6 Ways To Declutter Your Clothes Without Harming The Environment

Decluttering your clothing can feel really satisfying and cleansing in your wardrobe, but have you ever considered the environmental impact you might have by getting rid of your clothes? It can feel easy to just throw your old things away in the rubbish, but that isn't the most environmentally responsible way to remove unwanted clothing from your home.

I know that the world of recycling and waste can be quite intimidating, which is why I partially understand that some people just throw things in the bin. So to make your decision easier, I have come up with 6 ways to get rid of your clothing, other than just throwing them in the bin!

aesthetic clothing on bed, decluttering

The 'easy' option is to donate them to a charity shop, but that isn't completely environmentally friendly. Yes, there is a good chance that your clothes will be sold on and worn by someone else. though there is also a chance that your clothes will be discarded-of by the charity to landfill. If your clothing is of good quality and is likely to be sold by the charity shop, then definitely go ahead and donate! I suggest you ring up before giving them another bag, to see if they are short of donations or not. Sometimes charity shops get overwhelming amounts of clothing donations, and can therefore be pickier with what they choose to sell. Donate to a shop that is in need of donations!

I'm aware that some charity shops will send unusable clothes to material recycling (I used to work in an Oxfam and this is what they did), but I'm sure not all charity shops are as responsible with their waste. In the UK, £140 million worth of clothing goes to landfill each year. Which is bad enough. In addition to this, the UK exports £342 million worth of second hand clothing, to countries mostly in Africa. Your first thought may be "my old clothes are being sent to a country where people need it", but there are still clothes discarded irresponsibily at the end of the sorting process. I think it is important we are careful about where we send our old clothes, as an intended good deed may result in a negative impact on our planet.

There are a few different ways you can responsibly get rid of your old clothes: 

1. Sell your clothes online - some apps include Depop, Vinted, eBay, or even on your Instagram stories to your followers. It is more time consuming, but it means you know that your clothes are going to be worn by someone else, extending its lifetime. In a few weeks I will be posting about how I've sold over 200 items on Depop, as I'd consider myself well-practiced in reselling clothes now!

ebay logovinted logo
depop logo
2. Ask your friends and family if they want them - give your loved ones the chance to grab some free clothes! In the same way as selling, you will know that the items are being loved and worn, and the bonus of knowing the new owner is that you get to see how they style the items!

big sister swap logo

3. Clothing swaps - search on Facebook for a local clothing swap, you can even do clothing swaps on Depop or online. You get new clothes too! This option may be best if you feel like your style has changed, and you'd want to buy more clothes to replace the ones you have gotten rid of. You can simply swap out the clothes that don't suit you anymore, and receive new items that fit your new style! Some websites I found that now do online clothing swaps include: Big Sister Swap, Swopped and Swancy, which I haven't tried yet but have heard good things about on social media! You can also swap on Vinted and Depop, try messaging a seller to see if they would be up for it!

swopped logoswancy logo

list of items a material recycling takes 
4. Take your clothes to material recycling - if an item is beyond repair or has a horrendous stain on it, then I suggest you take it to your local recycling centre yourself. Usually they have a dedicated bin for material recycling, but you can check on your local council's website to see what kind of things they take to be recycled. Here is my local council's page shown on the right, and they take clothes, which is what you want to look for! Material recycling on this scale usually turns the scraps into rags for factories or is shredded up and used for insulation/stuffing for pillows etc.. Don't just shove it in the charity bag for someone else to deal with. Be responsible and recycle it yourself.

5. Reuse the material in your home - cut up the scrap fabric and use it to stuff a pillow or as dusting cloths. You could also use them as cleaning cloths in the kitchen, washing them after they get dirty. Reuse the scrap material for other uses in your home before recycling them when they are beyond use. I also found a useful tutorial on making reusable kitchen towels which may be helpful!

6. Make accessories out of the material - I love to make scrunchies from old clothing that no longer fits me or is broken. My friend Eleanor has a great tutorial on how to make scrunchies if you have never made one before, I recommend you check that post out! You could also use the material to upcycle your current clothes - patches on jeans, adding detailing.

diy scrunchies flatlay

Hopefully that was useful for you! Next time you choose to declutter your closet, you can responsibly get rid of your clothes, without adding to the global fashion problem! The main tip I would suggest to you, is to LOVE the clothes you own, and be really selective when you are buying new clothes. If decluttering your wardrobe has become a bit of a regular thing for you, that may be a sign that you are just buying stuff you don't need. Or you may be letting the fast fashion trends dictate what you should be loving or not wearing anymore.

Mindful consumption reduces your waste! Be aware of what comes into your wardrobe, that way you won't have to declutter constantly to feel organised and clean.

 RELATED: Minimalism For Beginners and FREE 14 Day Challenge PDF

How do you usually get rid of old clothes? What is your chosen method?

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