As the new year brings hope for new or renewed habits, it’s a good reminder to be more mindful of our actions and belongings. Now, whether that’s peeking into our lives—or our closets—to declutter everything that doesn’t spark joy, we’re then left with the age-old question: so what now? If you want some inspiration on doing a closet detox, read how I “shopped from my closet” for 30 days. Upon culling the items we don’t wear anymore, the last thing we should do is trash them. Did you know, that Singapore produced 168,000 tonnes of textile waste in 2019, and only 4% was recycled? Instead, look to these ways for inspiration on what to do with your old clothes.
If they’re in great condition
1. Sell or rent them out! This is a great way to give your clothes to someone who will appreciate them more, and get some extra moolah. There are many sites that let you sell your preloved items such as Style Tribute, Depop, or Refash and Carousell in Singapore. Even check out peer-renting platforms such as Just Borrowed that let you rent out your items, and get the most out of your clothes!
2. Swap them. If you’re sure you won’t wear them again, why not swap them in for items you do like! The most important part is these clothes won’t go to waste, and one person’s trash is another person’s treasure! Places like The Fashion Pulpit lets you do curated swaps on a membership. You can also try to organise your own community swap with friends and family. Remember: the preloved fashion you swap should be the same quality you’d expect to pick up for yourself!
If they’re not your style or size
3. Remake, repair or tailor it. If you’re good with your hands, try to remake something out of your unworn garments. Got a pair of jeans you hardly wear? Make shorts or a skirt out of it, maybe even a tote bag. Go beyond just remaking – try dyeing or embroidering too! If sewing isn’t your forte, consider getting your ill-fitting clothes altered to your liking by a professional tailor. This way, your old clothes become something totally new and unique because you personalized it.
4. Donate them. We’ve all heard horror stories about donated clothes ending up thrown in landfills. So why not donate to places who genuinely need and will use what you have to offer. We made a list of places in Singapore where you can donate your old clothes so that they are put to use and not stuck in another country’s resale stock. A quick tip: look to Facebook pages specifically asking for donations for families in need, or list them on Facebook’s marketplace to get them picked up by interested takers.
If they’re not in great condition
5. Upcycle/DIY. You might have some old ratty stuff that you can’t wear, even if you personalise them. So, get crafty and try out some online tutorials on how to turn your old t-shirts into household items or fun accessories. A fun and productive pastime, bingo! P.S. don’t throw away any old cotton t-shirts, they make for great cleaning rags and a great alternative to hair towels as they leave your hair frizz-free. Here’s some inspo, guides and accounts you can follow!
6. Recycle. For all the clothes that are just too holey, the bags and shoes that have lost their shine, and other stuff you don’t want ending up in the trash – recycle them. Find brands that have take-back programmes, such as Patagonia or Levis. While many fast fashion stores have ‘recycle bins’ such as H&M or Uniqlo, in their stores, if you’re unsure of where the clothes go or how exactly they are recycled, look to more trusted places. There are some textile recycling initiatives that will truly recycle the fibres from your clothes, or downcycle them into insulation or stuffing. Another point to note is that recycling should be your last resort. Not all textiles that we send to recycling centres get recycled (less than 1% actually). Here are some tips to keep in mind before recycling.
- You can’t recycle blended fabrics. As we don’t have the technology to separate most cotton-poly or silk-nylon blends, they end up trashed. Instead, you can send your pure cotton or synthetic garments to be recycled at specific facilities. A little bit of research will go a long way!
- Natural fibres like undyed and untreated (organic) cotton, linen, hemp, wool and silk are biodegradable. So consider sending them to a composting facility instead. Leather is also biodegradable, but it will release a lot of methane as it degrades, so it’s best to reuse it to its fullest to delay the release of more toxins into the environment.
- Before recycling your clothes, save any zippers, buttons or hardware and accessories to reuse the next time for your or someone else’s project.
- Don’t send wet or mouldy clothes to recycle for sanitary and efficiency reasons.