Keep clothes looking new longer and make them last.

    • To reduce wear, wash items less often, only when they need it.  Wear clothes more than once between laundering
    • Turn dark and colored clothes inside out before laundering.
    • Wash in cold water and save energy. Some detergents are designed for cold water. Others work well in cold water, even if not specifically designed for it.
    • Minimize use of the drier to avoid abrasion and harsh heat.  Dry clothes on a rack or clothes line, when possible.
    • To prevent new jeans from fading when washed, soak in 4 tbsp. vinegar mixed with 5 quarts water for about 30 minutes. Then, wash inside out.
    • Click here for tips to maintain clothes, restore whites, brighten colors and refresh blacks.
    • When you change sizes or styles change, tailor you clothes.  Do it yourself or go to a seamstress, tailor or dry cleaners that offers tailoring. 
  • Clean stains from clothing. 
    • Find instructions and videos online for common stains made by ink, wine, sweat, rust, grass and baby formula.  Check out  How Stuff Works for suggestions on cleaning with baking soda, and tips for specific stains. 
    • Google tips for keeping clothing stain free, including Live Renewed a site and blog for living green and frugally. Spray clothing with a 50:50 solution of vinegar and water before washing to help with general stain removal.  Emily, the site’s author recommends a similar 50:50 solution of hydrogen peroxide and water for berry, blood and ketcup stains.  She recommends lemon juice as a natural brightening agent to replace bleach.
    • Other resources for cleaning stains, not necessarily the green way, include http://www.ehow.com, http://housekeeping.about.com/od/stainremoval/Stain_Removal_Ideas_and_Tips.htm.
  • Repair and mend do not replace. 
  • Learn to sew!  Replace buttons. Mend, remodel or make your own clothes.  Learn to knit and reupholster furniture.
  • Teach yourself.  You Tube has a world of how-to videos. Find inspiration in the many how to make projects featured in “instructables” www.instructables.com, including projects that will help you re-use items in ways you never thought possible such as upcycling a wool sweater into a hooded circle scarf and leg warmers.
  • Gather Here is a stitch lounge in Cambridge at 370 Broadway offering classes, and work space with machines, supplies, tables and space for creating and meeting people with similar interests. 
  • The Cambridge Center for Adult Education offers sewing and knitting courses.
  • Sew Low Discount Fabrics at 473 Cambridge St and Sewfisticated Discount Fabrics at 14 McGrath Highway sell fabric and other sewing materials, as well as Singer Sewing and Vacuum Center at 200 Elm St in Davis Sqand, which also offers  beginner and advance sewing classes as well as quilting lessons.  

Buy used clothing, shoes, and accessories. Sell or donate yours.

Buying pre-owned clothes has many advantages. It saves money, reduces waste by preventing items from going to landfills, reduces use of resources consumed when items are made new, and eliminates packaging for new clothing and shoes.

  • Buy second-hand clothing. 
    • Cambridge has over a dozen thrift stores and consignment shops. second-hand clothing stores including Goodwill, the Garment District, Salvation Army, Boomerangs and several more. For a map of these stores, as well as clothing donation drop boxes, click here.
    • All of the following can be donated as long as it's dry and clean. It's OK if items are torn, stained, broken or missing something. Even paint and wine stains are OK, just nothing with oil. Tie shoes together or wrap with a rubber band.

      YES: pants, shorts, shirts, pajamas, t-shirts, jerseys, sweatshirts, sweatpants, sweaters, jeans, dresses, skirts, coats, jackets, suits, undergarments, bras, socks, flipflops, boots, shoes, slppers, belts, ties, purses, hats, bedsheets, pillows, pillow cases, blankets, curtains, drapes, table linens, stuffed animals, and fabric scraps.

      NO: dirty rags, nothing wet, nothing soiled, no carpets, no rugs, no mildewed items.
    • Go to garage sales. Use Craig’s List, E-Bay, Freecycle and Half.com to advertise or find out about items.
  • Borrow from a friend or rent for special occasions.
    • Used tuxedos can be rented from Keezers, www.keezers.com
    • For children, consider buying, selling and sharing children’s clothes on line: http://www.thredup.com/ Donate your children’s hand-me-downs to friends or family.
  • Swap!
    • Take your clothes to a clothing swap. Try an online service like Dig n Swap, for swapping fashionable clothing and accessories. www.dignswap.com
    • If you are a student, check out college and university resources. MIT's Furniture Exchange takes donations from anyone of good, usable furniture, including sofas, chairs, tables, bookcases, desks, bed frames, futons, dressers, cabinets, lamps, rugs, small appliances, cooking utensils, dishes, children's items, bikes, and more. To purchase, you must have a student i.d. from MIT, BU, Harvard, or Suffolk.
    • Some organizations accept and re-use shoes such as Soles4Souls, backonmyfeet.org Use Google or Yelp.com
    • Others specialize in other clothing: Some clothing can be mailed to a recycler. www.brarecycling.com

Reduce your wardrobe - clean out closets.

    • With your style in mind, take the time to sort through your closet and drawers. Put clothes in piles. Identify unwanted items. Get tips from Bea Johnson in her blog: http://zerowastehome.blogspot.com/2010/04/zero-waste-closet.html.
    • At the change of seasons, identify clothes you didn't touch the previous season for donation or re-sale. At holidays, weddings and other celebrations, eliminate special occasion clothes that aren't your style, don't fit, or you don't like.
    • Allow your spouse, partner or child to pick two, or more, items from your closet to eliminate, and you pick two from his or hers.
    • Donate or re-sell unwanted clothes or shoes.
  • Simplify
    • Have realistic expectations. Accomplish wardrobe reductions in small steps, one season at a time, one drawer at a time. Change takes time. 
    • Pick a few solid colors for the basis of your wardrobe. Some mininimalists recommend black, gray, and white, with color accents.  See, “How to create a minimalist 5 piece French wardrobe” by Paula Montes
    • Develop your own style, either on your own, or with the help of a fashion or style consultant. If clothes in your wardrobe do not work with your style, get rid of them. If it does not fit your style, do not buy it.
    • For how you can develop a style to keep clutter out of your wardrobe:
    • Buy socks that are all one color to avoid mismatches. Buy in multipacks of the same, not different, socks.
    • Pledge not to buy anything new for a month. Buy one item at the end. Borrow from a friend.
    • Rent clothes and accessories for special occasions. In Cambridge, for example men can rent used tuxedos at Keezers, http://www.keezers.com/

Rethink your purchases

  • Learn about ‘sustainable fashion” and “eco fashion.”
    • Wikipedia has a good overview of the growing philosophy and trend of sustainable fashion, which is to use clothing created and produced with consideration to environmental and social impacts, including the carbon footprint of manufacturing the fabric. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sustainable_fashion. Although there is some controversy about the chemicals used in processing cotton, natural fabrics and fibers that are not petroleum based are usually favored. These include cotton, jute, hemp, flax, wool, silk and angora.
    • Think carefully about brands, fashion-driven purchases. Is the brand, having this year’s fashion so important?
  • Be sure about your purchase
    • Buy good quality. Whether buying pre-owned or new, buy good quality clothing and shoes, not cheap flimsy ones. When they are well made, of good materials, they will last. Tips are available on line from sites such as wikihow. www.wikihow.com/Choose-Good-Clothes
    • Always get the right fit. Try on everything before buying.
    • Look for fabrics that will cross seasons - heavy cotton, lightweight wool.
  • Buy second-hand.
    • To find gently used, current fashion, shop re-sale stored in higher-end towns and neighborhoods. Some consignment shops will only take clothes more than two years old.


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