Guide: Ethical Decluttering (Animated quick guide included)

Minimize your closet and other items around the house ethically & with least impact on your environment by following the simple animated guide at the bottom of the article (or read the article). This article speaks specifically about ethically decluttering closets but can be applied to decluttering other items also.


Every year tens of millions of pounds of used clothes end up in landfills. We can change that by deciding what happens to the clothes we no longer want. - mnmlgrl

We've all seen those closets online - the monochromatic & classic, the eclectic & trendy, the boho & whimsical. No matter the style of clothes in the closet, there is one factor that binds them all - there is always room for air (and more clothes) between the clothes wafting gently on the dressing rod. We assume getting a bigger closet or buying more clothes will give us the same look, when in fact honing your sense of style and getting rid of items you don't use give off the same aesthetics and for less.


Deciding which items to get rid of is tough enough, but how do you ethically rid of items you don't want without negatively impacting the environment?This article will give you ethical and eco-neutral options for items you have removed out of your closet - the ones you no longer want or love or spark joy basically - conscious decluttering or intentional decluttering.


Once you know what to hold on to then you need to ensure you are mentally & emotionally ready to part with a sizable number of items from your closet. There are only two reasons you are unwilling to part with the items in your closet.

Click here to read what might be holding you back from a leaner, more enviable closet.


Here is a step-to-step guide on how to ethically remove clothes from your collection to create a curated closet. You can also go through my Ready to Minimize your Closet (below) animation for a quick tutorial.


1. Empty your closet of clothes you don't need.

Remove them also from your storage, suitcases etc. Hang or neatly fold the clothes you want in your closet.


2. Make three piles of these clothes. One pile of clothes in great condition, with tags, brand new, never worn etc. Make another pile for wearable clothes that need minor repairs, a tiny rip, a button missing or sweater with a hem unraveling. The last pile of clothes are unwearable for any reason, large tears, misshapen, color bled out etc.


3. For clothes in great condition:

  • Giveaway to friends and family. Take pictures and circulate among everyone you know to see if anyone would want these clothes. Alternatively you could invite your friends over and decide who gets what over a cup of coffee or dinner & drinks.

  • Donate to charities that will actually use your clothes - women's & children's shelters, old age homes etc. Most charities will sell your clothes if they are unwearable or simply because they get too many donations and cannot handle the load of clothes they receive. So double-check to ensure that the charity will use your donations before donating.

  • Sell your clothes online for cash or discounts. There are many apps and websites that help with this - eBay, Amazon, OLX, Poshmark, Elanic, Etashee, Spoyl, ReFashioner, Material world, the Real Real, ThredUp, Tradesy, Asos marketplace, Bib & Tuck, Klury, ShopHers, SnopSwap, ThreadFlip, Twice, Vaunte and Walk In Closet are the ones I know of. You can also broadcast your message (no more than once a year, unless you aim to annoy) to your friends, family, social media friends to see if anyone picks items off of you. Personally, I've had better luck from small whatsapp groups and social media chats than the apps but it might be an exception rather than a rule.

4. For clothes that need some repair but otherwise great & wearable:

  • Fix the issue.

  • Follow steps for clothes in great condition. I usually sell this pile of clothes to the bhandiwalas who buy clothes in exchange for money, kitchen utensils and household items. This concept exists only in a few places in Asia.

  • Use for layering, while traveling, lounging with the caveat that you keep them only if you absolutely need and love, love, love the items.

5. For clothes that are in bad condition & unwearable:

  • Ask friends and family that you have this pile of unwearable clothes and how to repurpose and recycle them. One of my friends was moving and used a lot of my old trekking clothes to pack his glassware. Another time, my aunt took all my old jeans and used them to sew bags and purses - she even gave me a couple! I know of a lady who refashions clothes to make new outfits. Basically, you never know how this pile might be useful to someone unless you ask.

  • Use for DIY projects. You can make rag dolls, puppets, shag carpets, patch-work items, wrapping gifts, doll or baby clothes etc. Simply search for DIY fabric projects and a lot of stuff will show up

  • Use around the house. Padding for pet beds, burp-cloths, cloth diapers, cleaning rags, stuffing for bean-bags, wrapping things for storage or for a move, use as tinder for your campfire or fireplace.


NOTE: Please read the clothing label careful before you use around the house or for DIY projects because not all materials are alike.


6. Trash the item only after every possible use out of the piece of cloth is exhausted.


Happy cleaning!

-mnmlgrl



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