Spring Clean Your Wardrobe Sustainably

It’s official, spring has sprung, or at least it has for us in New York City. If you haven’t already, it’s time to shake off the winter blues and to clean the house in preparation for a hopefully amazing spring and summer. 2019 the year of sustainable fashion so let’s look at some ways to make sure the wardrobe part of the spring clean is done eco-friendly

Categorize and Repair

Generally it is pretty standard to sort a wardrobe by yeses, maybes, and nos. But it is important to go a little deeper than that. One of the easiest tips for categorizing is the hanger tip. After you sort your clothing, hang all of them with the hanger facing towards you, and after you wear the piece, hand it facing away from you. Then check back in six months to see if you’re actually wearing that piece, cause if not, it might be time to donate it.

If you don’t have it already, include a separate category of reparables instead of throwing them into a maybe category. And when you sort a piece into a repairable category, plan out a repairing schedule. It doesn’t have to be all at once, but if you plan out a schedule for doing a simple repair a week you can turn all those maybes into yesses in no time. Finding the time to repair all of your clothing is a big task, but studies have shown that breaking a big task into a bunch of smaller tasks is a way to beat procrastination. If you have a day where you’re going to break out the sewing needles and patch up everything you own, you’re going to keep pushing that day farther and farther back. But if it becomes your Sunday morning or Thursday night ritual to repair one piece, you’ll find you run out of close to repair rather quickly (and don’t forget to still use the hanger trick after it’s been repaired).

Clothes Swap

Now that you’ve sorted your clothing, it’s time to get rid of the nos. The people reading this are most likely not going to simply throw out their clothing, but it is important to remember that donating clothing might not be the best option. There are a lot of steps between dropping a piece off at a donation center and someone who needs the piece wearing it again. Much of the clothing donated gets sold overseas in bales, to be sold at extremely cheap prices that can flood a local market and put local clothes makers out of business. Others are shredded into fibres used in carpets or furniture filling, which is fine but if the piece is still perfectly wearable then that stage of the material’s life cycle can be put off for a little.

Understand that we don’t say this to be anti-clothes donating, and donating your unwanted clothes is still a great thing. We just think that it shouldn’t be your immediate first option if other options are available to you. One of the best options we recommend is a simple clothing swap. If you want to make sure the clothes you’re giving away are going to be worn again, there’s no better way than to directly give it to someone who wants it. Plus, doing the clothes swap may already fill in some of the holes in your new wardrobe, saving you a shopping trip or two.

Plan out your buying habits

Now that you have gotten rid of your unwanted clothes, sorted your maybes, and know what you’re gonna repair, you might be missing some pieces you’ll need for the next year. Last step for a sustainable spring cleaning is to make sure your new clothes are bought sustainably. Check your local second-hand and vintage stores, look for upcycled fashion places like Rust & Fray, look for organic and sustainably manufactured clothing like Everlane, and so on. One hot tip we’ve heard people do is “cleanse” their social media of fast fashion brands and only follow slow fashion brands and influencers, to reduce the “gotta have it” factor.

Another tip is to avoid big stores altogether and go straight to the ethical boutiques or online shopping. It’s always going to feel worse buying an ethical piece when there’s a bottomed-out price fast fashion piece sitting right next to it, but that super cheap price is paid for by the environment and by the workers, so the price your seeing was picked up elsewhere. We recommend saving up before shopping, because you’re going to want to buy the higher quality items. In the long run, these higher quality items are going to be what lasts the longest, so these purchases are going to save you money in the long run. Finally, remember to watch out for microfibers! Microfibers are the tiny bits of plastic that shed off of synthetic clothing when you wash them. These might not seem like much, but they collect metals easily and get into the food chain, injuring sea life and contributing to the plastic soup that our oceans are becoming. Try and avoid synthetic fabrics when possible, and when not, make sure that the total amount of synthetics you have can be easily washed in a microfiber catching bag or a washing load with a cora ball.

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