(Photo by Selma Komisky)
How-To: What To Do With Unwanted Closet Items
By Kyle Jane Heskett and Sarah Komisky
Kyle’s Advice: Go Green
The average American throws away about 81 pounds of clothing per year. If that seems like a lot, it is! All that clothing goes into landfills, creating a high amount of waste. There are so many ways we can recycle our unwanted closet items. The next time you feel like throwing clothes in the trash, try one of these fun and creative ways to reuse it!
Donate Your Clothes:
So many people can benefit from your gently used items. There are many organizations you can donate your clothes to, including Goodwill, The Salvation Army, or your local thrift store. It’s as simple as dropping them off. Maybe you even know a family member or friend that cannot afford to buy new clothes. The short amount of time it takes to give your items to another, directly or indirectly, will be a huge blessing to someone else. I also know of people who shop at thrift stores simply to help the environmental waste problem or because that is often where they find the best deals!
Hitting the Pavement:
Similar to the idea above, try joining an organization to donate clothes to the homeless. Recently, a few friends of mine and I teamed up with a non-profit organization called Down But Not Out for a night of serving the homeless in downtown Los Angeles on Skid Row. We set up stations for people to come and get food, toilet paper, some toiletries, and clothes. The people were so grateful and it was an eye-opening, amazing experience. If you decide to do something similar, make sure you find a trustworthy organization to partner with for safety and security reasons. If you are in the Los Angeles area, check out Down But Not Out on Facebook!
Start a Free Day:
Once and a while, the members of our church have a “free day” where we set up our unwanted items in the courtyard and anyone can pick up something they may want. In fact, one of my favorite shirts that I wear all the time used to belong to my pastor’s wife! Find out what friends of yours are interested in a free day and try setting something up.
Have a Yard Sale:
Who doesn’t love a good yard sale? There are people who spend their Saturday’s finding the best yard sales in town as a hobby! It may take planning and hard work to put on a yard sale, but try asking your friends, the neighborhood, and family to pitch in. Create some eye-catching signs to put around the neighborhood to direct people to your location. You and whoever helped can split the earnings.
Start a Craft Project:
If you can create something new out of something old, you can save so much waste! I once bought a maxi dress that I wore for a special occasion. It looked a little too fancy to wear to anything else. But I cut it in half and made it a knee length dress. When I wear it with a jean jacket, it is as casual as can be! You may be thinking that you are not artistic enough to do any of this. That’s ok! Just give things a try. You may be surprised what you can do. I have a friend who used old jeans to make coasters. She also had a blanket made out of all her old t-shirts. For some craft ideas, check out the link below from Good House Keeping.
Sarah’s Advice: Trade, Give, and Sell
One of the things my friends and loved ones know about me is that I LOVE fashion. Changing my style over the years, I’ve found that the pieces I love are those that are unique and meaningful. Every now and again I like to sift through my closet. A good rule of thumb is to go through it periodically. I like to do inventory when I buy something new. Another good thing is to assess after a time of change. Maybe your body has changed or you yourself have found a new look, that’s a great reason to look through your closet. Also, getting a little practical is essential. Do you have too many of certain items? Do you have too less of another? Do you have something that you don’t really love or are you hanging on to something you need to let go? Keep what you need and love and put aside the rest to give trade, give away, or be sold. Let’s get started!
It is not uncommon for me to text a pic of shoes or a shirt or dress with the words “up for grabs.” One time I had a thread of a few friends saying yes to the cute cherry red retro heels. Soon my bestie won them and gave them to her sister. Trading clothes is so much fun. Something you might be over, might be treasure to someone else. Host a trade party and invite your friends to bring their stuff. Set it up like a rummage sale, share some food, and have fun!
Giving is truly better than receiving and what better way to do it than with your friends? Get your unwanted clothes that are gently used and give them to a good cause. Marked Ministry two years ago banned together and gave our clothes to a non-profit that supported females that were coming out of the sex trafficking industry. What a great way to give back in community! Another idea is to give a piece of clothing that is meaningful to someone who needs it most. I recently gave some of my colorful scarfs to a few of my tween pals who could add them to their collection. Not only did it make them happy and feel special, it also made me feel good!
When I want to say goodbye to some of my vintage and retro-inspired pieces of clothing, I like to re-sell them. I often ask local vintage or thrift stores if they buy and take my bundle of clothes over. Usually the store is looking for unusual pieces, brand names, and trending items in good condition. They will give a percentage of money back or store credit for clothes. So whether you decide to sell or trade, I say it’s a win/win with recycled fashion! My favorite go-to store is DeeLux but I also like trying out local stores and small businesses where I can form relationships and negotiate reasonable prices. For stores that buy, trade, and sell, check our local listing online including consignment stores. Remember to limit your clothing amount to two bags and call in advance for an appointment. Another way to make a little cash is to have a yard sale, getting your community involved will also ensure more foot traffic. Even if you make a small amount, it adds up and it is also a great way to get to know your neighbors.
If you have any more ideas of what to do with unwanted closet items, put it in the comments section! We’d love to hear about them.