7 Ways to Organize Your Closet, the Eco Way

Originally published on Sprig.com

You just spent the weekend cleaning out your closet and have a pile of stuff that either doesn’t fit your body or doesn’t suit your lifestyle. What do you do with the leftovers? These seven ideas will help you save money, save the planet and just feel good about yourself.

1. Repair It.
Paying to have an ill-fitting pair of pants tailored to your size is less expensive than buying a new pair—ditto for stretching a pair of shoes or giving them new soles. Simple fit issues can be fixed by your local tailor or shoemaker. (Don’t know where to go? Ask for a recommendation from your favorite local boutique.) A good tailor can also adjust the style of a piece, updating flare legs to straight or minimizing puffy sleeves on a blouse.

2. Rework It.
If it pains you to part with that XL R.E.M. tee from college, channel your inner crafter. Thread Banger and T-Shirt Surgery are among the resourceful websites that offer do-it-yourself instructions for restyling pieces like jeans and T-shirts that are easy enough for sewing novices (really—some don’t even require a needle and thread).

3. Swap It.
Before you go on a shopping spree to fill in the holes in your newly-clean closet, consider swapping. “Circulating items is definitely a green idea,” says Melanie Charlton Fascitelli of Clos-ette, a New York-based closet organizing company. Host a clothing swap party at home with friends (and friends of friends). Ask each person to bring all of the clothing and accessories she no longer wants. Then either make a big pile in the middle of the room and have a free-for-all or separate clothing into categories for easier “shopping.” You can also swap online from sites such as Clothing SwapSwap Style, and Swap Thing, which allow you to trade clothing with other registrants.

4. Sell It.
Yep, you can make money selling your castoffs! Start by checking with consignment shops in your area. Ask to speak with a manager or buyer about what they’re most interested in acquiring. (Keep in mind that many consignment shops shop sell seasonal clothing, so you won’t have much luck getting rid of a puffy jacket in June.) They do the selling for you and either offer instant store credit or a percentage–usually about half–of the resale price on items that move.

For a more hands-on approach, you can sell on eBay, either with bidding or a simple “buy it now” price. Never done it? It’s really a simple process; just upload a digital photo and description and pay no more than a few bucks per item. Save trips to the post office and lower your carbon footprint by ending each of your auctions on the same day. Items of lesser value are best sold locally on Craig’s List, where you can set up a window of time for potential buyers to shop for and haul away your goods. During fair weather months, you can plan a yard/gate/garage sale or, better yet, arrange a group one with neighbors.

5. Donate it.
The possibilities for donations are endless. Start with your local thrift store, homeless shelter or women’s shelter, which accept tax-deductible donations and serve your community. And check out these sites for donating particular items.

Dress for Success: Accepts business-appropriate clothing for female job-hunters. You can also find a local group that does the same (check their directory for more info) here.

Glass Slipper Project: This Chicago-based group re-circulates dresses for girls in need of prom gowns.

Brides Against Breast Cancer: This non-profit collects contemporary wedding gowns to benefit those suffering from metastatic breast cancer.

I Do Foundation: Resells your donated wedding gown then makes a contribution to the charity of your choice with partial proceeds from the sale.

Pick Up Please: Supports Vietnam Veterans with the sale of donated items, including clothing and accessories.

Soles4Souls: Collects shoes for victims of natural disasters, including Hurricane Katrina the Thailand Tsunami.

Nike’s Reuse-A-Shoe: Recycles materials from worn and donated sneakers for new shoes or for materials used to build playgrounds and sports courts.

6. Give it A New Purpose.
Nothing needs to end up in a landfill. If it’s not worth selling, swapping or donating, you can find new uses for items that would otherwise end up in the trash. Torn cotton shirts become dusting and cleaning rags. Other garments can be used to stuff in handbags or shoes to retain their shape when not in use. The legs of jeans or sweats can be cut and used as covers for packing shoes.

7. Don’t Give Up!
Even old hangers can use a new home! Return excess wire hangers to your local dry cleaner for re-use and donate plastic hangers to your local thrift store. Down to the bottom of the pile? The last of your unwanted items can be distributed free through Freecycle.

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