were laying there to rot. There was no way these items could be ever worn again. This event shocked me so badly, I went home and said it to my mother. We never threw our clothing in those containers again.

There has to be a more sustainable way in how we can clear-out our closets. So today I wanted to share with you guys some tips on what to consider when you clear out your wardrobe and how to recycle your clothing. I’ve listed a few questions you can ask yourself in order to make this more ecological. If you are not sure on how to start with a good declutter, I’ve written a post about how to clear out your wardrobe, which you can find here.

Can this item be repaired/tailored?

Sometimes you don’t wear an item because it doesn’t fit well or because it has a flaw in it. The first step you can take is to take it to someone who can repair it or tailor it to your wish. A simple adjustment in the fit can make a difference in how the item falls on your body. A lot of people also throw their shoes out when they don’t look new anymore. Again, such a waste! By taking your shoes to the cobbler and adding a new heel or maybe just cleaning them with some leather grease, they can look as new again. Don’t just decide that an item isn’t right anymore when it still has so much potential.

Am I just sick of this item or do I really don’t love it?

This is many times the case with trend-items. They appear everywhere, you want them to feel on trend and after a couple of weeks you’re just tired of it, degrading it to a corner of your closet. These pieces are the first to appear in the trash, but this doesn’t have to be the case. The wise words of my mother are very true here… if you wait long enough, these items will come back in style. For instance, the shoulder-pad blazers from the ’80s, cowboy boots, leopard print everything, neon clothing,…

Be sure to ask yourself this question: if this style comes back in 10 years, will I still be able to pull it off? (considering you have the same body shape) If not, you can depart with it… but cowboy boots have been come back in and out of style for generations and anyone can pull them off, so be sure to keep these items stocked.

Have I donated a similar piece in the past and regretted this?

People tend to make the same mistakes more than once in their lifetime. That’s okay. But the least you can do is try to learn from it. That pair of denim you donated a couple of years ago but thought wasn’t you anymore – only to regret it for years to come? Well, don’t make that mistake again. Sometimes you just need a break from a piece rather than to part with it.

Can I make someone I know happy with this piece?

Recently I heard that people are hesitant to donate their clothing to family members because it would feel ‘cheap’. From what I’ve learned donating your clothing to other members of your family is very normal and sustainable. In my family we all have the same sizing and I was always so happy when my aunt would bring over a bag of clothing she wasn’t wearing anymore! Now I do the same with my nieces. A bag or dress that I’ve grown out, well, my nieces were very happy with them! Talking about a win-win situation.

How can I recycle/donate?

There are way too many garments on this planet already. That’s a fact. You have to think about how you recycle, in order to keep that certain piece away from landfill. Some organizations give these items to people in need, but people in need don’t need  so much fashionable clothing to begin with, so don’t give it to just any charity. I always recycle my clothing 1) by donating it to someone I know and 2) by giving it to the local thrift store. You could sell your items on a preloved webshop and make some money of it, but personally, for me that’s too much to follow up. So really ask yourself the question how you can recycle in the best possible way. Some shops encourage to bring in your old garments and in reward you get a discount (e.g. &OtherStories). They use the fabric to make new items from and in that way, we all win.


Photo by Svetlana Manic on Unsplash

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