$406 billion dollars.

That’s the fashion industry’s market value.

Zoom out: Statistics show that the world at large consumes 80 billion clothing pieces—each year.

Get personal: The average American throws out 70 lbs. of clothing/textiles per year.

Clothing is, arguably, one of our biggest forms of waste in modern day.

But we can each reduce our textile waste—while saving money, space, and headaches—with these 5 ideas for repurposing and recycling your clothing.

Reduce the “what do I wear?” stress with a capsule wardrobe.

Here’s the quickest way to reduce the stress surrounding the question, “What should I wear today?”

A capsule wardrobe.

My personal definition of an “capsule wardrobe” is a small compact wardrobe that you can mix and match easily and will transition between styles for almost any occasion.

There are numerous schools of thought on this type of wardrobe, and not all of them may fit your particular style, so I suggest paring down a little at a time… to see what works for you.

No need to go cold turkey and try to live off 3 pieces of clothing. It’s all about finding what works for your lifestyle, and then making it EASY to figure out what to wear every day!

With my wardrobe, I try to follow this simple rule of thumb:

If something NEW comes in the closet, something OLD comes out of the closet!

This challenges me to keep my closet from overflowing with clothing I’ll never actually wear.

Although I still have some professional clothing pieces from my sales career days, my goal is to eventually have a completely capsule wardrobe. I’m working toward having 10-12 pieces of key clothing that I can mix and match with accessories to highlight the outfits.

Here is a list of my key clothing pieces for casual, business, and church excursions:

  • Khaki pants
  • Jeans
  • Black pants
  • Black pencil skirt
  • Structured jean jacket
  • Fitted short black/grey jacket
  • 3 Short or sleeveless shells (complimentary colors)
  • 2 Long sleeve or 3/4 length sleeve shells (complimentary colors)
  • Light poncho/sweater wrap

Of course, since I live on a farm, I do have to have several clothing items that I don’t mind getting dirty and stained. While I don’t need dozens of t-shirts, I do need a fair few that I can rotate through the week between laundry loads. These also wear out quickly, so they are not as long-lasting.

If you work on a farm like me, I suggest getting your “farm” clothes, like t-shirts, from a place like Goodwill. No need to buy something new that’s just going to get a big grass stain on it the moment you get to work.

You can read more about my wardrobe capsule journey here.

Really up for the capsule wardrobe challenge? This blog post shows you how to reduce your wardrobe to an easily-manageable 37 pieces.

Donate your nearly-new clothing.

Have gently-used clothing pieces that no longer fit your current lifestyle?

Donate these to people who can give these pieces new life!

If you have professional wardrobe pieces that you no longer need, donate these to organizations that empower job seekers who have fallen on hard times, like Dress for Success in Nashville.

Hands On Nashville provides a comprehensive list of items their non-profit partners are looking for in Middle Tennessee, including gently-used clothing.

Earn a little cash with consignment.

Have trendy clothing items that are still in good condition? Consign these to earn a little bit of cash!

Poshmark and Plato’s Closet are two popular consignment options.

Poshmark enables you to sell your gently-used, fashionable pieces directly from your phone! Create an account, snap a pic of your clothing, upload it, and then ship it to the buyer with an easy-to-use prepaid shipping label.

Plato’s Closet accepts brand name, gently-used wardrobe pieces. If accepted, your paid a small amount for the piece. This is a good option for those in their twenties or thirties, or if you have a teen daughter who is cleaning out her closet. There are several locations around the U.S., including Nashville.

Upcycle for a new look.

Have clothes that no longer serve a purpose for you, but you just can’t let them go? A great way to find new purpose for those items just taking up space in your closet is to upcycle them.

With some basic sewing techniques on hand, you can transform your old pieces into new styles.

This blog post has 100 ideas for upcycling your clothing. If a hundred ideas aren’t enough for you, here are 40 more ideas for repurposing old clothing.

Go for gently-used pieces.

There are so many quality clothing items available for a fraction of the cost. Don’t spend a fortune on a brand new outfit when you can find quality items available that look just as great as those you’ll find at the department stores.

Use thredUP, Poshmark, or tradesy to buy gently used designer and non-designer brands. You’ll be happy with your new-to-you items, and your wallet will be happy you didn’t spend a load of money on a piece of clothing.