How to get rid of clothes in a responsible way

how to get rid of clothes in a responsible way

I am on a journey to my ultimate capsule wardrobe. A capsule wardrobe can have many forms and has a different meaning to different people. To me it is a small wardrobe with items that I love and can all match. It is an ongoing journey. And so I buy things, but also get rid of things. When a piece of clothing does not serve me any longer, I want to get rid of it in a responsible way. But how do I do that? Here’s how to get rid of clothes in a responsible way.

What is responsible?

When I get of rid of a clothing item I categorize it immediately. There are two categories for me. 1: an item which can be worn again. 2: an item which can’t be worn again. And when in doubt, I send it to category 1. Then somebody else can decide if they still want it or not, I do this to prevent that I’d get rid of things someone could still use. There are a lot of options when it comes to getting rid of clothes in responsible way, for me the most important thing is that the item gets used again, in any way.

There is however one thing I do not do to make sure clothing is used again. And that is to send it to poorer countries than my own. I’ve read a million times that when we send our own clothes to poorer countries, the amounts are insane (because we treat clothing as a single use item which is wrong in the first place) and therefore the people in those poorer countries drown in our clothes (not literally, but you know, there’s way too much). This way they can’t develop a (preferably circular haha) economy of their own. This way we keep them poorer than us and that’s not something I want to support.

Okay, so I divided the clothes in two categories as mentioned above. Here’s the steps I go through with each category. I’ll start with category 1: the clothes that can still be worn. 

Step 1: Resell

If my clothes are still in good shape, I try to resell it. This way I’ll earn some money. But also, this way the people who buy the clothes add more value to the items, because they paid for it. If something is free, people tend to value it less (like with a lot of plastic). And if they don’t value it, they’ll treat it as such. And so, my first option is to resell. I personally prefer to do that at a local secondhand store, because I like to support my local economy. Yet, you can also sell your clothes online. This also has the advantage that you’ll reach a bigger audience. Vinted and UnitedWardrobe are great apps to resell your clothes!

Step 2: Donate (or swap)

If that does not work (because nobody wants to buy your clothes), I try to donate the clothes. If you really want to have karma points, this can be your step one. That way you’ll make somebody really happy with something for free, yet the risk is that they’ll value it less than clothes they pay for. Anyhow, you can donate it to your friends or family or to the less fortunate in your country (remember, not to poorer countries).

I usually text some people who I know have the same size and see if they want my items. Another fun way to donate your clothes is to do a swap. Gather with some people and if everybody has some items they want to get rid of, you can swap! If not, there are organizations who collect the clothes for less fortunate people. In The Netherlands that would be Clothing Bank or Het Leger des Heils. Besides that this option is environmentally friendly, this is a very social option as well! Positive impact!

Okay, so this were the options for clothes which can still be worn. Category 2 is for clothes that can’t be worn again. Clothes with stains (which can’t be removed), unrepairable damage or anything else. 

Step 3: Refurbish

Maybe you have decided that a piece of clothing can’t be worn again. But have you really considered everything? When in doubt, try to fix it yourself by mending it. If you’re not that creative, you can bring the item to the tailor, I do that all the time! Tailors are masters and can repair almost anything. Don’t write clothes off too soon.

Step 4: Recycle

how to get rid of clothes in a responsible way

But is the item really unrepairable? Then you can also consider to make something else out of it! My mom makes bags from old jeans for example. I myself have once made a little bag for my cutlery from an old bag which was really ugly (the end result can be seen in the picture here). And from any fabric you can make your own handkerchiefs or wipes for household cleaning. That’s a double win, because you create a new zero waste habit! And if there’s really nothing that can be made of the item, I recycle it. In The Netherlands we have special places where you can recycle fabric. Most organizations make isolation material out of the items. 

So! That’s how you get rid of clothes in a responsible way! No more fabric at the landfill and onto a circular clothing system!

Yours sincerely,

10 thoughts on “How to get rid of clothes in a responsible way”

    1. I personally am not a fan of H&M, since they are a fair fashion company and therefore can never be sustainable nor social. I have heard of the program and have used it in the past (and so I totally get where you’re coming from!). But knowing what I now (have you maybe see The True Cost for example?), I rather give my clothes to another company to recycle than H&M. Maybe a local recycle company or something, since their core business is sustainable (where at H&M it is a side thing for greenwashing).

    1. Ah seems like you’re doing so well already! I can totally understand it when you have a busy life, we can’t be perfect, as long as we try our best 🙂 I totally get it and recycling at H&M is still recycling haha

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