De-cluttering is something we’re all doing these days. It’s something that has rapidly grown in popularity alongside the rise of minimalism and the idea of living more with less. We all know how to declutter but the next step is to figure out what to do with all the stuff that we no longer want.
Make do and mend
Yes, I’m bringing back that wartime phrase. I think the concept (although it came from the extreme circumstances of the world being at war) is actually great. The idea of making do with the clothes we already have instead of getting rid of them or even just replacing them is so much better for the environment.
It might seem old fashioned to some, but I think knowing how to do things like fix loose buttons or stitch up a loose seam is pretty useful. The Japanese have a term wabi sabi which is about celebrating imperfection. This is shown in Kintsugi, the name for repairing cracked pottery with a lacquer with gold, silver or platinum and methods of textile repair called Boro and Sashiko. It’s a great reminder that a hole in an item of clothing doesn’t mean it has to be thrown away.
However, make do and mend isn’t just about repair. It can also include amending items by doing things like adding darts to make something more fitted or shortening the hem to bring new life to an old garment.
Give them to charity
This is one of the easiest and quickest ways to get rid of clothes you no longer want. However, from my own experience volunteering in a charity shop as a teenager and documentaries I’ve seen, it’s important to consider the quality of the items you’re giving away.
Your worn out and bobby Primark tee is not going to sell. Giving poor quality items to charity wastes workers time as they have to sort through it all. Also, in some cases where clothes go to poorer countries, the garments get given to people to sell and anything that isn’t sell-able will just end up in a landfill.
Give them to family or friends
Growing up with older siblings meant that half my closet was filled with hand me downs. I’d wear my sisters’ old jeans that perhaps no longer fit her or a jacket she didn’t like the style of anymore.
Giving the clothes or accessories you no longer want to someone you know extends the life of the item. You might have a cute blouse that you rarely wear that one of your friends would love. Giving things away to people you know is also probably a little better for the environment than selling them because you can hand over the item in person rather than having it be delivered by post.
Buying and selling fashion items is something that has grown in popularity significantly over the past few years. It’s a great way to extend the life of your items whilst also making money. Plus, shopping second hand enables consumers to buy into trends for a season and then sell or re-sell them once they’re no longer interested.
However, this also comes with concerns if items end up constantly being sold.
Recycle and reuse at home
This is perhaps the least glamorous option but something still worth considering. Old clothes can be used for craft projects or be turned into cleaning cloths (which means you don’t have to buy new ones). Pinterest is probably the best place to begin if you’re looking for ideas. And even if you don’t become the person that turns old t-shirts into a woven rug, being aware of what can be done to extend the life of clothes might at least make you more considerate.
I currently either give to people I know or to charity. Although these are great options I think that sometimes they’re just ways for us to get rid of what we have so we can buy more.
Moving forward I want to be able to make do and mend as well. That might start with just replacing buttons but eventually I’d love to be able to alter and adjust my own clothes.