OK, so it’s spring. Or, allegedly, it’s spring, even though it snowed today. EVENTUALLY it will finally get warmer, and that means It’s time to swap out that wardrobe – pack up the boots and sweaters and shove them to the back of the closet, and pull out the shorts and flip-flops that have been collecting dust all winter. And as you’re doing it, you stumble upon quite a few of those phantom pieces that seem to always be lurking around. There are sweaters you didn’t wear all winter. There are shorts that you’re quite certain you won’t be wearing again this spring. There’s that ridiculous bridesmaid dress or seersucker suit that you just don’t quite have room for anymore.
Throwing away clothing and household goods that are still usable is one of my big pet peeves. Did you know it takes 400 gallons of water to make a cotton t-shirt, and nearly 1800 to make a pair of jeans? (And god only knows how many to make a pair of gold metallic harem pants, although in that cast, it was probably worth it.) And that’s not to mention the intensive land use that goes into growing the raw materials for textiles and dyes. There are plenty of ways that you can reuse your old clothes rather than throwing them away. Before you grab a garbage bag and haul them off to your dumpster, here are a few much better suggestions.
1) SELL – If they’re in good condition and just don’t fit (or you’re sick of them) there are some awesome stores like as Buffalo Exchange or LikeTwice.com that base their businesses on good quality, fun, recycled fashion. (And jewelry, in the case of Buffalo Exchange.) If you live in a major city, there are probably consignment shops that you’ve passed around town, too – great options for reselling things like special occasion wear that might have cost you a pretty penny and not seen much use. Many of these places offer both cash and store credit options, too – so trade in the old for something you’ll use.
2) HOST A CLOTHING SWAP- The idea here is that you get a group together, pick someone’s place to meet up, and trade clothing that no longer fits or that you’re tired of with each other. The key is to get a big enough group together that you have enough quality clothing and people who are comparable sizes. One trick there is to invite friends of friends- because I know when I look around my immediate group of friends we’re all different shapes and sizes without much overlap. Oprah has some tips on hosting a clothing swap, as do the style & fashion bloggers over at SavvySugar, and blogger Sierra Black has posted some suggested ground rules for clothing swaps on his GetRichSlowly site.
3) UPCYCLE – I already posted about this a while back, but you can always turn that old t-shirt into something fun – a bag, a patch for a quilt, a cool bracelet, hell, even use it for cleaning around the house instead of wasting your hard-earned money on a plastic dusting apparatus from WalMart. I do my furniture dusting with a pillow case that I accidentally bleached in the wash. The internet is a wealth of DIY projects for the crafty minded.
3) DONATE – Just because it doesn’t fit you or you don’t want to patch up that hole doesn’t mean someone else won’t make good use of it- even if it’s for a Halloween Costume or a part in a local musical. Maybe they’ll turn that ugly bridesmaid dress into pillowcases, or make curtains out of the fitted sheet you have where the elastic gave out. It’s cliché, but your trash really IS someone else’s treasure. Thrift stores such as Goodwill and Salvation Army will sell your clothing and donate the proceeds to charity organizations. There are also plenty of groups that will accept clothing for the needy. Becca’s Closet, Cinderella’ Closet, and many other groups accept formal wear and provide this to girls who can’t afford dresses for prom or other major occasions. Dress for Success is among the many groups that collect business clothing for unemployed folks struggling to get back into the workforce who need attire for interviews and networking.
For more ideas on how to sell, donate, or swap old clothing, here are some tips from RealSimple and Oprah. (Both articles, as a bonus, contain information on other items such as furniture, books, and electronics!)