… WITHOUT SENDING THEM TO LANDFILL
Though I didn’t put up any review posts, it’s safe to say that 2017 was a busy one. Besides the PhD deadlines, papers and travelling, towards the end of the year me and my boyfriend moved into our first flat together, and started the unenviable task of amalgamating all of our stuff and deciding just how many balloon whisks it’s reasonable for a young couple to have (at the moment we’ve decided that the answer is three. How the hell did we end up with so many balloon whisks?).
Moving house is one of those things that sharply reminds you of just how many things you’ve managed to accumulate- and, as well as vowing to really think about whether we ever need more stuff, I also delved into my wardrobe and weeded out everything that was either old, unflattering, or unloved. I was quite happy with my ruthlessness, and ended up with a number of piles- the question was, what was the best thing to do with them? The charity shop was the obvious choice; but what about all the clothes and shoes that were broken or too worn out to donate? I could always throw them in the bin, but, as my awareness of the environmental impacts of consumption grows, the prospect of sending things to landfill when they still have the potential for a second life as something else seemed more and more wasteful.
So I had a look for ways in which to avoid it, and came up with these. Here’s five ways to get rid of old clothes, without sending them to landfill:
Pinterest is absolutely full of ways in which you can breathe new life into old clothes by altering them. Even if you’re not a sewing whizz or don’t own a sewing machine, there’s loads of ideas for little alterations that can be hand-stitched using old pieces and material scraps. Got a dress with a gorgeous pattern but an unfixable hole? Use it to make a pocket to spruce up an old t-shirt, like this one. You can turn old dresses into awesome skirts – props to my mum for the beaut in the above picture, which she made from pieces which never quite had the right fit. Old jumpers and tweed jackets make very cosy cushion covers and the conversion (there’s a good how to here) is easy-peasy. Basically, just think of the wonderful things they do with old clothes on the sewing bee (why did you cancel it, BBC, why?) and remember that anything you make will be totally unique.
Because it’s so cheap, it’s easy to think that it’ll be much less of a faff to replace items of clothing rather than fix them. But fixing things is often very easy and far cheaper than you might imagine. This Christmas, I was afraid my beloved walking boots would have to go in the bin as the soles were detaching from the rest of the shoe. After six years of service I thought they’d had a pretty good innings, but brought them to a repair shop just in case. For €6 they not only replaced the glue, but stitched the base of the shoe to the soles so I wouldn’t get the same problem again. It costs nothing to double check if boots can be resoled, or sandal straps fixed, or new zips put in, for an amount you’re happy with.
3. TURN THEM INTO DUSTCLOTHS
If the material really is beyond salvaging, you can cut up old t-shirts into squares to make dust/dish cloths, which I’ve found to be just as good as any j-cloth you buy in the shops. I tend to use them for the really grotty jobs where I know the cloth won’t be able to be used again. A nice little money saver.
4. RECYCLE THEM
Textile recycling is still in its infancy, and there’s quite a few technical barriers to make sure that all garments are able to be broken down and rewoven into something useable. That doesn’t mean it isn’t worth having a look at whether your local council will take textiles (you can check here). Quite a lot of H&M stores also have in-store recycling points that will take clothes in any condition- if they can no longer be worn, they can be broken down into textile fibres and used to make new clothes or in things like insulation. I have a beautiful blanket made from 100% recycled wool that I picked up at a vintage fair in Stockport – it’s important to realise that the materials clothes are made out of are valuable in and of themselves.
5. TURN THEM INTO A WHALE
Possibly the ultimate thing to do with old bits of clothing- Wellington was made by my extremely talented sister in law from a mixture of old jeans and pyjamas. He now lives in my flat and reminds me daily of the humpbacks I saw breaching near the Isla de la Plata. He is one of the best things anyones ever made for me, and I think a whole pod of Wellingtons would make wonderful presents next Christmas (spoiler alert: if you are a recipient of presents from me this is almost certainly what you’re getting). The pin she used for the pattern can be found here.