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For many of us, a new year comes with new resolutions.

 

To create a more welcoming space, we often want to declutter and organise – starting with wardrobes and chests of drawers. Is it the fresh start you’re looking for in 2022, but are unsure about how to proceed, and what to do with the clothes you won’t keep? Billi London is here to help.

All things considered: Make time to think

 

We definitely want the end result… but to start the whole process isn’t easy. Decluttering can quickly generate some level of discomfort, and even a feeling of guilt. Facing our newly resurfaced garments, we can no longer deny it: these clothes (and the knowledge that some of them haven’t even been used) are a burden. 

 

This article is not about feeding this sense of guilt, since most will have this experience to start with. Rather, we hope that acknowledging this is a feeling shared by many will help us to give you the tools to finally deal with it once and for all, so you don’t have to relive it next year. Let’s free up some space on our shelves - and in our minds - with some clothes recycling tips!

A wardrobe full of clothes on hangers and in storage boxes

Understanding your own decluttering

 

Having selected the clothes you want to part with, allow yourself some time for reflection. Can you identify one or two main reasons for selecting them? They probably fall into two different categories: 

 

1. Damaged, worn-out items

 

How did they withstand the test of time? Did they get ruined by washes? Were the seams resistant? Did the fabric get damaged, and how quickly did it happen? 

 

2. Good condition and almost brand new items

 

Did they end up on this pile because of outdated fashion trends? Is it because you realised you haven’t worn them in six months/a year/ever?Is it because the material is uncomfortable, rough or unattractive?

 

The label can provide you with helpful information on your garment’s composition. 

A picture of a clothing care label on an item of clothing ready to be decluttered and donated

 

There aren’t ’good’ or ‘bad’ answers here, and again the point is not to blame yourself! Everyone has already regretted buying something. But when decluttering, making space and time to reflect more deeply on the kind of clothes we give away can be crucial in developing a more responsible attitude to shopping, where our desires aren’t dictated by others or advertising. It is therefore a very personal journey.

 

Remembering the reasons why these items no longer belong in your wardrobe means you won’t make the same mistake twice, and will feel a lot more confident about your choices next time you have to shop! 

An image of clothes ready to be donated or recycled next to a bin with a 'no entry/do not bin' sign placed in front of the bin

What next?

 

Now you’ve put together the clothes you won’t be keeping, you’ve got a range of options. We’ll just insist on one rule, though: don’t throw away your clothes in the bin! They can still be useful in so many ways…

 

1. Repairing

 

Some clothes can probably be repaired. Oh the joy of wearing again a dress we had pushed deep inside our closet, promising ourselves we would fix this unfortunate rip, before completely forgetting about it and burying it even further… Yet we still love the dress just as much as when we first got it!

Sewing guides and online tutorials could help you (visit for instance Love Your Clothes), as could attending workshops or drop in sessions (such as the ones organised in Repair Cafes), or asking experts to do it for you (visit Seam for the UK, and Re_fashion for France). 

 

2. Upcycling

 

Your clothes can be turned into something else. A shirt, t-shirt or jumper can be turned into a dress, cushion, pen holder, material for creative activities…

Explore the arts and crafts shelves of your local library, look for online tutorials, and consider attending workshops. In London, for instance, the Billi London team organised eco-friendly upcycling sessions to teach new creative skills in a supportive and friendly atmosphere. Our tights can indeed become great creations: sponges, macramé, reusable makeup remover pads…

 

A pair of sewing scissors, a spool of thread and a few dressmaking pins in the palm of a person's right hand.

3. Giving

 

You can organise swap sessions with friends, give clothes to your neighbours, members of your family, or use them to support a great cause.

If you live in the UK, the Charity Retail Association will help you locate your nearest charity shop. If you live in France, Emmaüs has a list of all its shops throughout the country. 

  

4. Selling

 

You can give your clothes a new life by selling them on many platforms specialising in second hand fashion. Popular ones include Vinted, Depop and Vestiaire Collective. Some brands, such as Balzac, now also help their customers sell their preloved items. 

 

5. Recycling

 

Locate your nearest textile collection point. If you’re based in the UK, find your nearest recycling points by visiting Recycle Now. You can also request a collection on your very doorstep from Recycling Clothes Company.  

If you live in France, check out maps on websites such as Re_fashion or Redonner. If you drop off your textile items at one of their collection points, you’ll get discounts in Redonner’s partner shops. 

 

A client at our Billi London upcycling workshop in Seven Dials holding a gourd covered in our exclusive Coco pattern seamless belt eco black tights.

Et voilà !

 

Your wardrobe is organised, your mind refreshed, and you have perhaps created unique crafts or experienced new ways to share your preloved items. The outcome of your reflection will also quickly prove invaluable, as you have reconsidered the way you shop. As with any decluttering or recycling session, what we wish for is sustainable, lasting impact… And at Billi London, we believe durability should be true both for you and the planet!

 

Do you have a decluttering session planned in the near future? Share your tips and tricks with us! 

 

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A woman sitting on a ledge wearing a blue denim skirt, bejewelled yellow stilettos and a pair of Billi London Classic 30 Denier Black Eco Tights