The Official Activist Guide to a Closet Clean-Out
February 28, 2023

By Elizabeth Akomolafe, 2023 Future Blue Youth Council member

Featured Image: “Otter Fashion Weekly: Dirty is the New Clean” by Aniya Keeble (California, USA)

It’s 2023 and officially the Year of the Rabbit, so we are doing away with old habits and old clothes, and making room for sustainable, slow fashion by avoiding fast fashion.

‘aDRESSing unknown issues’ by Grace Alter (South Africa)

The Internet has been up in arms about fast fashion for the last few years, but what exactly is it? Fast fashion can be defined as cheap, trendy clothing, produced at breakneck speeds to meet consumer demand. This rapid production harms the planet and our water supply, and poses serious risks to animals.

Here are some quick, not-so-fun facts about fast fashion: The fashion industry is one of the largest polluters of clean water globally, right next to agriculture. Companies cut costs by using cheap, toxic dyes that contaminate the water supply and are dangerous when consumed. In addition to those dyes, microfibers (a type of microplastic) released in waterways when we wash our clothes are killing off both land and marine animals alike, and inducing a variety of health issues. Inhaling microfibers can lead to respiratory problems, like asthma and bronchitis, and autoimmune diseases. These plastics also absorb chemicals that can affect our livers and prostate glands and possibly cause high blood pressure.

On the bright side, there’s been a growing interest in moving towards a more sustainable fashion model—and you can help, starting with a closet purge!



How to Properly Closet Purge:

1. Gather Your Supplies
A closet purge requires you to be battle-ready. Grab a snack, some trash bags, and your favorite productivity playlist!

2. Plan Out Your Strategy
Every good battle requires a plan of attack. In the words of Dwight E. Eisenhower, “I have always found that in battle, plans are useless but planning is indispensable.” So where do you want to start? In the closet or the drawer? Do you need to do some laundry first? Do you want to make “keep,” “donate,” and “maybe” piles? The choice is yours, but answering those questions is a good place to start.

3. Just Do It
You’ve planned and prepped, you’re ready to go, so now it’s time to get into it. Go through all the clothes you may not even remember buying and pack them up, or bring back a favorite you haven’t seen in a bit.

4. Donate
You’ve done it! You’ve successfully made your way through all your clothes. Your donations are ready to go—what now? Textile waste all too often ends up in landfills, but thankfully there are multiple ways to give your old clothes new life:

  • First, there’s your trusty donation stops—Goodwill, Salvation Army, or any thrift/second-hand store in your area.
  • If you’d rather donate your clothes online, ThredUp, Full Circle, For Days, and more have your back.
  • Next is upcycling. Maybe you’re a sewist, or an aspiring one, and it’s finally time to take your talents and apply them to creating new clothes out of your old ones. If you’re like me and feel more comfortable leaving the amazing upcycled creations to the pros, there are options for us, too! Companies like Parade, Knicky, and Eileen Fisher Renew will take your clothes (and in most cases, underwear and socks, too) and turn them into something new and beautiful.

Hopefully, this has provided you with at least one step you can take towards your most sustainable future. Additionally, buying less, re-wearing your clothes, and shopping sustainably when possible are some simple steps in your journey to being an official activist style icon!

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The Official Activist Guide to a Closet Clean-Out

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