'Tis the season for closet cleaning! But before you start getting rid of clothes, take a moment to plan out your clearing strategy. You'll save time and effort by taking heed of the ten simple, sustainable tips we've collected here at WOVIN:
1. Divide and conquer
If the task of spring cleaning seems daunting, start with one section at a time, maybe over the course of a few weekends. By prioritizing and conquering one thing at a time, the goal to minimize and consolidate will become more achievable.
Important note: you should NEVER throw textiles away. Even clothes that aren't in sellable condition may still be recycled. If possible, find a reputable clothing collector in your area that accepts these recyclables.
2. Repurpose your old stuff
You might also consider creating something new out of the fabric of your old clothes, such as repurposed greeting cards (applicable to any occasion, not just Valentine's Day). We've also compiled a list of other repurposed gift ideas that you can adapt to any celebration. Of course, a simple search on Google or Pinterest will further help fuel upcycling inspiration! Be creative.
3. Notice buying patterns
As you go through your closet, look at the types of clothes you purchase often but rarely wear. Are these items typically a particular color? Style? Brand? Are there types or brands of clothes that tend to wear out faster? This is an opportunity to evaluate your clothing spending; if you recognize wasteful buying patterns, take this time to make a conscious change for the better.
Author Elizabeth L. Cline recommends consumers break the "buy-and-toss" cycle by supporting sustainable designers and retailers, refashioning clothes, and mending/making their own clothes.
You may also consider purchasing less clothes, and being more intentional about buying better quality pieces. You'll be doing your wallet, wardrobe, and earth a favor!
4. Stick with the essentials
If all else fails, remember one thing: spring cleaning is about making space. This requires you to let go of what you truly don't need. Lifehacker has great advice for keeping a "minimalist wardrobe." For women, recommended essential items include:
- A nice dress
- Two jackets
- Three skirts
- Three sweaters
- Two dark trousers
- Two jeans
- Three coats
- One white buttoned shirt
- A handful of t-shirts
Men may follow similar guidelines as well, incorporating a formal suit instead of a nice dress, for example, blazers instead of sweaters, and slacks instead of skirts. Of course, these are all suggestions and subject to your personal lifestyle and preference. The main idea is to recognize what your essential items are first, and let go of the unnecessary.
5. Use the "Two-Year Rule"
According to an article on Slate, one in four American women own seven pairs of jeans--but they only wear four of them regularly. So if you're having difficulty parting with certain clothing items, take comfort in knowing that you're not alone. As you go through your closet, it might be helpful to employ what Huffington Post calls the Two-Year Rule: if you haven't used it in two years, donate it.
The important thing here is to be honest with yourself. We like these general guidelines as well, adapted from Elle, on when to let go of a clothing piece:
- It's been a year and the clothing item still has the tag attached
- You can't think of at least three ways to style it
- It looks good on a hanger but doesn't fit you just right
6. Keep joy and get rid of the rest
Last November, the Palo Alto Pulse made a call for residents to "clean out their closets and do good." While Black Friday has long passed, the advice remains relevant, especially during this season of clearing. Simply put: when you decrease clutter, you increase joy.
As easy as it is to get sentimental with your clothes, challenge yourself to practice non-attachment and Marie Kondo's approach. Ask yourself: does this clothing item truly bring me joy? If the answer is no, then it's time to let go.
7. Organize, organize, organize
Now that you're left with the joy-filled essentials, you can now focus on organizing what remains. Fold your t-shirts right, so they don't get wrinkled. Choose a sorting technique (for example, by color, style, or season) that makes the most sense to you. Invest in organizational pieces from IKEA and/or The Container Store. Get inspired on Pinterest, then execute those ideas!
The main thing is to treat your clothes the way you want to be treated, with a little R-E-S-P-E-C-T. A little goes a long way.
8. Donate wisely
Likewise, treat not just your clothes, but the earth with respect. 12 million tons of unused textiles get sent to U.S. landfills each year, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Do your research about where your clothes end up at the end of their life. Make smart choices about where you donate. Make an effort to NOT contribute to landfill waste, even if indirectly.
Sometimes we need to be reminded that spring is a season for new beginnings. This period of cleaning doesn't have to be viewed as a chore. Instead, view the season as an opportunity to make space for bigger and better things, materially and otherwise. By reframing the task in this way, you can achieve a lot more with less energy.
10. HAve fun!
Again, spring cleaning is all about perception. Spring cleaning can be a party if you want it to be; put on a playlist, recruit friends to help, enjoy a glass of wine. You might even consider hosting a clothing swap with close friends. The options are as vast as your creativity takes you.
At the end of the day, reward yourself with a coffee or sweet treat for a job well done. Even if no one else does, your closet (and the earth) will thank you for your hard work.
As the saying goes: “Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.” When it comes to spring cleaning your closet, it really is that simple.
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