I’ve cleaned out my closet, now what?

So you’ve been working on paring down your wardrobe and finished cleaning out your closet. Maybe you used my guide for paring down your closet and have a lot of clothes in your ‘get rid of’ pile. What do you do with all of those items?

I went through this myself. The first time I cleaned out my closet, I took seven garbage bags full of clothes to Salvation Army. While it was an easy way to get the clothes out of my house, I noticed something as I went to Salvation Army a few weeks later. I noticed that I had donated a lot of old t-shirts. You know, the ones you get in high school when you are in sports or clubs, or the ones you get when you sign up for a 5K. I noticed that there isn’t a section in Salvation Army for “old high school memorabilia”. I thought to myself, where do the clothes go if they are not sold in the thrift store?

A lot of clothes that are donated to Goodwill or Salvation Army don’t end up getting sold there. A lot of it gets packed up and sent either to another charity shop, or it gets shipped around the world to developing countries, where they are already overwhelmed with the amount of clothes being sent there. Clothes that go unwanted often get burnt up or sent to landfills.

It got me wondering, “What can I do to make sure my clothes don’t end up in a landfill or burnt up?” I did some research, and found out that there are so many other things you can do with your ‘get rid of pile’!

Instead of donating your clothes to overwhelmed thrift stores, you can…

1- Take your gently worn and in-style pieces to a consignment shop. This is a great way to support local business and the easiest way I have found to sell your used clothes. I have a favorite local consignment store that has taken dozens of pieces from me to sell in her store. Not only does the store owner benefit from my clothes being sold there, but I also got a portion of each sale that I could take in cash, check, or in store credit. Most of the time I ended up using my store credit on one or two items at the shop, and those pieces are still some of my favorites.

2- Have a clothing swap party. Invite friends to bring their clothes to your home, church, or community center and “shop” each other’s closets. It’s a fun, free way to refresh your wardrobe and take home some new-to-you pieces. My church has a Clothes Closet community giveaway each month, so any clothes left at the end got donated to the church charity where community members can take them for free.

3- Ask someone if they might want some “hand-me-downs “. Before I get rid of a bag of clothes, I’ll usually ask my younger sister if she would like any of the items I am getting rid of. The hand-me-down opportunity does not end there, though. Whatever my younger sister doesn’t want, other people I know might also want my hand-me-downs. One time, I had the girls in my youth group and their moms come to my house for a try-on party! Some of my friends brought their old clothes to my house for the girls to pick from too! We had snacks, and music, and a lot of fun playing “fashion show”. The girls got to “shop” for free and got to spend some quality time with each other.

4- Re-purpose your old clothes. Do you have an old oversized shirt that you can turn into a skirt? Maybe some stained t-shirts that can be cut into cleaning rags? You can turn your old high school sports and club t-shirts into a quilt! I did that with my college and high school shirts last winter over a couple of snow days. If you aren’t crafty, there are people on Etsy who can make the quilt for you. All you have to do is mail your shirts to them!

My t-shirt quilt I made with my mom over a couple of snow days in January of 2019.

5- Sell your clothes. You can always sell your clothes without a consignment shop. You can sell your clothes on Poshmark, send them to Thred-up, or sell vintage pieces on Etsy. If they are from sustainable brands, there is a new shop called Lovanie that you can sell ethically made brands on. I have not sold clothes online yet. To be totally honest, I just haven’t felt like dealing with the hassle of mailing things to people. I am becoming more and more interested in trying though. We’ll see!

6- Re-categorize some items. This idea does not apply to all of the items in your ‘get rid of’ pile. When I say “re-categorize”, I mean wearing certain items for different purposes than before. For example, an old t-shirt that you don’t want to get rid of can be re-categorized as pajamas. Maybe old jeans with a hole in them can be still worn for yard work.

7- Donate to specific charities. Certain items like old prom or homecoming dresses can either be sold on consignment, or given to charities. Cinderella’s Closet is a charity that takes old prom and homecoming dresses and gives them to girls for free! Look and see if there’s a Cinderella’s Closet charity or something similar near you!

I hope these ideas have inspired you to do more with your ‘get rid of’ pile. Are there other ways that you have re-purposed or given away your unwanted clothes? I would love to hear about it!

So next time you do a closet clean-out, think about what you are going to do with your unwanted items. Maybe it will be a great opportunity to try something new!

One thought on “I’ve cleaned out my closet, now what?

  1. Pingback: How to keep your wardrobe sustainable… even if your style changes | Alli E Koch's Closet

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