A clothing donation drop-off box. / © Pixabay
Now that summer is here again, it's time to update your wardrobe. Things that have become too small are being sorted out to make room for new stuff. But what's the best thing to do with your old clothes?
Unless they are worn to the point of no return, you should not throw them away. As you might have heard the (fast) fashion sector is the second highest pollutor and it does not look like it's going to change soon.
On average, 700,000 tons of used clothing gets exported overseas and 2.5 million tons of clothing are recycled. But over three million tons are incinerated, and a staggering 10 million tons get sent to landfills.
But there are alternatives that are way better, help the environment and help you make some coin: Donating and/or selling. Give your clothes a second life and reduce your waste.
During my studies I volunteered in a thrift store where I was sorting through mountains of clothes and saw in the first instance what was really going on behind the scenes. In addition to that I also sold lots of my stuff online or found stores to sell them for me.
As someone who loves thrifting and second hand clothes, I am here to share my golden tips with you.
When you start organizing your closet have more than one pile for the clothes you are not keeping. DON'T put it all into one giant pile because that can be confusing. I'd like to divide it into an unusable, a donating and a selling pile.
DO keep the nicer, expensive as well as special items on your selling pile, they have the best chance of being bought by others. Casual, basic items that are still good enough to wear but might seem boring you can put on your donation pile. Sometimes when I know there is a store nearby that collects textile waste, I also create one pile for that. They can be then be recycled and be used in a different way.
DON'T donate things that have holes, are dirty or genereally unwearable, unless they specify they recycle textile waste. Thrift stores often do not have the time and resources to wash, dry and repair clothing so they will end up being thrown away. Sad but true. Thriftstores are not a way to cleanse your conscious by giving them waste to throw out for you.
DO please wash your clothes before you donate or sell them. Try to fold them and place them nicely in a bag or box. It makes all the difference to the workers in the stores.
DON'T donate clothes that are not in season. Donate your winter coats in fall, your summer clothes in spring and your Christmas sweater before Christmas. Stores often do not have the capacity to store items for that long, so if it's not sellable they have to get rid of it.
DO take a look at the offers in your area. Do they have stores where you can bring your clothes and they sell them for you for a percentage of the price? That's a great alternative if you want to make some money, but do not have time to individually photograph, pack and send every piece.
If you decide to sell them on your own via Facebook or apps, DO take quality pictures of your clothes. Put them on a hanger, take shots of details, the tags and DON'T forget good light! Pictures are what makes or breaks the decision to buy an item and shaky photos are not it.
DON'T forget to describe your clothing. Has it been worn often? Does it have a hole somewhere? Is it new with tags? Never forget to put the size on the label in the description as well. There is a big difference between 42 and XL, and often those apps have them labeled in the same category.
If you need to ship an item DO fold it nicely and pack it in a sturdy box or other type of package. I try to reuse old boxes. Maybe even put a nice note in there. Customers appreciate those little things and it won't hurt your rating.
All in all this is a reminder to take care of your clothes. They will last longer or will at the end find a new home with someone else. Working in a thrift store was definitely an eye-opener for me and it made me appreciate my belongings even more because I saw the amount of things that were not usuable. And sometimes it is the small things like washing them before donating, or maybe fixing a little hole. It's not a lot of work for you at home, but it can make a tremendous impact.
Help to make our environment a little bit better and shop consciously my dear friends!
The future generations will be thankful.