We all need to be doing more to donate clothes rather than toss them in landfills. Every year we send more than 10 million tons of clothes to trash heaps and landfills, where they do no one any good and decompose in a way that pollutes the environment. On average, we recycle only about 15% of our clothes, and each of us is tossing out about 70 pounds of household textiles each year.
Used clothing donations are a much better way to get rid of unneeded clothes, but the task of sorting through preparing to donate clothes can be so daunting we are reluctant to start. If you want to donate clothes but don’t know where to start going through your closet (or, worse, your kids’ closets!) here are a few tips on how to pare things down before you arrange that Purple Heart donation pick up.
- Don’t try to deal with all the clothes at once. The best idea is to take them type by type. Sweaters, jeans, work clothes, play clothes, tops, bottoms, jackets, socks, summer wear, winter wear: divide the work into at least a few categories. Not only will this reduce the number of decisions you have to keep track of as you go through the clothes, but it’ll allow you to finish categories and feel encouraged and inspired to keep going. If you tackle everything at once, you’re liable to give up entirely when it’s time for bed and you’re only partly finished.
- Make piles, but don’t have more than three or four. One pile is obviously clothes that you’ll be keeping. A second pile should be donations for helping families in need. A third pile could be clothes you want to give to families with younger children, or clothes from an older child that should be kept for younger siblings You might also have an “unsure” pile. If you can’t make a decision quickly about a piece, throw it there and go through that pile separately. Once the piles are clear, sorting clothes into them becomes a lot easier, and you can donate clothes knowing you haven’t missed something.
- Write down a couple questions to ask yourself about difficult articles. When you approach those items you’re just not sure about, have three to five questions ready to ask yourself as you look at it. Write them down so it doesn’t become an extra brain strain to try and remember the questions. Some questions could be:
- Have I worn this in the past season?
- Do I have another one just like this already?
- Does it have holes or rips that I can’t fix or realistically am not going to take the time to get fixed?
- Do I love everything about it: the color, the fabric, and the way it fits me?
- Does it fit me right now, not at some point later when I lose that 10 pounds?
Just remember that the reason you’re doing this is to get rid of clutter and donate clothes to people in need. Don’t make excuses, and remember that if you haven’t gotten that hole fixed in the past year, you probably aren’t going to do so in the coming year. If the item hasn’t inspired you to lose 10 pounds in the past year, it’s unlikely to start doing so now.
We’ve all got clothes we don’t need. We’ve all got clutter in our lives that we’d be better off without. And we all have things we’re not using that someone else could really benefit from. There are lots of charity organizations that will be glad for your clothing donation. Find places to donate clothes near you, and then decrease your stress and increase the space in your closets and dressers by sorting out what you’re not using.