Saturday, July 18, 2009

Greening My Closet

Recently, I received my weekly Gorgeously Green newsletter to find an article on how being green demands a certain level of forethought and organization. This resonated with me, as I've noticed that eating fewer processed foods, saving energy, and consuming less all involve planning. For example, those savvy Light Green readers who have followed me from the beginning (you know who you are!), may have noticed that July should have been another No-Buy Month for me. Unfortunately, my lack of planning has tripped me up.

At the beginning of this year, I resolved that every third month, I would not buy any non-consumables for thirty days. January and April were successful, and some friends even joined me in April. However, because I didn't even realize that July was here until the third (which, I think, speaks volumes about the degree to which I am wrapped up in So You Think You Can Dance, to the exclusion of, you know, actual reality) I was not able to prepare for No-Buy Month. I realized that I needed some additions to my professional wardrobe for an upcoming conference. What's a girl to do?

I decided that although I was going to have to make a couple of purchases, I should not go about it willy-nilly, but attempt to be a better planner and truly evaluate what I actually needed and what I did not. To do that, I had to get a sense of what I owned that was appropriate for five days of professional dress. That would involve ... CLEANING MY CLOSET (cue opening strains of Thriller).

This has become the Holy Grail of Household Chores around here, because my clever cat, Wily, has discovered that it is fun to pull things off the shelves in the closet. I shove the clothes back onto the shelves without folding them, resolving to clean it up on the weekend. This has been going on since January. You can probably visualize the mess that's been created, but if not, here's a look-see:

Wily surveys the destruction he hath wrought.

Throughout the process of cleaning my closet, I came up with a few organizational tips that you might be able to use if you want to green your closet, garage, etc., all going back to the three R's (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle).

1) Reduce. Or ... Lay your embarrassing level of consumption out on the table (or bedroom floor as the case may be):

In contrast to many Americans, I think I have a low-level of consumption. My apartment and car are both small, and what I can buy is limited by the amount of room I have (or don't) to stash stuff. Nevertheless, I find that twice a year I'm a little sickened by how much I've accumulated. The key is to really get a good look at the stuff, and evaluate what can go on to another, happier life. I happened to throw my stuff all over the bedroom, then asked myself the following questions:

2) Reuse: Can your stuff help someone else?
When I evaluated my things, I found there were lots of things I didn't need, but that others could use. That big pile in the middle of the floor? That all went to Goodwill. I choose to give to Goodwill, because I like the focus of their work, but there are many charities that also need your donations. You can find one that suits your sensibilities.

3) Repurpose and Reuse: Can you use your stuff in a new way?

These T-shirts were too grungy to go to Goodwill, so I was going to throw them away. But then I realized that they could make lovely cleaning rags, thus reducing my dependence on paper towels.

4) Re (or Up)-Cycle: Can your stuff be transformed?

Due to my long-running fascination with boho chic, which has once again become de mode, I had a lot of clothes made out of cool vintagey fabrics, with beautiful screen prints, or that were too sentimental to give up. I did not want them cluttering my closet however. These, I boxed up for upcycling. They can become the linings of knitted handbags, embellishments on clothes, or the raw material for handmade greeting cards.

Here's the finished closet:

I was happy to discover that, after all of that, I needed to buy only a cardigan and a blouse to create the five days of professional outfits that I needed. And I'm much happier every time I look in the closet.

Just a note: This week we passed 1000 hits! Huzzah! Thanks for reading, and keep coming back for more.

Coming up: As promised before I sprained my hand, recipes for homemade hummus, and an Auntie Chronicles. Also, a few thoughts on greenwashing.

1 comment:

Darci said...

Love your latest post- and I'm glad you're back to blogging!