According to a recent survey by shopping channel QVC, the average woman has 22 pieces of unworn clothing lurking at the back of her wardrobe – purchased at an estimated cost of £1.6 billion. What’s more, 45 per cent of respondents cited rash buys as the reason for the sartorial pile up, with jeans the commonest closet-clogger. So what to do with all the unloved, unworn and unwanted pieces heaped at the back of your wardrobe? Throwing them away isn’t an option, with an unsustainable 1.4 million tonnes of textiles ending up in the UK’s landfill sites every year, according to DEFRA. Instead, says People Tree founder, Safia Minney, make them work for someone else by handing unwanted threads over to your local charity shop.
‘Donate your unwanted clothes to your favorite second hand or charity shop,’ says Minney. ‘I always buy second hand clothes at the same time. Second hand and vintage clothes are a "currency". I satisfy my consumer urge buying second hand. And if I buy something new, it is always Fairtrade fashion or ethical fashion.’ And she’s not the only one advocating a more ethical approach to cleaning out your closet. Founder of think tank Think Act Vote (?!X) and ethical jewellery label amisha.elegance.rebellion, Amisha Ghadiali has just launched ’12 Rules to Dress By’, which includes a smorgasbord of simple ways to make your closet a greener place. ‘Clothes are an important part of our daily life,’ she says. ‘Yet the global industry that employs one sixth of the world's population is riddled with issues such as fast fashion, toxic chemical use, forced labour and waste. We have the opportunity to affect millions of people’s lives and to protect our environment by how we shop and what we wear.’
Ghadiali’s rules include setting limits on your spending, buying organic and supporting small designers, as well as giving your closet an overhaul. ‘Have a wardrobe clear-out and give your unloved pieces to your local charity shop or hold a swishing party,’ she suggests. ‘Research the best clothing banks to donate to as some recycle every bit of clothing even if it is damaged, and some throw away things they can't sell.’ Minney agrees, saying: ‘many of my friends organise swishing events at their homes, offices and the local pub. Bring some, swap and keep the love flowing, with a glass of organic wine.’ She also recommends trying your hand at giving a unloved piece a new lease of life via a few clever tweaks. ‘You can recolour or redye your clothes using natural and organic materials (tea, onion skins and so on). Take your old shoes and convert them at 'I can make shoes' (www.icanmakeshoes.com). I also made my old skirts into curtains for my dining room in a crazy patchwork.’
Five simple ways to get a cleaner, greener wardrobe
We asked Debra Lestrade, CEO of style website, Style-to-you.com to share her top tips for de-cluttering your closet. If you still need more storage after you’ve cleared out the junk, she recommends investing in a Jumbo Storemaster Crates, £25.50 each, from Plasticboxshop.co.uk. Not only do they have space for a drawers’ worth of clothes; they’re made from 100 per cent recycled polypropylene and are manufactured in the UK.
1. Empty wardrobe
Give yourself at least two hours to complete the task. Start by completely empting your wardrobe. You may as well give it a dust and a spruce up now you have the chance and hang a few scented wardrobe fresheners.
2. Create four piles
Your four piles will consist of:
• Items you wear
• Items you do not wear
• Items you do not wear but have value (sentimental or financial)
• Items you’re not sure about
• Put the items you do not wear but have sentimental value in a bag and store.
• Think about selling the items of value on an online selling site or take to a second-hand designer clothes shop (you may get more for your money here).
• For items you aren’t sure about, be realistic. If you haven’t worn that item in the last six months (seasonal and black-tie clothing aside), you’re not likely to wear it in the future so pop it in the bag for the charity shop.
• Restock your wardrobe with the pieces you wear in item order: i.e. tops, jeans, suits, dresses, skirts, shorts etc. Put the items you wear most to the front and centre.
Group colours together within your item sections. For example, white tops, jeans, dark suits, black tops.
Walk to your local charity shop and donate the clothes you don’t wear to a worthy cause.
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