6 Simple Ideas to Reduce Clothing Waste

by: Sara on 09/02/2015

In many parts of North America, the changing of the season sparks the changing of clothes. The summer shorts and dresses make their way to the back of the closet while the fall coats and sweaters come to the front. And as the seasons change, often so do the styles.  Many of us have children wanting the latest fashions, and honestly, I myself still get a thrill out of a new winter coat. But with the rise of fast fashion, the poor conditions of factory workers and the tons of clothing thrown away each year, changing styles with the seasons will take some social and environmental savvy. Kate Black, the author of the soon-to-be-released book Magnifeco, Your Head-to Toe-Guide to Ethical Fashion and Non-Toxic Beauty, offers six simple ideas to reduce your clothing footprint and be Magnifeco!

6 simple ideas to reduce clothing waste

Over 90 billion items of clothing are produced annually, most from virgin materials. Our clothing choices play a large role in the health of the environment; what we buy, and what our clothing is made of makes a difference, but so does what we do with items when we are done with them. As you get ready to do the annual migration of the closets, that time of year when winter clothes come out from hibernation and summer clothes get packed away for another year, it’s a good time to think about what to do with the items you no longer need or want.

The average American throws away 70 pounds of clothing and other textiles a year. The urge to “throw away”’ is, in part, due to our disposable culture, but another part might be because no one knows what to do with garments when they’re done. Here are some ideas to help keep your clothing from the landfill:

•       Restyle: Have your tailor change a longsleeve to a short sleeve, shorten a hem, refashion flares to a skinny pant, or a dress to a tunic. DIY books and video tutorials have lots of ideas to refashion existing pieces, giving them extended life.

•       Gift: If someone you know covets a particular piece, when you are ready to retire it from your wardrobe, gift it to him or her.


•       Swap: Have several friends in the same boat? Host a clothing swap or join one in your community.

•       Sell: Make your contribution to the resale and second-hand inventory, list on eBay or at your local consignment shop.

•       Return to vendor: Retailers like PUMA, Patagonia and EILEEN FISHER will take their clothes back and recycle them into new products.

•       Donate: If you choose a known charity, your donation will likely be sold by them to raise money for their endeavors or resold to garment pickers who will resell the best pieces to vintage stores and package up the rest for resale to other markets, including clothing markets in Africa. Individual items of clothing can go to specific needs: Nike recycles sneakers into playground surfaces; cities in colder climates are always seeking coats (check with your local fire hall); and women’s shelters will take bras.

We are still buying far too much and discarding far too often. Whichever afterlife option you seek, it is far better than putting textiles into the trash. Decomposing clothing releases methane, a harmful greenhouse gas and a significant contributor to global warming. Plus, the dyes and chemicals in fabric and other components of clothes and shoes can leach into soil, contaminating both surface and groundwater. Use these 6 simple ideas to reduce your clothing waste.

Adapted from Magnifeco: Your Head-to-Toe Guide to Ethical Fashion and Non-Toxic Beauty by Kate Black



blog comments powered by Disqus