Adopting a Minimalist Wardrobe for a Cleaner Closet, Cleaner Mind

By Rob in Thinking Sustainably

The dress for working at Tom’s of Maine is pretty casual, but I admit that I like to have a variety of clothes to choose from in my wardrobe. That’s why my cluttered closet is one of the first things I usually tackle when it’s time to do Spring cleaning. For all the new clothes that have been added, I need to get rid of the old.

This year I’m trying to take steps to break the cycle. In addition to the expense of buying new clothes and the work of cleaning the old clothes out, I’ve learned several reasons why adopting a minimalist wardrobe might be the right thing to do.

A Minimalist Wardrobe Equals Less Stress

More options are always a good thing, right? Wrong! Recent research has shown that the more choices we have the more time and energy we take to make a decision. And this decision-making gets even more complicated because having more choices increases our expectations. When I think about the many mornings I have spent staring at my shirts and trying to make a decision on what to wear to work, I realize I’ve fallen victim to choice overload.

Reduce Your Environmental Impact

The trend towards “Fast Fashion” is a relatively new one. Americans buy double the amount of clothing they did in the 1990s, and the impact on the environment is severe. Textiles take massive amounts of water to produce, and synthetic textiles require chemicals. According to the National Resources Defense Council around 81 pounds of textiles are thrown away every year by every person in the U.S.

Break the Cycle

If you are like me, your first step in getting rid of old clothing might be to donate it. While keeping clothing out of landfills is a good thing, there can be some negative impacts of this cycle as well, particularly when the donation ends up in developing countries. It has been shown clothing donated to countries like Kenya and Uganda had a huge negative impact on local industries, and several countries have banned the import of donated textiles to help protect their economies.

So what to do?

Adopting a minimalist wardrobe requires a shift in the way most of us think about clothing. Many of the brands that promote “slow fashion” are more expensive than others, but they also tend to be built with durability in mind. This requires a change in how we think about the cost of clothing, because we have to consider the long term value over the immediate hit. It also requires us to think about how your personal style can be built around durability and function instead of constantly changing looks. For me, the adopting a minimalist wardrobe is a change I am making in steps. I haven’t thrown everything out and started from scratch, I’m just making an effort to focus on higher quality when I really need something new.

I also have a 10 year old, and thinking long term is a little bit harder when you’re buying clothes for someone who seems to grow another inch every two weeks. So I’ve also been shopping more in local thrift stores and resale boutiques. When you do that you are extending the useful life of the clothing, putting some dollars into your local economy, and reducing the likelihood of the clothing being packed up and shipped off to another country. And many of these stores donate a portion of their profits to community causes, so it’s really a win all around!

Do you have any tips for creating a minimalist wardrobe? We’d love for you to share them with us on Facebook! Use the hashtag #lesswastechallenge to let us know how you are reducing your impact.

Why It’s Good

Adopting a minimalist wardrobe requires a focus on durability and function. We end up buying less in the long term, reducing the environmental impact of our clothing purchases. In addition, having fewer choices has been shown to help reduce stress.