The Mindful Materialist
My Decluttering Tips
Hello fellow mindful materialists! It’s been a while between posts so let me catch you up on what I’ve been up to since my last post. I’ve moved house, done a bunch of uni assignments and had a piece published in Peppermint magazine! I also went to Donna Cameron’s book launch and met both her and Nina Gbor—I might have fangirled a little bit too. Over on Instagram I’ve connected with Clare Press from Wardrobe Crisis, been shared on Marieke Eyskoot’s insta story and cracked the 200-follower milestone. I also finished a fashion journalism course at the London College of Fashion. So yeah, it’s been a busy time to say the least.
Meeting my idols Donna Cameron (L) and Nina Gbor (R) at Donna's book launch.
As for my wardrobe, I’ve got a smaller space to work with in my new home, so I’ve had to do some decluttering. I thought I’d share my decluttering process with you all. If you’re anything like me, then you’ve probably seen quite a few sorting and decluttering videos. Personally, I’ve seen Marie Kondo, The Home Edit and Minimalism on Netflix, and I’ve watched videos on YouTube by Signe Hanson from UseLess and Madeleine Olivia. I’ve also read Madeleine’s book on decluttering called Minimal. So I’ve seen a lot of decluttering tips in my time that have helped me sort out what works for me.
Like all advice on the internet — take it or leave it my friends. This is my method and what works for me, you might be completely different and that’s great. So let’s get into it. These are my delcuttering tips.
Before you start: Put on an epic playlist and comfy clothes. This pre-step is very important!
Step One: Take stock
There’s no point mindlessly decluttering things if you don’t know what you have. Last year I made a spreadsheet detailing the number of items in my wardrobe as well as the colours and types of garments (pants, tops, dresses etc.). It might sound tedious, but now when I’m getting rid of things, I know what goes with other pieces in my wardrobe and what doesn’t. I can see in concrete numbers that I wear a lot of green, blue, black and white, and I also found out that I had a ridiculous number of dresses. After being someone who always used to say, “I don’t have any dresses”, I definitely overcompensated. So when decluttering, I knew I could afford to lose a few of those.
Note: I don’t do this step every time, just every now and then to update the spreadsheet.
Photo credit: Sarah Brown via Unsplash
Step Two: Make a ‘definitely keep’ pile
If you love something and get a lot of wear out of it, then of course you should keep it. My keep pile is usually made up of jeans, t-shirts, jackets and jumpers. These are the staple items I live in every day, so I know I’m going to get more wear out of them and continue to love them. I also keep sentimental clothes. This isn’t a very minimalist thing to do, but I don’t think there’s anything wrong with a bit of sentimentality, in fact we need more of it in this world. For example, I still have my graduation dress which I wore at the end of primary school, then again at the end of high school. Who knows, I might wear it again when I graduate from my postgrad degree at the end of the year.
Step Three: Avoid regrets with a ‘maybe’ pile
I’ve definitely had decluttering sessions where I’ve been too harsh and then later had regrets. But I’ve learnt that there’s no need to be too ruthless. In terms of sustainability, it’s far better to keep and wear what you have than it is to buy new things.
There are some people who think maybe piles are a waste of time — because if clothes are in the ‘maybe’ pile rather than the ‘keep’ pile, then they’re halfway out the door already, right? — I disagree. I had a top in my maybe pile once that I decided to alter and now it’s always in the ‘keep’ pile. I’ve also had things that I love that may not fit perfectly at the time of decluttering, but weight fluctuates — I’m looking at you COVID kilos.
Some of the keepers from my wardrobe
Step Four: Gift, Donate, Recycle
Now you know what you’re keeping and getting rid of, it’s important to remember that when you’re throwing things away, there’s actually no such thing as ‘away’. Especially your synthetic textiles which are made from plastic — every piece of plastic ever made still exist somewhere!
Gift: Got a friend who’s a similar size? Getting rid of things that are still in a good condition? Ask your friend if they’d like your pre-loved things. It’s always nice to see your clothes being loved again and having their lives extended.
Donate: If you’re going to donate to an op shop or charity, make sure you only donate things in a sellable condition. If you wouldn’t give it to a friend, then don’t give it to a charity shop. It sounds obvious, but wash the clothes before you donate them, mend any holes or loose threads, and tie shoe pairs together so they don’t get separated.
Recycle: If you’ve got items that are beyond gifting or donating, recycle them and keep them out of landfill. Companies like Upparel will pick up your items from your front door and recycle them for you! Check out their website for all the items they can take.
Step Five: Wear your clothes and look after them!
Did you know that wearing your clothes for an extra nine months can reduce their water and carbon footprint by 20-30%? So let’s be outfit repeaters people!
Thanks for reading and I hope these decluttering tips can help you get started on your own wardrobe!