Happy Monday! With Fashion Revolution week behind us, it may be easy to say “See you next year”, but around here, we want to encourage a Fashion Revolution all year long. While most revolution-ers may be focused on asking brands who made our clothes, the goal of the week is to also inform about “Haulternatives” to shopping new and today I’m taking it a step further to talk about how to get rid of unwanted clothes, because even as makers, there are pieces we don’t want!
I’ve been on the search for the best way to dispose of unwanted clothes for years. Since my wardrobe isn’t 100% handmade, I still have store bought pieces I am slowly getting rid of because they no longer suit my style. My first instinct is always to refashion, but there are some pieces too good to chop up, and some too unusable to wear. I’ve done several things to limit my landfill waste when it comes to apparel including:
1.Selling online. Ebay is super easy to set up, and you get free listings every month, so you only pay when something sells! This is a great place for gently used clothing items that you actually want to get real money back for. Poshmark has also become a popular app, and a great one if you are constantly on your phone. A few other places are: Mercari, LetGo, and even Facebook Marketplace (although a few of these are more for furniture or tech pieces, I’ve seen clothing on them as well). Etsy is also an option – but the clothes must be “vintage” (over 20 years old) or have been altered in some way. (Etsy is also the best if you have handmade pieces to sell!)
When I’ve been on thrifting trips, I’ve actually picked up some items in the store that are New With Tags and have sold them online, making a small side income to support my fabric addiction. There are many people who make re-selling their full time job, and from my perspective, it’s such a great way to keep good clothes in circulation and getting them to the right customer.
2. Donate to ThredUp or a local location. ThredUp is an online thrift store that will pay you for your gently worn clothes. Fill up one of their polka dot bags, send it in and watch the money come in! You can use the funds to buy clothes through ThredUp, donate to a cause or cash out to buy more fabric! There are also local consignment shops that will give you cash for clothes and another favorite of mine is Plato’s Closet. These places will not give you a lot of money for your used goods, but it’s a great alternative to throwing them away, or dropping it in one of those “unknown clothing bins!”.
Worried about what they do if your clothes aren’t accepted? Here’s ThredUp’s response:
“We have high quality standards and typically accept less than 40% of the clothing we receive. Items that are still in great shape but don’t meet the thredUP standards are sold to third party sellers. Items that are no longer in wearable condition are passed onto our textile recycling partners and upcycled. The proceeds we recoup through this process help us cover some (but not all) of the shipping and labor costs incurred for the unaccepted items we receive.”
If you have specific items to donate, like a prom or wedding dress, a simple search will help you find local donation centers or charity events that look for these pieces! (and because I love making things as easy as possible, here’s a list of places to donate a wedding dress you may have: babble.com )
3. Recycle through H&M. They take any and all fabric/clothing waste & give you a coupon for the donation! What do they do with it? They re-distribute the good quality clothing for re-sale, upcycle the good pieces of material into new store collections and then recycle all the small scraps and unwearable pieces! This is the bag of scraps and failed sewing projects I brought in a few months ago. (and no, I didn’t use my coupon!)
You can read more about their initiative here. I’ve come across a few people who are very opposed to H&M recycling program, saying that they don’t recycle as much as they claim to. While I don’t believe every single thing I read on the internet, I do trust that they are trying their best to make a change in this world, and putting greater power into recycling, so I am willing to give them a shot. They also have a pretty large voice in the industry, so I’m happy encourage their efforts!
Another alternative is to look up a recycling location with the Council for Textile Recycling. This council is something I’ve recently learned about but the mission is simple: Keep clothing, footwear and textiles out of landfills. They have a locator search tool to help you find places to donate used goods nearby. Near me, Goodwill takes old materials. I have heard that scrap bags and unusable materials should be labeled as such before donation – ask your local branch what they prefer.
Thrifting/second hand shopping is becoming one of the most popular forms of retail – and I don’t think that’s going to end any time soon. Take a look at the 2018 Fashion Resale Report by ThreadUP. Companies are listening to the demand of less fast fashion. They hear us, and they are making changes because now it’s either change or lose business.
As a maker, I am always on the lookout for recycled materials to use. My handbags use a lot of fabric swatches, which I got from a local interior designer and I just received my first order from Fab Scrap to use in my wardrobe!
If you are unfamiliar with Fab Scrap, they are a company reducing waste in the apparel industry at the factory level. There is so much unused fabric in fashion collections, that most companies don’t know how to recycle or sell it. Enter: Fab Scrap, and now you can buy designer fabrics at cheap prices while supporting recycling efforts! You can buy scrap packs, which have smaller scraps or yard packs which include 5 + yards of curated materials. I bought a “warm pack” and asked for florals and solids to make blouses and dresses (silkier pieces) and they listened!
I hope my little series has inspired you to think about the pieces in your closet. Just because you don’t like something, doesn’t mean you have to keep it! Keep Fashion Revolution going by Refashioning, Recycling, and Consciously Shopping. These are all ways to help make our planet a little greener.
It’s such a great time to encourage others to take a step to think about their wardrobe as well. Want to encourage more handmade? Me Made May starts TOMORROW and you know I’m taking part! I use Me Made May to see the gaps in my handmade wardrobe and which pieces don’t get any wear. It’s also a time to push myself to finish a few projects I have hanging around to have another outfit or two for the month!
I am really excited for this year’s Me Made May and can’t wait to be inspired by every one else’s wardrobes!