How to Reduce Clothing Waste and Be More Sustainable

6 ways to reduce clothing waste header

April 22nd is Earth Day, which is focused on educating about environmental issues and protecting the planet. Since there are hundreds of millions of items of clothing that end up in the landfill each year, I wanted to share a post on ways to reduce clothing waste and how you can become more sustainable.

Shop Your Closet

A great place to start your sustainable fashion journey is to shop your closet in that you wear what you already own. If you have not worn a piece of clothing in a while, pull it out and try to create a new outfit with it. You can also try to create new outfits with the clothes you regularly wear and pair them with different items of clothing or accessories for a new look. Jenni from I on Image has a wonderful post on how to Shop Your Closet Like A Stylist that is definitely worth a read! When you shop your closet, you might realize that you really do not need that new shirt or dress.

Repair Damaged Clothes

If you have stopped wearing a piece of clothing because there was a rip in it or a button fell off, you can sew it and wear it again. If you do not know how to hand sew, I would recommend these YouTube videos on How to Sew a Hole, How to Repair a Tear in Jeans, and How to Sew a Button. You can also bring the piece of clothing to a tailor or seamstress if you do not want to repair the clothing yourself. Furthermore, you can repair worn shoes by bringing them to a shoe repair shop to replace a zipper, repair or replace the soles or heel cap, or stitch rips and tears. However, if the clothing is beyond repair, that brings me to my next point.

Repurpose Worn Clothes

Instead of throwing out your worn clothing, try to find a new purpose for it. The most popular way to repurpose clothing is to turn it into cleaning rags or pillows. However, you can also turn the clothing into accessories for your other clothes like a patch or a pocket or you can also make a scarf, belt, headband, scrunchie, necklace, or bracelet. You can make the clothing into a tote bag, backpack, coin purse, handkerchief, or makeup wipes or turn it into a dog bed cover, toy or bandana. If the piece of clothing holds sentimental value, you can make it into a teddy bear, quilt, or blanket. For tutorials on how to repurpose your clothing, Google and YouTube are great places to start.

Donate Good Quality Clothes

If you have clothes that you do not wear, but they are still in good condition, do not throw them away. First see if you have a family member or friend who wants the clothes. You can also try selling them online, and I will mention websites in my point below. Even though donating your clothes to a thrift store is better than tossing them in the trash, only 10-20% of the clothing that is donated will be sold locally. About half of the donations a thrift store receives will make it onto the shelves, and at most half of those clothes are sold. So what happens to the other 80-90% of donated clothes? About 25% of clothes will be sold second-hand abroad, 30% of clothes will be cut into rags for industrial use, 20% is reprocessed into fiber filling for furniture and home insulation, which leaves 5% of donated clothes ending up in the landfill. That may not seem like a lot, but worldwide hundreds of millions of pieces of clothing end up in the landfill each year. Even though donating is better than throwing your old clothes in the trash, it may not always be the best option especially if your clothing is not in good condition. To ensure that your donated clothing is not part of the 5% that ends up in the landfill, only donate clothes that are new or gently worn and do not donate clothes with holes, stains, bad smells, broken zippers, or missing buttons. If your clothes are not in good condition, you can try to repurpose them or you can donate them to a textile recycling center instead.

Buy Second-hand

Shopping at thrift stores is a great way to find affordable clothing, and you are able to give the clothing a second life. However, you do not know what you will find, and the thrift store might not have what you are looking for or they might not have your size, which can be frustrating. But, you may find treasures and you will not know until you go. Also local thrift stores often help out the community, and the thrift store in my parents’ city donates its profits to local nonprofits, community organizations, and individuals in need. In my city, one of my favorite thrift stores donates its profits to the Danish Cancer Society, which second-hand shops make up 12% of their funding. As well as physical thrift stores, you can buy and sell on online marketplaces like Depop, Mercari, Poshmark, thredUP, OfferUp, Vinted, Tradesy, eBay, and Facebook Marketplace. You can also browse Etsy for vintage and upcycled clothes or for clothing in more unique styles like gothic-lolita. By shopping online at second-hand marketplaces, it is easier to find the best bargains for what you are looking for, and most sellers will mention how many times they wore the clothing and if there is any damage. However, by shopping online there is always the possibility that the seller will not send you the clothing you purchased, so be sure to check the reviews of the seller before buying. Lastly, you can participate in clothing swap meetups where you and others trade clothes or you can even look into renting clothes. Buying second-hand or having a clothing swap is a great way to get new clothes without supporting the overproduction of clothing and contributing to the amount of clothing that ends up in the landfill.

Shop Sustainble Brands

It is inevitable that at some point you may need new clothes or you simply want something new that you cannot find second-hand. Rather than shopping at fast fashion brands like H&M, Zara, Primark, New Look, ASOS, Boohoo, Fashion Nova, Missguided, Pretty Little Thing, and Shein who overproduce clothes, pollute the environment, and exploit their workers including children, shop at sustainable brands that pay their workers fair wages and use environmentally friendly fabrics. Furthermore, sustainable brands have higher quality clothing that lasts longer than the clothing from fast fashion brands. The blog Outlandish is a great resource on sustainable fashion, and Teresa has helpful posts on the Best Sustainable Fashion Brands, 11 Sustainable, Size-Inclusive, and Affordable Brands, and 13 Affordable and Sustainable Jean Brands.

By wearing and repairing the clothes you have, donating clothes in good condition, and shopping second-hand and from sustainale brands, you will help reduce clothing waste and become more sustainable. If you are looking for more ways to be sustainable, you can read Becky’s post on 50 Simple Ways To Be Eco Friendly as well as my post on Eco-Friendly Beauty and Personal Care Proucts and my review of the WUKA Period Pants.

