Do you know how to do a sustainable closet audit? In this blog, we teach you how!
Autumn always feels like a fresh, new beginning. The cool air seems to usher in a wave of change that makes it seem like anything is possible. During this transitional time, so many people (myself included!) look to reorganize their lives—and that usually starts with a reorganization of the physical space around them. If you’re feeling the urge to purge this fall, we’re right there with you.
A cleanout shouldn’t just be about getting rid of everything in your closet, though. The fall sustainable closet audit is gentler and calmer than spring cleaning. Autumn cleaning is a time for remembering the memories your items have given you. It’s a time for reflecting on what you really what your wardrobe to look and feel like. And it’s a time for you to feel grateful for what you have while becoming more aware of your impact on the environment and the world around you.
With that in mind, this article is going to focus less on the actual cleanout process (you can learn about that here). Instead, we’re going to be teaching you how to perform a sustainable closet audit to make your closet and purchasing process better for the environment, better for your health, and better for your wallet.
What’s a sustainable closet audit?
You’re probably used to cleaning out your closet by putting items in piles based on how frequently you wear certain items of clothing. Then, you keep those items that you wear a lot and discard or donate those that you don’t wear often. That’s a streamlined way to do it, and we’ve talked about this kind of cleanout to love your wardrobe and make money before. However, it doesn’t bring you closer to living a more sustainable and eco-friendly lifestyle.
This year, let’s instead focus on the sustainability of your closet. That means taking an in-depth look at everything you own to see which of your favorite pieces will best hold up to Current Boutique’s rigorous tests of sustainability.
A sustainable closet audit is a new kind of closet cleaning process we use that focuses on the sustainability of clothing. Our definition of sustainability is threefold:
- Environmental sustainability: the clothing item should be high-quality enough that it can withstand the test of time (fast-fashion is a no-go)
- Temporal sustainability: the piece should be classic and timeless enough to be able to wear for multiple seasons
- Personal sustainability: you should love the piece so much that it is an important and useful part of your wardrobe
- (Optional) Material sustainability: the item should be made of eco-friendly material
What’s the purpose of a sustainable closet audit?
The purpose of a sustainable closet audit is to:
- Feel good about every single item in your closet
- Know that the clothing you wear is healthy for you and the environment
- Help you become more aware of your clothing consumption and waste
- Learn more about sustainable and eco-friendly materials for future purchases
- Focus on fashion self-care
How to conduct a sustainable closet audit
Find fast-fashion labels.
If a clothing piece is from a fast-fashion store, it’s probably already out of fashion and losing its original luster. I find that any fast-fashion clothing I buy doesn’t even last me a full season of moderate wear. Plus, fast-fashion is horrible for the environment.
Big box fast-fashion companies want you to constantly consume more and more clothing, because that’s how they make money. So, these companies make low-quality pieces with cheap materials and unhealthy chemicals that are bad for the environment and your health. They only care about making products as fast as possible, and that typically means low-quality all around. Check out this list of fast-fashion companies to avoid by Sustainably Chic.
That doesn’t mean you necessarily need to get rid of anything that you own just because it’s from a fast-fashion label. You just want to be aware of the harmful impacts of fast-fashion so you can make conscious choices for your wardrobe moving forward.
Learn how to choose quality clothing.
It’s not just a matter of fast-fashion versus high designer, though. There are a lot of nuances when it comes to fashion sustainability, like material, production, labor rules, and more. A lot of top brand designers are equally as unsustainable as fast-fashion brands! On top of eco-friendly practices, you’ll want to find clothing pieces that are stylish and high-quality enough to be sustainable for years to come.
Our designers at Current Boutique are pros at selecting quality clothing. We only purchase those items that we believe we can resell on our shelves. That means these pieces need to meet certain standards of style, quality, and sustainability.
Want our top tips on picking pieces like a Current Boutique pro? Check out this article: How to select clothing like an expert designer.
Psst… One of the reasons that pre-loved fashion is so hot right now is because it is innately sustainable!
Keep the pieces you can’t live without.
One of our rules for sustainability is personal sustainability. You should love every clothing item in your closet so much that everything feels essential. Anything you put on makes you feel beautiful and poised. What you wear impacts your psychology, so you always want to wear clothing that elevates your confidence. As you’re going through your closet, ask yourself if each piece of clothing makes you happy. If it does, keep it! There’s nothing better than a wardrobe that makes you happy.
It takes some time and practice to really find clothing that suits your unique style, but it’s worth it. Don’t worry too much about trends; instead, focus on clothing that flatters your specific body type, coloring, style, and personality. Take this quiz to find your personal style.
Consider getting rid of clothing that’s hard to care for.
We’re not huge fans of “dry clean only” clothing unless it’s a specialty piece, like a nice dress or designer jacket. But, if it’s a clothing item you wear frequently, constant dry cleaning is a hassle and it’s bad for the environment. Choosing clothing that’s easy to wash with minimal effort, water, and chemicals is good for both environmental and personal sustainability.
Find out here how to care for your clothing so it has a long and ecological lifespan.
Wear and purchase items made with eco-friendly materials.
If you’re looking for environmentally sustainable clothing, you want to learn more about different eco-friendly textiles and fabrics. Synthetic fabrics are horrible for the environment (and for your health) because they are produced with harsh chemicals and synthetics. These chemicals can seriously impact your health, and they also damage oceans and lands. These synthetic materials are also made from plastics that take hundreds (and sometimes thousands) of years to degrade in landfills.
When conducting your sustainable closet audit, look to see if you have clothing made from eco-friendly materials. If you tend towards synthetics, like if you wear a lot of bathing suits, do some research to see if there is a healthier alternative. Moving forward, try to buy clothing that’s made with fabrics that are good for the environment and good for your skin—you’ll feel great about it!
Learn all about eco-friendly fabrics here. Also, since winter is coming up, read about the best eco-friendly clothing materials to keep you warm.
Curate a timeless wardrobe.
One of our rules for sustainability is temporal sustainability. Your clothing should be classic enough to withstand the test of time. Clothes that are too trendy will only last a season or a few months, which means they’ll quickly end up in a landfill (or just take up space in your closet). Keeping and purchasing clothing and accessories that are classic, feminine, and elegant are always going to be in style, and you’ll be able to wear them for years to come.
Even better, find pieces that you truly enjoy wearing. They don’t necessarily have to be “classic” as long as you love them. If you have a more eccentric style, those cheetah print pants might be your go-to for years to come. If you have a sporty style, you might get lots of use out of high-end athleisure.
Think about the clothing items that you have had for the longest and those pieces that you wear the most often. What do those pieces say about your style? How can you incorporate more of these items into your sustainable closet long-term?
Sell, don’t ditch.
After you’ve done your sustainable closet audit, don’t just throw your clothing out! According to an article in HuffPost, the average American throws away about 81 pounds of textiles every year, equating to nearly 36 billion pounds tons of discarded textiles. The worst part is that it’s estimated that 95% of those discarded textiles are reusable, recyclable, or re-sellable. Those textiles end up in landfills releasing massive amounts of carbon dioxide and disrupting natural environmental processes. Learn more about the textile waste problem here.
If you’re looking for a more sustainable life and closet, you don’t want to add to these numbers. Consider selling unwanted items to a consignment store or donating them to charity to give your pieces a second chance, prolonging their use and minimizing textile waste. Current Boutique would love to check out your preloved items to figure out how, together, we can give each piece a renewed life and a second chance at sustainability. Learn more about selling to Current Boutique here.
How sustainable is your closet?