The Purge: Closet Edition

Its that time of year again! I’m guessing I’m not the only one that has an annual closet purge, and honestly, I usually bask in it. There’s something that feels so good to me about decluttering and starting fresh, but this year was different.

I eliminated an astounding 44 pieces of clothing from my wardrobe. Even more shocking: my closet still looks completely full… this is when it really hit me.

I haven’t been living out the values that I “think” I hold.

The proof was right in front of me!

I’ve always known that clothing consumption in Westernized countries is out of control. I mean, what a beautiful thing it is to have so many high fashion, low price tag clothing stores at our disposal. But at what price does your re-buying your wardrobe each season cost… besides the monetary?

In case you aren’t sure why this industry is so bad, check out this video:

So let’s recap the facts:

  • Fast fashion workers experience terrible working conditions including lack of safety, low pay, and child labour
  • The fashion industry is the second largest polluter of water, uses fossil fuels, consumes a LOT of trees, and uses coal burning factories to produce its clothing
  • If that isn’t bad enough, we as individuals end up creating 82 pounds of clothing waste each year… which eventually ends up in a landfill

And in saying all of this, I feel terrible because although I’m donating or putting my clothes into consignment as I’m trying to declutter my closet (and life), all of my sh*t will be going out into “the system” regardless.

So here’s my promise to myself, and anyone else who gets a bad feeling in their stomach when they buy something that ends up being worn only once:

I will…

Start Buying Good Quality Staple Pieces

Much like your common bumble bee, I am attracted to anything floral. The problem is, florals match with hardly ANYTHING and a lot of the styles don’t stand the test of time. When I think staple pieces, I think of solid colors, with classic designs. This rule no longer just applies to your little black dress (otherwise known as LBD), it’s time to apply that to your whole wardrobe.

Buy Locally and/or Sustainably

When I discovered the yoga clothing company Inner Fire, I was jazzed in the nerdiest way possible. Made in Vancouver with recycled water bottles, this example is local sustainability at its finest. A lot of their funky designs go against guideline number 1, but not to worry: their pants also come in a classic black.

I love this guideline because supporting local businesses feels AMAZING vs giving money to a chain store yet again, and inspires future entrepreneurs to innovate and keep making products with a conscience.

I know what you’re thinking: I can’t afford shopping at those types of stores!

To that, my friend, I say that you’re better off researching, saving for, and savouring pieces that will last you a long time, rather than buying a cheaply made item that will last you half a year. If you think about it, by carefully selecting clothing that you want instead of buying on impulse, you end up saving a TON of money in the long run.

Shop Consignment

“If one million women bought their next item of clothing secondhand instead of new, we would save 6 million kg. of carbon pollution from entering the atmosphere” – 1 Million Women Campaign

This is the clothing industries “reuse” equivalent out of the classic “reduce, reuse, recycle”. By shopping at consignment stores, you save money while you are saving clothing pieces from ending up in the landfill. Win-win if you ask me!

I admit that I need to have more patience to find those diamond in the rough second hand items, but it is possible. Months ago I found a plain grey (staple piece) shirt at a consignment shop, and I’ve now worn it more often than pretty much anything else in my closet.

Buy Less

Even with all of these tips, I wouldn’t have had to throw out 44 pieces of clothing that I didn’t like if I just bought less stuff in the first place! I firmly believe that clothing related waste will become more of a rarity if we all follow the top 3 steps.

Ask yourself: do I REALLY need this?

When the average American creates 82 pounds of clothing related garbage each year, can you imagine how things would change if each of us had no need to throw anything out when it came time to do that annual purge?

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