Here it is, the beginning of March, the second week, actually, and that means that everywhere in the Northern Hemisphere, people are gearing up for their Spring cleaning! That means cleaning out our closets and getting rid of old clothes and textiles, and the other stuff laying around the house, like electronics, to prepare for the warmer weather.
This is the link from the Council on the Environment of New York City, for recycling events throughout the five boroughs of NYC:
And here's a website, Earth 911, that gives information on how to Reduce, Reuse and Recycle in the United States:
They have information on Earth Day Events - remember Earth Day is April 22. Check your local newspaper and community bulletin boards for Earth Day and recycling events in your area.
In case you have decided to donate your old clothes or other items that are still in good condition, here are some tips from the Better Business Bureau on making donations to charitable organizations:
In the United States, the Vietnam Veterans of America, the Salvation Army and Goodwill are some reputable charitable organizations that accept donations of clothing and household items. The proceeds from the sale of these items are used to fund programs that help people who have been hit by hard times to get back on their feet again, through employment, education, and job training. They also provide housing, a key component in helping people gain independence and self-sufficiency.
In Spring, We Turn To Thoughts of ... Cleaning Closets?
The Budget Fashionista has an excellent article on Spring cleaning closets, with links to further information. My only complaint is that two of the links don't work, but I'll try to find substitutes.
Here's an About.com article about the Shelf Life of Makeup, with links to more articles about best makeup brushes, mascaras, etc., and how to clean and maintain your makeup tools:
Beauty and Serendipity's Insanely Detailed Closet Cleaning Method
My favorite method for cleaning out my wardrobe (my word for my closet and armoire combined) is to use a modified version of the Three Pile method, which I believe Peter Walsh used on his "Clean Sweep" program, and which he discusses in his books, "It's All Too Much!" and the "It's All Too Much Workbook."
You take everything out of your clothing storage areas, and sort into four piles: Repair, Toss/Recycle, Donate, and Keep. You can use boxes, too, if it makes it easier to transport items.
Check every item for stains, holes, burns, funky odors, poor fit, rips, tears, scuffs, frayed hems or seams - any kind of damage. Try on items you're not sure about or haven't worn in a long time. If the garment or accessory fits well and looks good on you, but needs a minor repair to be in top condition, consider the cost of making the repair vs. getting a new item just like it. If the cost of the repair is minor, put it in the Repair pile. Put the items that need to be repaired or dry cleaned into a bag or box to take to the dry cleaner/tailor next time you go out. Put the bag or box somewhere you'll be likely to remember it, next to the entrance, for example. Make sure your selections are realistic - that they really do fit you well and look good, that the repairs really are minor, that they won't put a crimp in your clothing care budget and that you'll be happy with the results.
As for the items that didn't make the cut, you can either throw them in the trash, OR, if your community has a textile recycling program, you can take them to the next textile recycling event. Check your community recycling resources to find out where and when the next textile recycling event will take place in your area. If you're going to do this, put the items in a box and put it in your trunk, or if you don't have a car, put the box near the door, so you'll remember to get it out of the house when the time comes for the recycling event. I usually set aside a day to go to the local household recycling event, and take a cab to the event. Which, I must admit, is a big pain in the behind. Be prepared to be very patient, because the lines at these events can be very long, and people can get cranky.
The items that don't fit you or look well on you, but which still have wear in them, and are not damaged, are probably suitable for donation. Check with the charitable organization to whom you've chosen to donate your items to find out their requirements for donations.
Peter Walsh says in "It's All Too Much!" that charities throw away a considerable amount of the items they receive for donation, simply because they are not usable, and this actually costs the charitable organizations money. So be a true friend to your neighbors in need, and donate only those items that are still suitable for use. That means no stains, rips, tears, holes, excessive wear or damage. That t-shirt or blouse with the pit stains goes into the trash or the recycling - no one else wants it!
You should now have a pile of clothing and accessories that you want to keep. These items should make you feel good and look good. Sort through these items. If they need dry cleaning, put them in the box to go to the dry cleaner/tailor. If they need to be laundered, put them in the hamper for the next time you do the laundry. Sort the remaining items by type, and then by color. For instance, t-shirts, long sleeve knit shirts, knit pants, long sleeve woven shirts, short sleeve woven shirts, jeans, dress pants, chinos, dress jackets, casual jackets - all should be separated by type. I find it helpful to arrange everything by type, and then by color, because it makes it easier to coordinate outfits that way.
A Place for Everything, and Everything In Its Place
Before putting everything back in its place, take some time to sweep or vacuum the floors and wipe down the closet walls and shelves, so it's fresh and free of dust when you return your clothes and accessories to the space. Then return your items to their shelves and hangers.
If you don't have the time to do this all in one day (I don't have a big clothing storage area, but some people do), you can break it down in steps over two days.
Now you're free to enjoy your Spring wardrobe! Maintenance should be easy - just pick up your clothes after you remove them, and put them in the hamper, or brush them off and spray Febreze to freshen them up so you can wear them again. Hang them up to air out if you're going to wear them again, or put them away. You'll look good every day!