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Closet Clearouts: Kon-do or Kon-don’t?

Amy Butterworth discusses the tension surrounding the sustainability of closet clear outs


Down the rabbit hole of fashion YouTube, you may find yourself enchanted by hour-long compendiums of people sifting through their overflowing wardrobes, as they painstakingly filter out the items that no longer bring them joy, à la Marie Kondo. That’s right, the newest trend in the fashion world is wardrobe clear-outs.

This could be a discussion on humanity’s deep-set, psychological love for ‘organisation porn’; a vicarious method of de-stressing amidst the chaos in our own cataclysmic, cluttered lives. However, I will be examining it from an environmental standpoint; whether this recent trend encourages sustainable fashion, or exhilarates our consumerist drive to ‘reward’ ourselves after a sustainability driven purge.

‘organisation porn’; a vicarious method of de-stressing

It is no surprise that YouTubers are finally addressing the dark side of Fast Fashion, with the clothing industry being one of the biggest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions, not to mention the 235 million items of clothing that piled up in landfills in the last year. Yet, each year, 150 billion new pieces of clothing are produced (likely to be unethically produced) in order to satisfy the arbitrary trends.

Thus, decluttering our wardrobes should promote minimalism in our lives, to inspire us to value each and every item we own as well as not contributing to the main industry destroying our planet. Nevertheless, what we do with unwanted clothes is important: sending them off to landfills negates all our sustainability driven efforts. Instead, donate them to family and friends, charity shops, or give damaged clothes to textile recycling banks to give it a new life (or even DIY it into a one-of-a-kind piece).

Minimalism in a world dominated by consumerism is difficult to achieve

Minimalism in a world dominated by consumerism is difficult to achieve, but going counter-current to trends, hauls and frivolous spends promotes timeless fashion. After all, “we often only wear 30% of our entire closets. So if you can see everything you have, and everything you have is focused and suited to you, then you cannot go wrong” says Oriona Robb, style consultant and wardrobe organiser. However, even simply culling your wardrobe of that skirt you haven’t worn since year 10 is a step in the right direction: a clean room (or wardrobe) is a clear mind.

On the flip side, there is the potential that this trend of de-cluttering one’s wardrobe will only encourage a cycle of binge and purge mentality. It is so easy to rationalise that, in getting rid of one item, you have justified the purchase of a shiny, new piece, to compliment your freshly curated wardrobe. Consider the dopamine ‘hit’ of the instantaneous purchase of clothes from online retailers alongside the anticipation of receiving the item. Not only would we derive self-satisfaction from de-cluttering our wardrobe, but also by filling it with items which act as a ‘reward’ for our sustainable actions.

Consumerism is ever-present, seeping even into anti-consumerist endeavours

Furthermore, amidst the plethora of YouTube ‘wardrobe clear-out’ videos are enticing, gleaming advertisements showcasing the new, exciting trends. Online magazine ‘Who What Wear’, features an article on how to go about clearing your wardrobe, except each handy tip is interspersed with links to clothes/items to accommodate your de-cluttering endeavour. Consumerism is ever-present, seeping even into anti-consumerist endeavours.

Linda Blair, clinical psychologist speaking for the children’s charity Barnados, says that “people think they need lots of clothing, that they need to be surrounded by choices, however, psychological research shows that having more choices actually leads to indecisiveness and less satisfaction rather than greater contentment”.

Thus, dissatisfied with every indecisive morning delving through my cluttered cupboards, I decided to take the plunge and attempt a wardrobe clear-out. However, my housemate’s immediate reaction that I can “buy some more clothes to fill the spaces” leaves me somewhat sceptical of the de-cluttering movement. However, by continuing to promote Slow Fashion in a world of consumerism, it is a step in the right direction for clearer minds and a greener planet.


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