5 Ways to Clean (and Green!) Your Closet

The changing of the season provides a great excuse to assess the state of your closet.

a greener closet

Green looks good on you. Creative Commons 3.0 Flickr ninette_luz

Are there things that you haven’t worn all summer that you should probably get rid of?

Do you have all of the warmer items that you’ll need for winter?

While you’re in there, how could you improve storage?

Here are some ways to address these issues and more, while being as earth-conscious as possible:


1. Weed it Out:
There are clothes in there that you haven’t touched for a long time. Ask yourself why you’re keeping them around. Do they have sentimental value? Are you hoping that you’ll lose weight and fit back into them in the future? Or maybe you’re fervently hoping that parachute pants will one day be stylish again.

Weigh these concerns against all of the extra space that you would have if you cleared those items out. Get rid of them the green way by donating them rather than throwing them out. Donating clothes to charitable organizations like the Salvation Army or Goodwill will keep the items out of landfills while offering affordable clothing options to people in need. You could also help support a local business by donating to your local, independently owned thrift store. If that’s not enough of an incentive, there are also resale stores like Plato’s Closet or Buffalo Exchange that will give cash for your clothes before reselling them at reasonable prices.


2. Tailoring:
Maybe there are good quality items that are in your closet collecting dust, but that just don’t fit correctly. Consider getting items like this tailored to perfectly fit your body. A good tailor can make an old garment feel like a brand new one, and tailoring is often less expensive than buying yourself something new. You’ll be conserving and recycling the material from the old item instead of buying something made of new materials and odds are that your local tailor shop is a small, independent business that could use your patronage. If it’s a simple fix like a hem, you could even ask mom or grandma to lend you a hand and/or a sewing machine.

Keep in mind that this applies to old shoes as well! Yes, cobblers do still exist and the odds are good that there’s at least one shoe shop in your area that can help you with shoe or boot repairs.


3. Responsibly Buy New:
While you’re at Plato’s Closet, look around for things you need for your winter wardrobe. Buying used clothes is a great way to recycle and to limit your participation in the modern day, high-waste phenomenon of “fast fasion.” However, it’s not always easy to find used clothes in your size or to find certain specific items. If this is the case, do some research on how to buy new clothes from eco-responsible companies and clothes that are made out of sustainable fabrics.



Wastewater is one of the biggest environmental concerns associated with the textile industry. The chemical treatment, rinsing and dyeing of fabrics creates large amounts of wastewater. Check out earth-friendly stores like Alternative Apparel and Earth Creations. Look for clothes made out of materials like hemp, organic cotton or bamboo or fabrics that were dyed using low-impact methods.


4. Shelving Solution:
If you’re looking to add more shelving for storage, keep in mind that it can be costly to purchase and install shelves. Wall shelving can also leave unsightly marks, which can simply be an eyesore or could get you in trouble with your landlord. Before you get out the hammer and nails, take some time to treasure-hunt in thrift stores, at yardsales, and on Craigslist to find used bookshelves. I found two small bookcases at yardsales this summer for $5 each. One is now holding my sweaters, and the other hosts towels and toilet paper in my utility closet. Neither one is particularly beautiful to look at, but they’re in the closet, they don’t have to be!


5. Just Hanging Out:
If you’re in need of plastic hangers, choose to recycle old hangers rather than buying new ones. A set of 36 hangers sells for around $28.88 at Walmart, which shakes out to about 80 cents a hanger. In contrast, most thrift stores, including Goodwill, sell sets of 10 used plastic hangers for $1, meaning each hanger only costs you 10 cents. According to the EPA, plastic makes up 12 percent of the US solid municipal waste. So save those perfectly good hangers from ending up in a landfill!





Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *