5 Ways to Avoid Having to Throw Out Your Old Clothes
Fast Fashion is a major convenience. It's affordable and there's always something new to get into and dance around in.
I still own a lot of clothing I bought from fast fashion retailers. Am I going to get rid of them on this sustainable fashion journey? No. Because I can still get use out of them. Throwing it out for the sake of throwing it out isn't helping anyone. Just contributing to waste.
I got this blue spaghetti strap maxi dress from H&M when I was a freshman in college (6 years ago! ) and I recently found it again while closet shopping. So happy I did! I haven't worn it in so long that it's almost like a I got a new dress.
The first and most important way to avoid throwing out your clothes is to WEAR IT!! Easy right? One day, I'm sure I won't wear it as much. But by then, I'll be well equipped to give it a new home.
Getting tired of the same old, same old?! REINVENT that Dress! Take a maxi dress and make it a mini dress using fashion tape or good old fashion sewing/tailoring. Its such a quick fix, yet can really transform the item of clothing!
I've had this red dress since 2012. It used to come down past my knees. I simply used some heavy duty hem tape (which works best on heavy fabrics like denim or velvet) and turned it into a mini dress! Now I love it even more! I actually wore this for Valentines Day with my boyfriend this year. :)
You can also turn old t-shirts into work out tanks by cutting off the sleeves, turn jeans into cutoffs... it doesn't take much. Youtube is a great source of inspiration if you're feeling more adventurous!
2. Swap Swap with your friends! Swap with your sister! Swap with your mom (in my case, every time I put clothes aside to donate, they end up being worn by my mom.)
Swapping is so easy, and a great way to change up your style without throwing anything away!
Grow NYC is a non-profit that takes clothing, shoes, bedding, linens, hats, handbags, belts, and fabric scraps and recycles them. Check out grownyc.org for drop-off locations at various city farmer's markets. They also have swap events! Check out Stop 'N' Swap!
NYC is full of consignment shops that will buy your unwanted clothes from you! Here are a couple options: Beacon's Closet
Buffalo Exchange (My Favorite)
Thrift shops like Buffalo Exchange usually buy clothes they can resell. Which means seasonal pieces (sweaters in winter, dresses in summer etc.) that are on trend. You have the option of taking cash or credit to come back and sop at BEx! Credit is usually worth more, and in my opinion, the much better deal. Make sure the clothes are clean and in good condition!
Have you seen that some of the biggest fashion influencers on Instagram sell their clothes on Poshmark? Social Media is a great way to get the word out to friends and family that you're trying to reduce your wardrobe! (Even if you don't have a following of 100k - you can still post to facebook!)
Marketed as online consignment, donate or sell good- condition clothes for kids and women. You can also buy items!
Kind of obvious - but I didn't want this one to be overlooked! eBay has a VERY active group of loyal shoppers! (My boyfriend included)
You know what they say - one man's trash is another man's treasure!! Sure it takes an extra couple of minutes to take a picture of something and post it online. But it's definitely more productive than throwing it out without even TRYING to see if someone else will want it.
“People should give as much thought to where they donate their clothes as to where they donate their money,” says Goodwill spokesperson Christine Nyirjesy Bragale.
I could probably do an entire post on just donating, because I think its really important. Lots of people donate LIKE they are throwing out. Which isn't actually useful. But I'll include some quick tips here and elaborate further in another post.
I usually donate my old clothes to my younger cousins (I have a lot) or my church or my next door neighbor who takes the clothing with her when she visits her home in the Philipines. So check around your neighborhood, local schools, churches etc. before donating to an official organization. While the donation centers/organizations listed below are fabulous, as only a small percentage of clothing donated actually ends up in a new home. There is plenty of literature on the web on the actual percentage - some say around 10, others say 20%. But that's not the issue... always better to take control when you can and engage more with your community service efforts.
Goodwill is a big one and probably the most obvious. They have so many locations! Now that I'm actively on the look out, I see them everywhere. Including right around my apartment on the east side of Manhattan. They also have great events where you can go to the goodwill store, do some shopping/donating, and have fun with other thrifties (yes, I made that up) and conscious gals! You can also sell clothing to shopgoodwill!
If you can't reinvent your old prom dress, then spread the love! All across the country there are organizations that exist to help girls look and feel their best on prom. In NYC there's project G.L.A.M! Just a few things to note - Dresses must be from 2008 or later, unless it’s black and they also must also be prom appropriate — so no casual day dresses. Do a quick google search to find a local organization that you can donate to!
Dress for Success
A not-for-profit organization that provides women with professional attire to empower them to succeed regardless of their economic situation. Women helping women at its very core! We all know clothing is more than just clothes. And we all know how the right outfit can make us feel. Put on a bomb fitting suit and you automatically hold your head up higher, back straighter. You walk with purpose and are more confident. I know I've felt that! Love that there's an organization out there looking to help other woman achieve their ultimate potential everyday!
BUY then DONATE
This is a sub-catagory of donating - but definitely super cool and convenient. Many retailers provide outlets and services for you to donate clothing when you buy something! Check out a couple I found!
Cuyana : The Lean Closet Movement
Choose the dedicated Lean Closet card option when you get to the checkout page and Cuyana will send you a reusable bag to fill with the clothes you no longer want/need! Mail them back and Cuyana and their non-progit partners will distribute them to women in need. They also provide incentives towards your next purchase. Donate a bag of clothing - get $10 off your next order.
& Other Stories
This store is a faction of H&M, a popular fast fashion retailer that I don't think I would promote as being sustainable and having ethically made products. (They could be! Show me the receipts H&M) Check out their recycle page!
So there you have it! 5 ways to avoid having to throw out your old clothing. I've ordered this article like a checklist. In other words, if you can't reinvent...can you swap? If you can't swap, can you sell?
Donating in my opinion (while the charitable thing to do) is last on my list. Because, while in theory, you want to be helping someone in need - you have less control about what happens after the fact.
The major issue with sustainable and ethical fashion is that there are so many points in the production lifecycle of an item of clothing. They ALL have to be doing the right thing to have a clean cycle. If there is an issue at one end, it throws into question the credibility of the entire process. Or at least, for me it does. Of course, everyone has to draw a line somewhere. The concept of sustainable and ethical fashion isn't fully regulated or standardized.
SO - on this sustainable journey, our goal is to BE MORE ENGAGED. Don't just throw out. And don't just donate either. Don't shove your old clothes, in a black garbage bag, down a clothing donation box and never think about it again. Try to get more involved in the lifestyle. Donate to specific causes, to people you know and have a connection to. Donate to companies you like and believe in.
Anyway, I'll get off my soap box. I hope this post was interesting, useful, and relevant to you! There are a lot of similar articles out there, but hopefully I was able to offer up a unique perspective.
What do you guys do with the clothing you don't want anymore? Any favorite charities, donation centers, thrift stores? Send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or head over to my Insta @flauntyourfancy to comment or DM!