A few months ago I was invited on the radio show Environmental Directions to discuss how one could be glamorous and conservation minded at the same time. In preparation for it, I learned a few things. Though I knew that a tremendous amount of shoes, clothes and accessories end up in landfills–I had no idea the amount was as grand as it is: Did you know that clothes and shoes take up more space than any other non-durable goods in the solid waste stream?
Having a zero-waste wardrobe means that you have less fog clogging up your daily dressing decisions, you don’t waste money on stuff you don’t use and you have a small, targeted wardrobe that reflects you as you wish to be. And bonus: you can reduce the amount of stuff that ends up heaping your local landfill. (If you want to see a truly unglamorous site, take a visit to a local waste facility.)
To that end, here are some ideas on how to smartly dispose of items you no longer desire, want, need or use:
- Donate still-nice clothing to a favorite local charity
- If an item is too far gone for reuse and made of an absorbent material, such as cotton, cut it up and use it for household cleaning. By the way, few clothes donated to charities find their way to a second-hand rack near you. The bulk are sold to companies who then sell them overseas or turn them into wiping and polishing cloths.
- Shoes are particularly tough to break down naturally due to the glue that is used to hold them together at points. You can donate still-wearable shoes to Soles 4 Souls, which collects and distributes them internationally. Sneakers you no longer use can be donated to Reuse-A-Shoe, a program by Nike that grinds down shoes and uses them to produce athletic surfaces.
- Hold an informal swap with friends who are like-minded when it comes to garment quality levels and size. Bring only your finest.
- Band together with some buddies and have a yard sale. Use the proceeds to further your glamour arsenal or a favorite cause.
- Finally, get ultra-disciplined and streamlined when it comes to adding new items to your wardrobe. Read Chapter 5 of Practical Glamour, which zeros in on your personal style brand and Chapter 6, which is a step-by-step roadmap to a ruthless closet overhaul.
Environmental Directions is hosted by the very glamorous and multi-talented Nancy Pearlman, who also produces the EMMY-nominated environmental television series EcoNews. Ms. Pearlman told me that when she spoke at the first Earth Day back in the 1970’s, “recycling” was a brand new word.