Clothes donation is on the rise. Research and recent surveys show that two in five people living in the UK have had a closet clear out while on lockdown and many are aiming to donate to charities as stores re-open. This means charity shops will be overwhelmed with donations and many items will not make it to the shop floor sadly. These will be rotated around different shops until when unsold thrown away or shipped abroad. Either way, most of these items will end up in landfills. As consumers, we have a responsibility to be sensible and educated when it comes to where and how to give our clothes away. We can help avoid them ending up in landfills in the UK or abroad by approaching clothes donations from different angles. Here are six easy landfill avert ways to do this mindfully.
1. BE CONSISTENT WITH CLEARING OUT YOUR CLOSET
We often clear out our closets in bulk. This means that when we want to donate, we find ourselves with bags and bags of clothes of items that have piled up over months or years. However, a great way to not get to that point is to clear out your closet regularly. As my clothes are sorted out by seasons, I often go back to the same clothes to create different looks. As I get creative with my closet seasonally, I try to notice and keep track of the items I don't wear frequently or that are old and I separate them from the others. By the end of the season, I have a smaller pile of clothes to get rid of as mindfully as possible. This is just me but you can do this monthly or even weekly. Whichever way suits you best. The goal is to keep track of what you are wearing or not wearing and separate these so you can assess what to do with them seasonally rather than yearly or longer.
2. BE CONSIDERATE, PUT ASIDE WEARABLE CLOTHES
When clearing your wardrobe, try to think of how someone would feel finding the item you intend to give away. Something old, with holes or stains, is unlikely to spark joy for someone else. In fact, items in bad shape rarely make it to the charity shop floor or get picked at a swap. Within your barely worn pile, try to sort out the items in great or at least wearable condition, items you think someone else would love and also treasure. As for the clothes that are no longer wearable, you can recycle them as cleaning cloths at home or repurpose them into face masks, headbands or any other useful bits and pieces for everyday life! Remember that old, worn underwear or intimate pieces also rarely make it to the shop floors in charity stores!
3. ASK FAMILY AND FRIENDS IF THEY WANT TO SWAP OR HAVE YOUR ITEMS
After clearing your closet out consistently and selecting quality pieces to giveaway, it’s worth looking around to see if you have friends or family who wear your size who would want these clothes. Maybe you could lend it to a family or a friend for a while. You might find that once you get it back you'll want to wear it again! Offering your clothes to friends and family first really helps to evaluate the quality of the clothing you want to giveaway. Even more fun, you can organise a swap party with friends and trade clothes to refresh your wardrobe. Landfill 100% avoided!
4. SWAP, SWAP, SWAP
I cannot stress enough how awesome swapping actually is! Apart from swapping with friends or family, you can find many swapping events in London and even online swapping platforms like The Dress Change. It’s basically a way to have a free rotating wardrobe, stopping clothes from going to landfill ( as your old items will most likely land in someone else’s closet to enjoy) and it does not require any resources that haven’t already been used. At one of my earliest swaps, I posted a photo of an amazing leather jacket I found. The previous owner saw the photo and reached out to say it was hers, that she loved it on me and was glad it found a new happy home. It was such a lovely exchange, a reminder that clothes link us all and have very real human stories.
5. SELL OR RENT YOUR ITEMS ONLINE
With applications and websites like Vinted, Depop, My circular wardrobe or Hurr making money through your wardrobe can be so easy. Once again this is a way of supporting a circular fashion economy and stopping items from ending up in landfills for as long and as much as possible. It's really fun sharing your wardrobe and creating community around sustainable shopping!
6. SPREAD YOUR DONATIONS TO CHARITY SHOPS ONLINE AND OFFLINE
Despite all these different ways of getting rid of your clothes, you will regardless end up with pieces to donate to charity or secondhand shops which is a good thing! You will be left with a few quality pieces that will add value to these shops! The key here is to spread out your donations. Try not to dump all your clothes at one store be it online and offline, there is no shortage of charity spaces today. Spread out your donations by dropping them off at two to three local charities stores instead of just one. You can also call these stores to find out what donations they are on the lookout for so you can donate relevantly. Online is also an easy space to do this. I love spaces like Thrift + where you can order a free donation bag, fill it up with your donations and drop it off to be sent to them, all in the comfort of your home.