Saturday, March 15, 2014

Project #EcoClutterBuster: Goodbye Clothes

Three bags full, picke up by the Diabetes Association
In this installment of my #EcoClutterBuster posts, I decided to tackle the problem of old clothes. In a perfect world, we could all have the money & the time to choose small, high-quality wardrobes made of sustainable materials, so this issue of textiles clogging up the landfills wouldn't exist. But I'm vulnerable to sale prices & thinking of clothing items as temporary stop-gaps (especially when dealing with a changing postpartum body) & I know I'm not alone in this.

Here is a factoid to get you thinking:

  • We throw away a huge amount of textiles, including clothing, in a year: approximately 16kg per person, or a total of 33,600 tonnes in Metro Vancouver in 2006.

So how do we deal with the stuff we don't want anymore in an eco-friendly way? I've got four ideas for you:

Donate it.
The Diabetes Clothesline truck picking up our donation
There are quite a few options for donating decent condition used clothing, as I'm sure you know. Many charities take clothes, which you can drop off in a special bin on the street, or at their stores. Other organizations will pick up the clothing from your home. This is one way we've downsized our closets: Big Brothers & the Diabetes Association Clothesline. You can book your pickup online (they come by on a set schedule, about every two weeks) & it's as easy as bagging the stuff up, labelling it & leaving it on your doorstep.
Sell it.
Yard sales are one way to get rid of stuff, but you might do better with a consignment store. There are some great ones all around Vancouver--Wee Ones Reruns is our favourite for children's clothing--which will give you 40-50% of the sale price of the clothes you sell with them.
Upcycle it.
Sometimes you might not want to give up your favourite old t-shirt or you just love the pattern of a skirt that you somehow ripped. So make it into something new! Sewing baby or children's clothing is a natural fit--you'll need less fabric than the adult size piece. There are some amazing tutorials online for projects like dresses or pants from men's shirts, for example. You can make pet beds, quilts, cleaning rags, rugs or pillows from old clothes. Google it or surf Pinterest for a while & you'll find a wealth of ideas.
Swap it.
This is probably the most fun idea of my list. Invite all your friends over & tell them to bring at least a few pieces of clothing they no longer want. Provide some snacks, music & maybe wine or beer & you'll have a ton of fun trying on each other's clothes. You'll end up with a few 'new' things yourself & say goodbye to a few more that you weren't wearing anyway. If there are leftover clothes, bundle them up & try one of the above solutions to send them on their way.

Have you got a closet full of clothes that you don't wear anymore? Have you got any other ideas for paring down your closet? Let me know in the comments below!

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