As the consumer culture begins to change and people decide that they don’t need so much ‘stuff’ anymore to have a happy, simple and minimalist life, it opens a big question as to what do we do with all the stuff we realise we don’t need anymore…
With scary figures coming out about the horrific amount of used clothing dumped on charity stores, and the flow on effects from western consumer cultures effectively making their waste someone else’s problem - it has become apparent that the methods we have all been using for years are no longer a viable, sustainable or ethical way to ‘dispose’ of our old belongings.
So what do we do with it all??? Obviously, piling the boxes or bags high in your garage is not a solution, nor is burning it in the back yard - but there has to be something we can do to make sure our once loved clothes and other bits and bobs, find their way to a home where they will be useful.
I’ve done a bit of research for you, because I know time, money and skills-gaps can be a big issue when it comes to the usual suggestion of recycle, restyle or reuse. The following are some new ideas for what we can do with our old stuff:
1. Attend a fashion swap meet:
Across Australia and the world, fashion entrepreneurs are investing their love for vintage and preloved clothing into organising events and running stores which enable people to bring in secondhand clothes and sell or swap them for store credit. There are guidelines as to what they will take of course, but this is a great way to ensure your good items go to a good home. Try The Clothing Exchange in Sydney & Melbourne. Or Penny Lane Exchange in Melbourne. Brisbane and Adelaide, can try SWOP. Alternatively, why not organise your own clothing swap? Invite a group of friends over for wine and cheese, and get them to bring over their freshly washed clothes for a swap meet. Check out the Planet Ark website and get involved in National Recycle Week by holding your own party.
2. Donate to specific charities:
Okay, so we don’t want to be dumping our junk on the usual charities like Vinnies and the Salvos, but what about charities that specialise in clothing specific people within our communities. From Refugee Groups to Return to Work Charities, there is sure to be someone who would value your donation of good casual and work attire. Check out Fitted for Work or Wear For Success in Sydney and Melbourne. Suited to Success in Brisbane or Adelaide. Refugee organisations are often in need of food, furniture, computers, mobile phones and household items, check out Australian Refugee Org in Adelaide or House of Welcome in Sydney.
3. Donate your bras:
There are some items that charity stores are in fact always needing more of, and one of those is decent bras. If you have some of these, drop them (IN A BAG!!) into your nearest charity bin.
4. Make household items you always use:
Turn your old t-shirts into shopping bags, cleaning cloths, rags or tea towels - a super easy thing to do! For a bag, simply sew the bottom hems together to make the base of the bag, and cut out the sleeves and neckline to make the handles. Leave as much fabric as possible so the handles are strong and don’t need reinforcing. Check out this ‘No-Sew’ version from Mommypotamus. The sleeves can then be reused and washed as cleaning cloths or rags in the garage. Other items can just be cut in large squares or circles and used as they are.
5. Turn clothes into costumes for your children (or dolls clothes):
Okay, this is where you will need some basic sewing skills. Kids love to imitate their parents, and love to dress up like their favourite movie characters - use the fabric from your old garments to make kids costumes for when they have friends over. Tip: use your child’s existing clothes as a basic pattern to cut the fabric out, and allow up to 4 cm extra around the seams to make up for not being a perfectly fitted or sewn costume. Alternatively, cut fabric into strips, shapes or large pieces to add to your child’s art and craft box. Check out this post from PopSugar.
6. Turn your clothes into new clothes for your kids:
More advanced sewing skills may be required, or a visit from Grandma to help out. There are tons of examples online (especially on Pinterest) about turning adult clothes into kids clothes and they are super cute. (Might even be a great business/markets idea in there for someone who discovers they love to sew!) Check out this article from Mother Earth News. For non-sewers, here are some hacks for restyling your old clothes into new ones for yourself no machine required, via Cute DIY Projects.
7. Think of your old clothes as 'fabrics' and let your imagination run wild:
There are heaps of items we use on a daily basis that are fabric or could be made from fabrics from your old clothing. Here are a few great articles about repurposing clothing and other fabric items into something new from Brit + Co.
But I’d love to also hear from you!
What could you turn your old clothing items into so they don’t have to go to charity? Comment below or join our Facebook Group and share your ideas and photos with us.