Keeping a wardrobe in order doesn’t necessarily mean throwing your old clothes out. These six awesome ideas will help you find new owners for your outdated yet gently worn garments and earn a few extra karma points in the process.
Every year, people spend up to 60% more on clothing than they did the year before
A week before my friend’s wedding, I started going through my wardrobe trying to find that fabulous outfit I wanted to wear to the event. After reviewing every single item in my closet, I realised I had nothing worth wearing (so predictable). What upset me more, was a blouse I hadn’t worn since my high school graduation in 2009 that I found stuck to the back of the closet.
The longer I dug through my wardrobe, the more neglected clothes I found: there was a sequined jumpsuit I wore only once, four pairs of jeans that no longer fit me, and a bunch of other garments I hadn’t worn in years.
As it turned out, more than half the space in my closet was packed with clothes I had no intention of wearing. At all! They weren’t ugly, nor was there anything wrong with them, they simply didn’t suit my ever-changing lifestyle. Hence, I started looking for ideas on how to get rid of my old clothes without sending them to the dump.
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The Answer is Sustainability
Did you know that producing just one pair of jeans consumes up to 10 000 litres of water? Now think about how much water was used to grow the cotton for all your jeans, jackets, and shirts. Every year, people spend up to 60% more on clothing than they did the year before. In the meantime, the number of garments that we extensively wear in everyday life lowers over time.
In Europe, a zero-waste approach to consumption is enjoying its time in the sun, and Ukraine is following this lead. Even before I realised my wardrobe was a mess, I had learned of some Kyiv-based projects like Laska that gather old clothes for charity. Luckily, my friends know many more ideas for recycling clothes. All I had to do was ask!
There are obviously many more ways to put your old clothes to good use, but these six are at the top.
1. Donate to a Local Charity Store
The first Kyiv charity store, Laska, is focused on prolonging the life of used clothes in many different ways. After sorting, 85% of goods received goes to orphanages, nursing homes, low-income families, and animal shelters. The other better quality 15% of items stay in the store for sale. With the money from sales, Laska sponsors charities and invests in its project’s growth.
Laska project manager, Ann Melnychuk, says Laska is on a mission to reduce the amount of textile waste in the world. This is why even t-shirts in very poor condition still serve as raw material for recycled rugs.
Today Laska is more than just a store. It’s a vibrant community of young and active citizens who don’t twiddle their thumbs when it comes to ecological issues. Every year, more than 20 000 people donate to Laska amassing 84 tons of old clothes. You are warmly welcomed to join the club!
2. Send to Orphanages or Single Mothers
You can also take your clothes and footwear to orphanages and low-income families. At this time of the year, warm sweaters, hats, scarves, coats, and shoes are in high demand. Find the nearest orphanage in your neighborhood and contact their manager to organise delivery.
The Facebook group Mama SOS connects volunteers with single mothers who require urgent material assistance. Among other essential things, volunteers are usually looking for clothes to help mothers and their kids.
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3. Sell Online
As they say, someone’s trash is another’s treasure. Selling your garments online is yet another good option for giving your used clothes a longer life. Shafa.ua is a place where unwanted outfits can find new owners. At the moment, this website features more than 5 million items of clothing waiting to be sold. Who knows, maybe your mini skirt from the early 2000s will finally get its second chance?
A few eye-catching photos, a detailed description of the size and fabrics, and the condition of your items will help speed up the sales process.
4. Sell Offline
Once a month, pavilion 19 of the Exporcentre of Ukraine (VDNH) turns into the largest flea market in the city. Since 2014, Kurazh Bazar has been operating as a platform that helps people turn their unusable stuff into cash. However, the main idea of the event is much more.
Kurazh Bazar brings together a flea market, a music festival, a zone with street food, and play area for children. But above all, Kurazh Bazar is a charitable event that regularly donates raised money to good causes.
Every Kurazh Bazar is devoted to a specific theme like the 90s, Bollywood, hip-hop culture, or Christmas. Thousands of urbanites come here to shop, dance, relax, or sell their odds and ends. If you want to showcase yours, fill in the application form on the website. Participation costs 500 UAH.
5. Drop Off at H&M Stores
Two enormous H&M stores are not the only thing that this fashion mass-market giant has brought to Ukraine’s capital. All over the world, H&M Group installs in-store boxes for collecting used clothing. Kyiv is no exception. The H&M initiative works this way: you pack your old garments, underwear, socks, towels, and sheets into a bag, and bring it to the store. The collected clothes and textiles will be sent to H&M’s global sorting partner I:COLUTION for further recycling.
Your efforts are rewarded with a 40 UAH voucher to be spent on your next purchase in H&M stores. You can earn two vouchers at a time, but the H&M team doesn’t set any limits for the amount of stuff to be left in the store.
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6. Restyle or Repurpose
If it’s hard to say goodbye to your favorite yet old-fashioned outfits, redesign them to look trendy. When shortened jeans were having a moment, I took to them with scissors. YouTube features tons of video tutorials on how to restyle old clothes. For example, an oversized T-shirt can be easily turned into a new dress. In case your sewing skills are lacking, a dressmaking studio may come to the rescue.
Before donating your old clothes to orphanages, nursing homes or charity stores, make sure that:
1. You have washed them properly
2. All buttons are in place and zippers work properly
3. Shoes are paired with their laces
4. Clothes are in good condition and will serve other people
5. Donated items fit the current season