Tidying Up with Your Conscience: Clothing

The 4 R’s of sustainable living: Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle


I have to get this out of my system before I get too far into this: only buy what you need and what will outlast fads, borrow from friends or family, buy secondhand when possible, and if you absolutely must- buy ethical and impeccably well made (to last!).

In the DC area? Check out some of my favorite consignment shops here!


This is the part that Marie Kondo has helped you with and the inspiration for this series of blog posts!


If you are not a DIY-er please just skip ahead to “RECYCLE”- I don’t want to lose you with terms like “hand sew” or “hot glue”. If you’re up for the challenge…. proceed with caution. This section is reserved for items of clothing that may not be suitable for donation but still have value, either practical or sentimental. Time to get creative….


After all that hard work downsizing, you now have a pile of perfectly good clothes that no longer bring you joy, congratulations. If you’re reading this, then you’ve already decided that you want to responsibly dispose of or donate the items you no longer want. What I hope you’ll get out of this, is the framework to accurately and efficiently decipher which second-hand stores or re-sellers are prioritizing responsible resource re-allocation. Some general ideas to look into in your area are non-profits, community resource groups, and consignment stores.

The Non-profit Leaders

For some of us, donation centers are the easiest and most responsible place to re-home discarded clothing items. Let’s start with the big wigs…

Take for example Goodwill, which has a CharityWatch Rating of A. I have identified 3 important aspects of responsible and worthwhile giving: Community Impact, Sustainability, & Economic Impact

Community Impact

  • job training and support services to help people overcome challenges to build skills, find jobs, and grow their careers
  • GoodProspects is an online program of Goodwill where people seeking jobs or exploring careers can get advice from people that have worked in the field in which they are interested
  • Goodwill has hired nearly 1,800 veterans and military family members and has served nearly 100,000 more with job training and placement services and announced in 2013 that they are in the process of engaging 3,000 women veterans


  • in 2010, Goodwill launched the Donate Movement to demonstrate the value that donated goods have for people and the planet
  • Goodwill’s vision for the Donate icon is a universal reminder to ‘recycle’ through responsible donation, helping provide opportunities for others while diverting usable items from landfills

Economic Impact

  • in 2015, the group served more than 37 million people, with more than 312,000 people placed into employment
  • more than 87 percent of the collective revenue from the sale of donated goods at Goodwill organizations supports and grows their critical community-based programs and services

Community Resource Groups

Family & Friends

  • Hand-me-ups!
    • before you give your clothes to strangers, considering passing them on to a family member or a friend. This way you can ensure that your items will be loved and could even hold some sentimental value for the person you’re passing it on to
  • Get Social! Clothing Swaps as ladies night or wine night!
    • why wait for a holiday to do a white elephant gift exchange? As the seasons change, you can invite your friends to bring their “donation clothes” for a clothing swap!

Free Community Exchange

  • Buy Nothing Project
    • Buy Nothing is a movement that offers people a way to give and receive, share, lend, and express gratitude through a worldwide network of hyper-local gift economies in which the true wealth is the web of connections formed between people who are real-life neighbors
    • I cannot sing BN’s praises loudly enough. This online gifting community has brought me friends in my neighborhood, help when I need it, and an opportunity to give back to the people who make my community such a unique place to live
  • FreeCycle
    • The Freecycle Network™ is made up of 5,315 groups with 9,264,726 members around the world, and next door to you. It’s a grassroots and entirely nonprofit movement of people who are giving (and getting) stuff for free in their own towns and neighborhoods
  • Nextdoor
    • Nextdoor is more than just a marketplace for you to exchange items with your neighbors, it’s also a platform to exchange information within your community. This is a great place to go if you have questions about local donation options or second-hand stores in the area

Make $$$ Thrift & Consignment

  • ThredUp
    • ThredUp is a fashion resale website for consumers to buy and sell secondhand clothing online. ThredUP is part of a larger Collaborative Consumption movement, which encourages consumers to live in a more collective, sharing economy
  • Etsy
    • Etsy is an e-commerce website focused on handmade or vintage items and craft supplies. These items fall under a wide range of categories, including jewelry, bags, clothing, home décor and furniture, toys, art, as well as craft supplies and tools
    • Etsy is a better option for those of you who may be interested in upcycling your old items and starting a small side-hustle. If that sounds like you, check out this *guide to starting your own store*
    • Sustainability: Etsy is a leader when it comes to stewardship for the environment. Check out their progressive initiatives here
  • Miscellaneous- feel free to explore these other options:
    • FB Marketplace
    • Ebay & Craigslist
    • Let Go
    • PoshMark

One Comment on “Tidying Up with Your Conscience: Clothing

  1. Pingback: Tidying Up with Your Conscience – Altered Eco

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