As we find ourselves spending more time at home, why not tackle that classic conundrum – a wardrobe bursting at the seams and nothing to wear.
Local sustainable fashion advocate and founder of Britt’s List, Brittanie Dreghorn, is here to help us shake our fast-fashion habits, clear out our wardrobes and reduce our fashion footprints.
Your sustainable clean out starts at the shops
Have you ever thrown away something you've only worn once? If so, you're not alone – about a quarter of Australians have done this. On the upside, that means about a quarter of us have the power to make a big difference, by bringing a bit of order into our wardrobes and reducing textile waste in landfill.
Best of all, you don't need to sacrifice your style to be sustainable! Britt also believes this and says the first thing you need to think about before a wardrobe clean out (and before you even purchase a new piece of clothing) is the item's end of life.
“In Australia, we buy 27 kilograms of clothing per person every year,” says Britt, “we also throw away 23 kilograms of clothing.”
This is just the textiles that go straight to landfill – it doesn’t account for the thousands of kilos of clothing recycled via charity shops.
“There is no such thing as ‘away’; your clothes will have to go somewhere,” Britt says.
“Ask yourself why you are removing the item from your wardrobe and why you bought the piece in the first place, so this doesn't happen again.”
Be mindful about your cleanout
Having a sustainable wardrobe doesn't mean we have to hoard every piece of clothing we don't like, wear or fit into. It's about making sustainable fashion choices when shopping and being mindful when we need to do a cleanout.
Britt's top tips for an eco-friendly wardrobe clean out - social distance style
- Try your luck at selling your clothes on eBay or Facebook Marketplace to give them a new life, while making some extra cash. The trick here is not to overprice your items and to photograph them well. Alternatively, save your clean-out spoils and try to sell them all in one go by setting up a rack at a second-hand clothing market at a later date.
- Gift your preloved clothes to friends and family.
- Donate, donate, donate! Sending your clothing to landfill should always be the very last resort. Recycle your clothing by donating to a charity op shop, or save them and take them to a Council Treasure Trove once it's safe to do so.
- Consider new uses for your fabrics. Can it be repurposed into cleaning rags for your home? Could they be cut up and turned into beeswax wraps (perfect for anything 100% cotton).
- Donate old towels, sheets and blankets to animal shelters.
Resist the fast fashion trap
Now that your wardrobe is looking lean and tidy, resist the temptation to fill it back up again. Break up with fast fashion and find new ways to revive and restyle what you already have.
If you do get the urge to shop, hit up a local second-hand seller, hunt for a thrifted bargain in store or online, or borrow something from a friend.
“The most sustainable piece of clothing is one already in your wardrobe, a close second is second-hand,” says Britt.
Revived clothing tips
By recycling clothing, you can avoid sending textiles to landfill and feel good about what you wear, while doing your bit for the environment.
When buying pre-loved fashion, remember:
- go in with an open mind and embrace the unexpected
- classic clothing never dates, so invest in timeless pieces made from quality fabrics
- imagine how these new treasures will fit in with pieces in your existing wardrobe
- have fun with it.
Share your revived style and help inspire others to shop second-hand by sharing your finds on social media using the hashtag #ReviveBNE.
Watch our Sustainable wardrobe hacks video below, or watch it on Council's YouTube channel.
This blog was updated in August 2021.