The Lifestyle Ladies Blog Collab logo with purple flowers in the center and the name written around the flowers

The Lifestyle Ladies Blog Collab is a collaboration between myself and 7 other amazing ladies, and every month we will write a post relating to the collab on our own blogs.

For this month, our theme is Earth Day 🌍

Have you taken any steps to reduce clothing waste?

6 ways to reduce clothing waste to be more sustainable Pinterest pin

61 thoughts on “How to Reduce Clothing Waste and Be More Sustainable

  1. I’m in the process of recycling old torn clothes. Some of the prints will be cut out for patches and my Hello Kitty shirts are being cut out ans sewn on to blank shirts. It’ll take a while but hopefully I’ll have some interesting clothes to put back in my closet.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. These are some great ideas! A lot of my current wardrobe pieces are second hand. I love a good rummage through the charity shops or browsing EBay. I’ve got a few items of clothing that need repairing or repurposing – jeans into shorts, and cutting the sleeves off cardigans to make vests, etc.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Great tips! I can’t promote enough how important it is to buy second hand – & sell second hand too which a lot of us sometimes forget. I buy all my clothes from Depop or charity shops – then for bras etc. I make sure to get high quality.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This is a great post. I’ve been trying to be very careful about my clothes for the last few years. I try to buy things I know will last, and take good care of them. I’m not into fast fashion at all. I love shopping secondhand, and I’ve gotten some great pieces in thrift stores.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! That’s great you’ve been putting more consideration into the clothes you buy & you’ve found some great pieces in thrift stores!
      Years ago I used to shop from fast fashion brands all the time, but when I learned about the bad side of fast fashion, I changed my ways.


    1. Thank you! That’s awesome you’re going to turn your old shirts into a quilt & I would like to see how it turns out! That’s also great you donate your clothes to clothing drives!


    1. Thanks! That’s great you changed the way you shop & you’re putting more consideration into the clothes you buy. Several years ago I went through the same change & I used to shop at H&M all the time but now I’ve been mainly shopping second-hand.


  5. I LOVE your post!! There’s so much helpful information here, and so many great tips. I honestly feel like I learned a lot from reading this! It’s sometimes difficult to know what to do with damaged clothing and clothes you can no longer fit into, so I think your post will help lots of people. I’m excited to try making scrunchies with some of my old clothes! I’ve also been planning to sell some clothes on eBay, I just need to get around to taking pictures of them. Thank you so much for sharing this!! 😊💞

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much & that’s great to hear you learned a lot from my post!
      Yes exactly! Back then when there was a rip in my clothes, my first reaction was to throw it in the back of my wardrobe & forget it & sometimes I would throw them in the trash… Now I repair them or repurose it!
      That’s great you’re going to sell some of your clothes on eBay!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You’re very welcome! 😊 And I really did! It was so educational in how to reuse and repurpose old clothes. I had no idea what to do with clothes like that before, besides donating them. But like you pointed out, that isn’t a foolproof method for the clothes being reused either. I think it’s awesome you’re taking such great steps to cut down on waste and protect the environment! Keep at it! 😄🎶 Yes, I’m hoping I’ll be able to find new homes and fresh life for some of my clothes by selling there!

        Liked by 1 person

  6. I love love love going through my closet and donating as many clothes as I can that are not in use or don’t fit me or my style anymore. Over the past couple years I’ve also tried to very intentional about how much I’m buying and ensuring items are not going to sit in my closet collecting dust. Thanks for sharing these types – lots of great ideas to reduce waste!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s great you’ve been donating clothes that you don’t wear or they don’t fit anymore!
      Yes years ago I would shop at H&M all the time but when I learned about fast fashion I stopped my ways & started shopping more at thrift stores & only buying clothing I know I would wear.


    1. Thank you! That’s great you haven’t bought any new clothes and you have been wearing what you already own instead. Yes! There’s no need to buy new clothes when you already have clothes for any situation.


  7. I love Teresa’s blog, it’s full of brilliant tips. And I haven’t heard the phrase shop your closet before but I love that. Also repurposing, it’s amazing what a difference a patch or a brooch can make to an outfit, it gives it a whole new vibe. Fab post, Karalee, thank you! x

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Buying second hand and donating are things I’ve always done – but I have never tried to repare clothing. I should look into turning old items into something new!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. This is such a great post Karalee! As someone with a smaller closet, I’ve always tried to minimize my clothing. I try to stick to one new outfit Spring/Summer and Fall/Winter and give away anything I haven’t worn in the past year. I love the idea of shopping your closet for new outfit ideas! Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I used to be terrible and buy far too many clothes! Without exaggerating, it was a form of addiction. In the last couple of years, however, I’ve turned the corner. I sold and donated 60% of my wardrobe and only buy sustainable, good quality pieces. Thank you for this post.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. What a great post Karalee! I’ve been trying to be not only very selective of what I buy, but also not buy random bits just for the sake of spending money this past year. I don’t need more than what I have and considering the space too, I do not have the place to store things.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! That’s great you’re being more conscious about what you buy & I used to buy clothing just because it was on sale but now I don’t since I don’t need it.


  12. These are all such great points. I started looking into fast fashion last year and it is shocking the impact fashion has on our planet! Awareness and ideas like these are so helpful for combatting the problem. I try and shop second hand for my clothing. I also LOVE clothing swaps and can’t wait for the pandemic to be over so we can have them again 🙂


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