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Spring Cleaning: 4 Virtuous Ways to Deal With Your Old Clothes

Women’s wardrobe

Spring Cleaning: 4 Virtuous Ways to Deal With Your Old Clothes

Clearing out the closet in the spring is a fashion-forward way of welcoming in the new season. Making way for new threads doesn’t necessarily mean putting unnecessary strain on the environment. Almost anyone can refresh their look while still minimizing waste. Many will enjoy the creativity and social activism involved in consciously dealing with old clothes.

1. Donate

Women browsing through clothes in a thrift store

Clothing is a human necessity, but not everyone has all they need at any given time. Many organizations collect old clothing to put to good use.

Thrift stores

Most thrift store networks sell donated clothing and use the proceeds to support specific causes. By buying from a thrift store, customers are doing good for the environment and for the community: the money helps the cause supported by a nonprofit thrift store, while buying secondhand clothing helps the earth.

Non-profit organizations

Other nonprofit organizations collect clothing to be used for their own clientele. Local shelters for women fleeing violence, for people experiencing homelessness or caring for those overcoming substance use issues can often take used clothing.

Global charities like the Red Cross provide clothing to people fleeing disasters and other challenging circumstances. With all these options, everyone should think twice before throwing out clothes — a neighbor could probably use the old stuff.

2. Sell

H&M sign

To a vintage store

Many people can also make a little bit of extra cash for their old clothing. Again, this helps the environment while still helping to recoup some money spent on fashion. Vintage shops may sell old clothes on consignment, giving previous owners a part of the tag price. Some thrift and second hand shops will also buy old clothes outright, in exchange for either money or store credit.

To large retailers

Getting credit or cash for old clothes is not limited to independent stores. Large retailers have also gotten in on the recycling game, noting that it is better for the earth. It is also good public relations to reward customers for bringing back old clothes. Outdoor clothing manufacturer The North Face gives customers a $10 credit for old apparel, regardless of brand or condition.

3. Repurpose

Quality clothing is made of something very valuable: fabric. There is no shortage of ways to use that fabric by turning it into something else of value. This is repurposing, and it can be as simple as turning an old T-shirt into a pillow cover — saving money and materials that would otherwise be wasted by buying a new pillow sham — or more crafty, such as turning an old T-shirt into yarn.

This is a chance to minimize waste by following a creative instinct. Viewing old clothes in a new light can help open new possibilities of how to use aging items in a new way.

4. Upcycle

Old clothes may have some years on them and may have gone out of style. But they may be still too good to be tossed. Sometimes there is a sense of real attachment to old clothes, so people are not yet ready to take them to the donation bin. Upcycling brings new life to an old piece of clothing but, unlike repurposing, does not make it into something other than apparel. Re-dying a T-shirt, or adding some bling or prints are examples of upcycling clothing so it will continue to be worn.

Spring cleaning can be a creative and money-saving endeavor. It is also a great way to reduce the environmental cost of the fashion industry. Whether it is crafty or charitable, these alternative ways of handling old clothing can help fashionistas feel good about the coming seasons.

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