How to Sustainably Downsize Your Wardrobe While Upgrading Your Look


Your closet is overflowing and you’ve realized it’s time to change. Minimalist trends and satisfying decluttering videos have inspired you. But it wouldn’t be a proper closet clearout if you just threw every old article of clothing into the trash. Satisfying wardrobe curation demands a more eco-friendly eye. 

Learn how to reduce clothing waste while defining your personal style for the long term.

Sustainable Downsizing

The sweaters are old and stretched and the colors scream dull and faded. It is a fabric mountain, full of pieces leaving you uninspired. Deciding what to purge is a rewarding test of resolve. How do you get into the right mindset before responsibly disposing of the pieces that didn’t make the cut?

Know the Climate Impact of Fashion

Make decisions easier by knowing the carbon footprint of clothes first. Facing reality and doing research will reframe every choice, putting the planet first.

Fashion produces up to 8% of the world’s carbon emissions. The number varies widely for several reasons. First, it depends on what type of energy the brand uses. Some employ renewables, while others remain entrenched in fossil fuels.

The industry consumes 79 trillion liters of water, which brands exploit and pollute. Chemical-ridden dyes, deforestation and environmental degradation pollute aquatic ecosystems. The negative impact is evident throughout fashion’s supply chain. It worsens after reaching the consumer, yielding 92 million tons of waste yearly worldwide.

Knowing these facts should help guide a more sustainable decluttering process.

Set an Intention

Why do you want to declutter your closet? It could be because the clothes don’t feel flattering on you or they hold too many memories. Discover your motivation and hold onto it while going through the clothes. You can even write it down or repeat it to yourself. You will need a grounding statement to overcome mental resistance.

Getting rid of clothes is challenging because you may regret spending the money or don’t want to rehome a gift. Facing these feelings makes the process mentally taxing. However, relying on a clear intention will constantly remind you to keep going. Plus, it makes the decluttering process more effective and ruthless.

Donate, Sell and Gift Broadly

When all of your clothes are in front of you, separating them into two piles — keep and throw away — is the default. More avenues exist to repurpose your clothes.

Consider doing a clothing swap with friends. Are there pieces they want to get rid of, too? You encourage more sustainable downsizing while saving money and bringing new items in. You can also gift and sell lightly used items to loved ones or on platforms like Depop and Poshmark.

A donation pile is a must. The minimalist revolution caused many to question the efficacy of companies accepting donations. You increase the likelihood of clothes getting a second chance by looking locally. Start making calls to nonprofits.

Around 80% of donated clothing goes to landfills, but there are ways to lower this number. Do research and donate to reputable organizations. Women’s shelters, homeless support and recovery centers are wonderful places to start. Talk to volunteers to verify if they need new clothes. If they don’t accept donations, check elsewhere. Additionally, only donate clean items in good condition to increase the chance they are sold and reused. Explore other ethical disposal options for damaged items.

Explore Textile Recycling

There may be no viable donation opportunities near you. Instead, check to see if local recycling facilities take textiles. Some items beyond repair should at least turn into a new fabric or product. Online retailers may accept clothing if you ship them, crafting refurbished clothes.

Cull With the Future in Mind

You must do more than eliminate half your clothes to downsize sustainably. You might want to shop after decluttering because it’s tempting to fill the gaps you created. Resist this urge, because you may develop unsustainable shopping habits again. Responsible decluttering demands you consider the long term and these tips ensure you don’t revert to old habits:

  • Only keep clothes that fit well.
  • Choose items that make you feel confident.
  • Pick items that bring you joy.
  • Don’t keep clothes out of guilt.

Curated Wardrobe Designing

It’s crucial to rewire your habits and beliefs about fashion to keep it eco-conscious. Deciding what you like best and sticking to it is sustainable for a few reasons. Fashion has always operated in seasons, telling buyers what’s hip now. The urgency promotes excessive shopping and a perpetual evolution of your style. You never find what you love because you only wear what’s popular.

Prioritizing your taste over what’s fashionable opposes this mentality. Consider what colors, fabrics and silhouettes you love and stick to them. Then, you can avoid the rest of the noise trying to sway you in a different direction.

You should also design a versatile closet. You should be able to wear every item in more than one way. It means you improve the cost-per-wear of each item and see its intrinsic value in diverse settings. These are the ideas behind the capsule wardrobe philosophy, which has inspired countless to practice more mindful fashion.

Maintaining the Perfect Closet

You lightened your closet’s load with green intentions. What do you need to do to promise long-term success?

Mend Instead of Replace

If something rips or gets a hole in it, the gut reaction is to buy a replacement. Reducing your textile waste contribution requires you to repair clothes before chucking them. Do research for a local sewer or alterations business. You may even reach out to experienced friends or family members for help. Broken zippers, small holes and popped buttons aren’t justifications for sending clothes to landfills.

Fixing clothes must become the default to lessen the frequency people shop. It also deepens your relationship with the items, as you realize how much care they need. Maintaining the quality of clothing is more important than buying a shiny novelty from a fast fashion outlet. 

To preserve durability, consider washing clothes less frequently in less astringent solutions. You can also hang dry to minimize wear and tear.

Shop Ethically or Secondhand

Choose what options suit you depending on your budget. Supporting sustainable clothing brands is vital for changing the fashion industry. Corporations will change to meet consumer wishes if people stray from fast fashion. 

Make more discerning consumer choices by getting used to researching before committing to a top. Look on a brand’s website for sustainability commitments, third-party certifications and impact reports. This helps you avoid accidentally investing in a company that is greenwashing.

Thrifting is another valuable option because it leverages resources humans already have. This is better than encouraging companies to create new lines every season. Plenty of items are on the market, and supporting secondhand is a vote against harvesting new materials.

Learn About Eco-Friendly Fibers

It’s easier to keep a minimalist wardrobe if you avoid unsustainable fabrics. Here are some of the most popular yet environmentally destructive materials on the market:

  • Leather
  • Acrylic
  • Fur
  • Polyester
  • Rayon
  • Nylon

Instead, opt for bamboo, hemp and linen. Wool, silk and cotton are also ideal if from ethical businesses. It would help if you also supported recycled and upcycled pieces.

Your Green Closet

Revel in your gorgeous closet, which is only full of clothes you love. It feels better to wear everything in it because you made mindful, eco-friendly decisions. Fashion is one of the most environmentally impactful sectors on Earth, and individual action makes a difference. Everyone must rally to change their relationship with clothes to inspire corporate shifts. Then, fashion’s adverse effects will fade into memory toward a greener, yet stylish, tomorrow.

Scroll to Top