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Clearing out your wardrobe, the sustainable way

New year, new wardrobe? Good news – decluttering your clothes doesn't have to damage the planet.

For many of us, the first months of the year are filled with personal pledges and intentions to do and be better. It's an opportunity for a fresh start; a blank slate. An easy place to start? The stream of clothes cascading from your wardrobe, inching its way towards your resolutely clutter-free mind.

So it's time for a closet clear-out. Ready to fully embrace this blank slate mentality, you might be tempted to start filling up the plastic bags and take things right back to basics. But in truth, this impulsivity – while likely to cleanse your mind and space in the short term – will likely lead to purger's regret, and a whole lot of waste.

In the UK, more than 30% of our unwanted clothing winds up in landfills each year. That amounts to 459 Olympic swimming pools' worth. By disposing of your clothes the thoughtful way, you can make sure you're not part of that statistic. Read on for our simple tips, and prepare to fall back in love with your wardrobe.

Take it to a tailor

Look at your wardrobe and ask yourself, ‘do these things really need to go?’ If there are pieces in there that you’re struggling to part with but they don’t feel current (or no longer fit), there’s a simple solution. Any local tailor will be happy to help you turn that not-quite-right style into something you’ll love wearing. Just like when you go to the hairdressers, bring along some photos of similar designs that feel more ‘you’ and watch the magic happen. We're happy to recommend top-tier tailors in the Edinburgh area, and we also offer an in-store alternation service for any treen pieces you buy that could fit a little better.

And the same rule the same applies to jewellery. There are skilled metalsmiths who will take your outdated family heirlooms and customise them to your liking; all you have to do is bring along some references from your Instagram or Pinterest saves. Check out this in-depth article by Vogue to find out more about your options.

Pass on to a new home

Not having a use for something doesn't make it ‘waste’. Chances are someone you know will be overjoyed at the prospect of receiving a bag full of free clothes – or someone you don’t know. Charities like Smart Works or women’s shelters across the UK will put your goods to good use, passing them on to people who aren’t in a position to buy a whole new wardrobe. If you can’t find a local non-profit that feels right for you, we can guarantee your nearest charity shop will be delighted to take your unwanted clothes off your hands.

The same applies to make-up and toiletries. Unused and sealed? Find a Beauty Bank or The Hygiene Bank in your area and donate. Or, if your products have been lightly used, homeless shelters or women’s refuges will likely take these donations with open arms.

Turn your pieces into pocket money

We all own those pieces that don't make us feel like our best selves, but are undeniably filling important gaps in our wardrobes. Think that black tailored trouser that's just an inch on the short side. Or the too-tight white shirt that feels like wearing a corset. Can't afford to pass it on and buy something new? Collect the pieces that you're uncomfortable in and list them on a site like Depop or Vinted. That extra pocket money can go towards versions of these staples that make you feel good.

Assess the gaps and fill them sustainably

So you've decluttered your wardrobe – what next? You might find you're missing important staples, or the process has given you a better sense of what you enjoy wearing. When it comes to buying the next thing, make sure you take a considered approach. Otherwise, you'll find yourself facing another wardrobe clear-out six months down the line.

Our wardrobe staples edit is dedicated to those fail-safe pieces that defy trends and seasonal style stereotypes. Pay attention to colours and fabrics, making sure you're only investing in clothes you'll feel comfortable in. In the words of treen's founder Cat, “My goal? To slide open my wardrobe and smile! Be it from a memory, an outfit idea coming to life, or the story behind how I came to own an item.”

Have we missed an important trick when it comes to closet clear-outs? Let us know your top tips on Instagram or via our online chat box.

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