3 Easy Steps to a “Clean” Closet

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By Connor Fallon 

Photo by Edward Howell on Unsplash

Every day millions of people visit shopping centers and e-commerce websites to purchase the newest fashion trends. The fashion industry sells and produces between 80 to 150 billion garments each year, globally.  

With that statistic, that means roughly two trillion, one hundred billion garments have been produced since 2000. While the industry continues to pump out clothes, consumers rid of their garments in droves. In 2018, landfills received 11.3 million tons in textile waste. The main source: clothing.  

Our fashion footprint is incredibly large, and each person approximately contributes about 1,620 pounds of CO2, annually. To calculate your approximate fashion footprint, you can visit https://www.thredup.com/fashionfootprint. While we often think of the 3 Rs, reduce, reuse, and recycle, in terms of garbage, we can also use them to cut down our fashion footprint.  

  1. Reduce/Buy Less 

While it is thrilling to update your closet with the latest fashion trends of the season, the best thing we can do for the planet is consume less, which is why reduce is the first and most important of the 3 Rs. Even items created in the greenest way possible have a carbon footprint behind them, from production through shipment.  

Over the 21st century, we have increased garment purchases by 60%. Overconsumption has become the center of the issue. The rise of fast fashion and trends becoming more observable have made it easier for consumers to keep up with trends, on a budget.  Buying second-hand, swapping clothing or renting clothing are great alternatives to buying something new.    

  1. Reuse/Repurpose  

Repurposing and giving your old clothing a new life is the simplest way to reincorporate your old clothing into everyday wear. To find inspiration for repurposing your old articles of clothing, social media is always a great place to look.  

The app Tik Tok has an entire community of upcyclers focusing on recycling old clothing, try looking under hashtags, #upcyclefashion, #sewingtiktok and #thriftedtransformation to find inspiration.  

Other apps like Pinterest and YouTube are great places to find inspiration and tutorials too. Some Instagram accounts to check out are @withwendy@coolirpa and  @happilydressed. When it comes to upcycling, the world is truly your oyster. Reusing and repurposing your old clothing doesn’t always require skills to be successful, it can be as simple as using an old tattered t-shirt as a rag. 

  1. Recycle/Donate 

Although recycling is the most common solution to cleaning out a wardrobe, the textile recycling rate is one of the lowest when compared to other recyclable materials.  

When deciding whether to recycle or donate a textile, take into consideration the conditions of the piece. Often, donation centers will not sell textiles that are in bad condition, in this case, find a textile recycling center.  

If your clothing is in good condition and you are still planning on donating, consider looking into the brand of the garment. Some big-name brands have begun buy-back incentives to make fashion more circular and promote sustainability. Other donation centers, like Plato’s Closet, allow you to “trade” your clothing for something new from their stores.  

The Ellen MacArthur Foundation believes in making fashion circular. A circular system aims to redefine growth and eliminate waste, keeping a single garment in use for a lifetime. If curating a more eco-friendly closet interests you, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation is a great resource for more information.  

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