As with so many things in our industrialized world, we have a problem with excess clothing. Most of us have way more than we actually wear. This isn’t just an issue in our homes, it’s a problem for the whole planet. Americans discard an average of 80 lbs of textile waste a year. What doesn’t end up in the landfill is often “donated” and shipped to other countries where it overwhelms local systems and disrupts local economies by removing demand for domestic products. As well-intentioned as we might be in wanting to pass along our rejects “to someone who can use it,” the truth is that in many cases we are sending our waste to be a problem somewhere else.
Where does that leave us in terms of trying to simplify our own lives and spaces?
Slow Fashion and a Sustainable Closet
Here are some suggestions for addressing clothing clutter and passing things along in a less wasteful way.
- Refrain from buying anything new for a season and see how it feels. Do you find yourself lacking in things to wear, or do you find yourself using things you already have in ways you might not have before?
- If some items have been hanging in your closet unworn through a full cycle of seasons, box them up, write the date on it, tape it shut and put it out of sight. It’s most likely that you won’t wear it again, but if you find yourself thinking “Well, maybe when I lose weight… or go on a cruise… or get an invitation to the inaugural ball…” and so on, ask yourself this– is it worth the aggravation of having it in the way and taking up your limited space until those things occur? If in one year you haven’t missed any of those things, get rid of it without opening the box.
- To move things out of your house, donate them as locally as possible. For instance, local church rummage sales and thrift stores are more likely to be visited by people in your area who can actually benefit from the clothing you no longer need and keep them out of developing countries or the landfill.
- Shop at second hand and consignment stores to keep existing clothes in use longer. You will be saving money and keeping your dollars out of the fast fashion sector.
- When you do decide to buy a new item of clothing, consider sustainable fashion brands that can account for responsible sourcing and manufacturing. You will likely be spending more per item, but this is an opportunity to evaluate the significance of cost. What does it actually mean when we say something is a good price? In terms of slow fashion, asking this question can give us a new perspective. In making this shift in your awareness and subsequently in your buying habits, you will be using your purchasing power to help establish a new consumer paradigm!