The calendar turns to another month and we are moving into fall. While this is a great time of the year to get outdoors and enjoy our environment — consider spending a bit of time indoors to clean out your clothing closet and prepare for the seasons ahead. As leaves will be falling off of the trees, before we know it, sweater weather will be here. Get your clothes ready and do so in a green way.
Closet clean out — save green
From clothing swaps, to hand me downs, to mixing and matching and adding fun accessories — clothes you already own can get a new look and extended life. Planning is key to saving green — the environment and money that is. Here are some tips to keep in mind:
- Inventory what clothes fit and what items you have before making new purchases.
- Do not put clothes into your personal recycling bins. They can become tangled in equipment at waste processing facilities and be a danger for workers. Read about textiles and how to Recycle Right NY.
- Make new items from items you no longer find useful. Turn old jeans into new shorts or even a new bag! T-shirts can become no-sew reusable bags in a few simple steps. Check the internet for “no-sew” techniques so you can give your clothes new life.
- Give your old clothes an update. Add an iron-on or fabric paint to give life to a plain t-shirt. Use buttons and iron-on or sewed patches to make an item different and “new.”
Organize a clothing swap with family, friends, or neighbors. Pass down clothes that are still useful and in good shape. Swap backpacks and school supplies for even more savings.
- Shop online thrift stores. This is a convenient way to buy secondhand items from a variety of brands.
- Wash clothes in cold water and avoid drying with high heat to keep colors vibrant and to extend the fabric life. Reduce your energy use by line drying some items outside, when the weather permits, or indoors on a clothes rack.
- Avoid dry clean only clothes as they are often harder to care for. Dry-cleaning uses chemicals that are not as friendly to our environment as regular machine washing and drying at home.
- Try natural laundry stain removing solutions — 1/4 cup of baking soda, 1/4 cup of white vinegar, a drop of Castile soap, and 2 cups of cold water (hot water sets stains). Mix. Spray on a stain, rub it in, let it sit, and then scrub it off. Toss it into the washer if needed.
- Dye it! Have something white that’s stained? Try a fun craft project like making your own natural dyes (examples: onion skins, turmeric powder, or berries) and tie-dying stained items.
Did you know that?
- Recycling textiles reduces greenhouse gases (GHGs). GHGs from textile production totals 1.2 metric tonnes of CO2 — more than emissions from international flights and maritime shipping combined.
- Textile recycling = job creation. The potential market value of all these discarded materials is almost $130 million. Over 1,000 jobs would be created in New York State if these materials were reused and recycled instead of being thrown away.
- Cotton is the most pesticide-dependent crop in the world. By recycling textiles, you are helping to reduce toxins from pesticides, herbicides, dyes, and other harsh chemicals used in production.
Too many clothes and other textiles end up in landfills and incinerators. Don’t just change clothes — change habits. DEC provides additional information on textile reuse and recycling.