Or how to #KonMari in a way that will #SparkJoy for everyone. 


My decluttering journey

I started decluttering my wardrobe in 2014 for very practical reasons:

  1. I was running out of wardrobe space.
  2. I had outgrown certain items over the years, both in terms of style and fit.
  3. I was planning a intercontinental move in a year.

That this journey of decluttering would lead me towards the lifestyle I enjoy today—where I no longer feel the need for "more" and am contented with what I have—was not something I had envisioned at all. I will readily confess that like most I knew, I had relished the thrill of retail therapy ... maybe even a little too much as evidenced by my above-mentioned overflowing wardrobe.

But decluttering my wardrobe has turned out to be one of those life-changing journeys (I say journey because this clearly doesn't happen overnight) that made me who I am today. In fact, I am now the go-to person in my social circles when it comes to decluttering, probably thanks to them learning of how much I enjoy a good overview of my possessions, which (no judgement please) entails having an itemised Excel spreadsheet of everything I own.

I promise you no spreadsheets will be expected from you.

Decluttering responsibly?

Now you may be thinking: "Wait - you mean I can't just dump the decluttered clothes into my rubbish bin?" Well - you can, but do you want to? Singapore's only landfill is projected to run out of space by 2035, which is not very far from now. If we don't want to be living among our trash in the near future, we need to do everything we can now to minimise waste. With textile/leather being one of the two waste streams in 2019 with the lowest recycling rates at only 4% (the other is plastic), there is so much opportunity for improvement here!

But wait - what if you're already dropping off your decluttered items at the Salvation Army? Aren't you already doing a good deed through your decluttering? Sadly ... the answer is it depends. More than 70% of the clothes donated globally are exported to Africa when there are plenty of people locally who could benefit from these items. Often this is because charity shops simply don't have the retail space to display everything they've received nor the warehouse space for the amount of excess stock. They also often lack the manpower to regularly sort through the donations they receive. So our decluttered items overstock problem is then exported abroad, which is another issue in itself.

No worries, it's not all doom and gloom. If you want to declutter responsibly, #KonMari in a way that will #SparkJoy for everyone if you will, here are my personal decluttering tips, specific to clothing and Singapore.

5 ways to responsibly dispose of old clothes in good condition:

  1. Give it away
    (a) to a friend
    (b) OLIO app
    (c) FreeCycle Facebook group
    (d) Freegood app
    (e) Singapore Really Really Free Market

  2. Sell it
    e.g. in FB groups, on online platforms (either individually or as a “grab bag”) or at flea markets
    (a) Carousell (all brands)
    (b) Refash (has preferred brands)
    (c) The Fifth Collection (pre-loved luxury)
    (d) Style Tribute (pre-loved luxury)
    (e) Vestiaire Collective (pre-loved luxury)
    (f) Reebonz (pre-loved luxury)
    (g) flea markets, e.g. Fleawhere, The Luggage Market (all brands)

  3. Participate in a swap
    (a) The Fashion Pulpit (permanent studio space at Marina One)
    (b) Swapaholic (pop-up events and online)

  4. Donate to
    !!! Please check in advance if these charities are currently open to accepting donations due to frequent overstock problems !!!
    (a) Dress for Success (work-appropriate clothes only!)
    (b) SCWO New2U Thrift Shop
    (c) MINDS
    (d) TOUCH 301 Thrift Mart
    (e) Salvation Army
    (f) Uplift Project (only bras in good condition!)

  5. If the clothes are not in good condition, you can recycle them by dropping them off at
    (a) Green Square
    (b) your neighbourhood Cash-for-Trash programme
    (c) H&M and Uniqlo
    OR (d) cut them up to use as kitchen rags (my old cotton school t-shirts are the best for these)

For hygiene reasons, please do not donate undergarments, swimwear, and worn earrings!

Easy, isn't it? There's really no reason to throw any textiles in the rubbish bin!

I've decluttered, now what?

Now that you've decluttered, it's very important to be mindful of what goes back into your closet moving forward so we can avoid this being a yearly affair. I found that one of the most effective ways to avoid re-cluttering my wardrobe was to find a pattern among the items I've decluttered vs those I've kept; this could be with regards to colour, style, materials, etc.

For example, while decluttering I discovered that the items I wore the least often and were therefore relegated to the depths of my wardrobe were louder colours and prints, whereas the items that I reached for time and time again were the monochrome colours of black, white and grey. Understanding that this was my day-to-day style (yours may be different!), I decided to only add items in this colour scheme moving forward.

Another example is my preference of materials. I realised I didn't like the feeling of synthetic materials (e.g. polyester, acrylic) against my skin, especially not in hot and humid Singapore. As a result, I was mindful to add only items made from natural or semi-synthetic fibres (e.g. cotton, linen, Tencel) after the declutter to ensure I got the most wears out of my clothes and won't have to "re-declutter" items again after.

And that's it!

We hope the above tips were helpful. Let us know if you try any of the above decluttering methods, and how your experience was! And if there's any method that we've missed or any questions you have - give us a shout! (@shopbettr)


About Chu

Chu Wong

Having worked on business strategy and implementation in the corporate world, Chu now focuses on solving problems and increasing efficiency in projects related to the environment and social causes. Chu specialises in sustainable fashion, with experience spanning across multiple organisations in the industry, both non- and for-profit. She is currently the founder of Shop Bettr and the Country Coordinator of Fashion Revolution Singapore.