Decluttering, minimalism and a sustainable wardrobe
If you are interested in creating a more sustainable wardrobe, there is a good chance that you will stumble across to minimalism. Minimalism is the movement that aims to simplify people’s lives by untangling their attachment to ‘stuff’, downsizing, and offering alternate vision of success- one that doesn’t promote more (money, things, experiences, work), and focuses on quality over quantity.
At its essence, minimalism is a very sustainable concept. It frees you from materialism and the need to buy new and better, or to consume your way to happiness. However, as happens when a concept is in vogue, there a great deal of very poor minimalist advice out there.
Decluttering is an important process for you to go through. However, if you simply purge your clothing quickly, without mindfulness, you are likely to keep continuing your poor purchases and overconsumption habits. It is important to clear your wardrobe over time, taking the time to mindfully recognise what motivated you to buy something you never wore, or hold on to something that doesn’t fit and so on. If you don’t recognise your motivations for the clutter, you will simply keep repeating old mistakes. Let’s face it- how many times have you cleared out your wardrobe before?
So, as you work through the decluttering process, whether it takes you a week or a year, be sure to give yourself the headspace to really examine your attachments to your clothes. This way you won’t continue to accumulate and hoard a wardrobe full of clothes you have no use for.
To declutter sustainably it is also important that you try to find new homes for the clothes that you can. Try a clothing swap, giving to family and friends, selling your clothing second-hand, donating directly to a women’s or homeless shelter or so on. Donating to charity/thrift stores should be a last resort, especially for fast fashion items. It is estimated that one third of donated clothing is resold, one third is shipped to the developing world where it is resold –undermining local artisans and industry in the process- and, the final one third cut up for rags or going to landfill. If you have good quality items, you can probably donate them safely. But if you have fast fashion items you should consider just using them yourself until they fall apart and need to be recycled or repurposed. If you keep these items for another year, and you still don’t wear them, donate them then. This way, at least, you can be sure that having them as a constant reminder of your poor shopping choices will motivate you avoid the same mistakes again!
And just finally, a sustainable wardrobe needn’t be a bare minimalist wardrobe if that doesn’t suit your personality. A sustainable wardrobe is one that contains good quality clothing, in sustainable fabrics, that you wear regularly and get good use out of, and then dispose of in a sustainable way. Whether that means owning 30 items or 100 is up to you.
If you enjoyed this article, you will love my guide to sustainable fashion 6 Steps to a Sustainable Wardrobe. A 60 page guide and 21 page printable workbook packed with simple actionable advice and activities for living more sustainably without compromising on style.
Decluttering is one of the critical steps to creating a sustainable wardrobe. But you need to know how to do this in a way that is kind to the environment and avoids waste. If you want to confidently approach your wardrobe sustainably, untangle yourself from consumer culture, declutter mindfully and learn how to shop sustainably, how to assess a fashion label’s ethics and sustainability credentials, and much much more, 6 Steps to a Sustainable Wardrobe is the resource to help you do this.
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