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Is This 3-Step Closet-Clearing Routine The New Kondo?

Catherine Claire
Written by Catherine Claire
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In a world of fast fashion and online shopping galore, many of us have fallen into the habit of overbuying. Whether you enjoy staying on top of the latest trends or just love the act of buying new items, frivolous shopping is an easy trap to fall into, and it can seem harmless at first glance.

After all, it's easy enough to just get rid of our clothes when we run out of room in the closet, right? Well, this way of thinking can be extremely harmful to the environment, considering that 85 percent of clothing ends up in the landfill, where it's left to rot for years. So what's a more environmentally friendly way to tackle that overstuffed closet? The best way to approach overwhelming situations is always to keep the solution simple and actionable. That is where the three R’s—reduce, reuse, and recycle—come in.

Step 1: Reduce.

The best way to reduce what ends up in your closet is to shop carefully and judiciously. Before you even head out to a store, ask yourself two questions:

  1. How do you want to feel in your clothes?
  2. What do you want to accentuate about yourself?

Once you have your honest answers, you're ready to invest in high-quality items that you can wear over and over again. Try to purchase quality items that stand the test of time. Rather than buying four or five similar shirts, none of which fit quite right, you should invest in one quality shirt that fits like a glove. Your personal inventory will help you choose what you want your clothes to accentuate about your body and decide which silhouettes will do the trick. This eliminates frivolous and duplicate purchases you will never wear and acts as a great guide for creating a capsule wardrobe.

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Step 2: Reuse.

Give your old clothes a second chance by giving them to friends and family members you know will wear them. You can also sell or donate them to a consignment or secondhand shop.

If you find yourself falling victim to trends, make secondhand shopping your first option. Trends are always repeating themselves, so you’re bound to find a secondhand piece that fits what you’re looking for, and nowadays, online shopping makes it all too easy to shop for gently used clothing. Check out secondhand retailers and online thrift stores like ThredUp for great finds in this category. Your local thrift and vintage stores are also eco-friendly options.

Step 3: Recycle.

Like plastic and glass, you can also recycle your clothing with a little know-how. Here are some ideas about how to give your garments a second life:

  1. Use old shirts (or cut pieces from other old clothing) as rags around the house.
  2. Bring the hangers you aren’t using to a local dry cleaner or charity shop.
  3. Donate or sell your clothing to textile recycling companies. They’ll turn your outdated clothes into padding, insulation, industrial rags and more.
  4. If you are an avid DIYer, there are projects you can research online for how to repurpose your clothes into napkins, pillowcases, bags, quilts—you name it. Use that lazy Sunday to make your Pinterest dreams come true while being eco-friendly in the process!

There are a growing number of sustainable practices when it comes to the fashion industry, and every little bit counts when it comes to your wardrobe. With these tools, you don’t have to make sartorial sacrifices to adopt a more sustainable lifestyle. Simply be cognizant when you purchase new items, take a look at what is already in your closet, and practice the 3Rs to keep your fashion circle of life going strong.

Brands like Patagonia, Eileen Fisher, Nike, and H&M are dreaming up exciting new ways to reinvent their clothes. Check out more about them here and here.

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