A Conscious Closet Clean Out (Part 2)- Purge Responsibly
So now, you’ve done the cleanout. You have a closet full of things you love and actually wear! Congratulations! And maybe you have a small pile of things you’re not sure about. That’s OK! Like we said before, store it temporarily, and then review it again during the next purge cycle.
But if you have the space, and think you’ll actually wear it again, then keep it! Who knows- next time you see it, you might be inspired and learn to love it after all. And to quote Will.I.Am- “Waste isn’t waste until we waste it.”
But inevitably, there ARE things you will need to get rid of.
What should you do with the things you purge?
- Take your discards and separate them into piles of “repair,” “upcycle,” “donate”, “recycle”. Can you fix that broken spaghetti strap? Can you take a stained t- shirt and tie dye it into something new? Can you cut those jeans into a pair of shorts? Reupholster furniture with denim? The goal should always be to extend the life of the garment or repurpose if possible.
- Resell any items with potential value via 2nd hand/ consignment stores/apps. Hopefully your items can be re-loved by someone else.
- Seek out clothing brands who have a take back program. Some companies are adopting a circular design process where they take back their own products to repurpose or recycle. Some will take clothing of all types.
- If you need to donate, the key is to donate as local as possible. Consider using Buy Nothing groups, local churches, or organize a swap party with friends. The more you can keep these times within the community, the more likely it is they will actually get used. Consider taking used towels and sheets to animal shelters. What about Goodwill? The ugly truth (see below) is that the majority of donations to large charity organizations still ends up in a landfill. Yikes!
- Prioritize any type of reusing and repurposing before recycling. Recycling is great but still utilizes resources like energy and water, so it should be a last resort. Find a retailer that offers a clothing recycling program. Invest in a Terracycle box.
The Dark side of purging- some hard facts we should all know:
- Donations to large charities often still end up in a landfill or incinerator. The truth is that there is only a small percentage of clothing they can resell, so the rest goes to 3rd world nations and due to sheer excess of goods, poor quality, and wrong seasonality of those items results in them going to landfills.
- The ability to “recycle” textiles is still a developing technology. Only a tiny amount of fabrics are actually recycled back into fabric. Most are actually downcycled into a lower grade material and used for things like home insulation.
- What happens to clothing in landfills? Manmade fibers like polyester are not biodegradable and will sit for centuries. Natural fibers like cotton can biodegrade, but they release methane- a greenhouse gas that is even worse than carbon dioxide.
Take away lessons? We all need to purge from time to time. Avoid throwing clothing into the trash. Repair, re-love, repurpose, and recycle where you can. But the greatest change comes from reexamining our shopping habits and rethinking what we truly need to own. Shop with Intention. Rent the rest.