Shrinking your clothing footprint

Shrinking your clothing footprint

If you are anything like me, you have clothes, lots of them. But you don’t like or need ALL of them anymore. What do you do? If you’ve been following CBC’c series Reduce Reuse Rethink, perhaps you’ve seen this article which explains how simply donating unwanted clothing isn’t a sustainable solution. It’s a very ‘downstream’ solution to the problem of too many clothes.

You’ll hear the solution “just buy less,” which I agree with, but it doesn’t address what’s happening in our closet right now. For some people they don’t have a good idea of how to do that. Buying what you want, when you want it, is simple, just incredibly unsustainable.

Here are my solutions to this mired, middle-class issue:

1)      I buy used first – if I determine that I actual need something new, I will generally try to buy it used first. My go-to sources are Value Village, Kijiji, and Facebook buy-and-sell groups. Especially for the kids since they grow out of things so quickly. I find there’s little sense in buying new if we don’t have to.

2)      I fix – If something gets a hole, a broken zipper, loses a button, I make a commitment to repair it at least once. Even if I don’t want it anymore and plan to hand it down to someone else, I make sure it is in good working condition if that’s possible. In the age of YouTube tutorials, there is no excuse not to!

3)      I donate good stuff - I try to only donate things that I think would be worth buying. Only about a quarter of used clothing donations are ever sold – in part because they receive a lot of things that are not in a good condition to be sold.

4)      I use rags – clothing that isn’t really worth re-homing, I turn into rags. We have two kids, and we keep a stash of clean-up rags under the sink. Anyone in the family is able to get one to clean up a spill if needed, even the toddler. This takes the place of paper towel.

5)      I’m picky on where I shop new - If I can’t find what I need used, I’ll borrow, or buy from as ethical of a source as possible. A few of my favorite places right now include Mountain Equipment Coop, family owned or local businesses (like The Better Good in Saskatoon) or Costco.

What’s next? I admit I’m guilty of buying more clothing than I need (or even want to manage and store) – even if I do often buy used. My clothes take up about 3 times the space in our house that my husband’s do. In honour of reducing, I am embarking on a 333 project. I’ll pick out 33 items of clothing to wear for the next 3 months (a few exclusions apply, like underwear). Watch for my results later in the year.