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Make money from your wardrobe and save the planet

Selling clothes

Think about your wallet and the planet first before dumping what no longer ‘sparks joy’

If you looked at the first line and instantly recognised the phrase ‘sparks joy’, you’re likely familiar with the work of Marie Kondo. Her Netflix series went viral and as we watched Americans throw out items in their homes that no longer ‘sparked joy’, we imitated this and got rid of any items that no longer served us. Most of us focused where Marie started which was the bedroom and our overflowing wardrobes.

The problem with this process is that in our consumer culture, that’s a lot of products hitting rubbish tips or charity shop donation bins in a short space of time. Charity shops even asked that people stop donating for a period of time because they were at capacity and were having to pay to get rid of damaged goods that people had just dumped in their bins without thinking about the cost to the charity. However well‑intentioned our actions when we donate, we need to make sure we dispose of our old items in a sustainable way.

Being more mindful about how we get rid of items that we no longer use benefits both our wallets and the planet. If your local charity bins are overflowing with donations, I would suggest that you try selling old clothes you no longer wear precisely because this takes up more time than simply donating old items.

Let’s step through the process: You have to take good quality photos of the clothes, write up a description, communicate with your buyers and package up the item in order to get paid. It takes time, it takes effort and this mechanism of having to sell your clothes to get them out of your wardrobe will make you think twice before you buy anything new on a whim. And with the current rates of consumption, thinking before you buy more clothes for your wardrobe will benefit not only your budget but also the planet.

I can speak to this technique because it’s something I regularly do. To get you started, here are some websites you can use to start making money from your wardrobe:

1. Do the selling yourself: eBay

I’ve used eBay since 2011 to get rid of any clothes I no longer use while also extending the life of those clothes by selling them on to people who will use them again. The downside of using eBay is I have to do everything myself – I go to Australia Post to buy postage satchels, I take photos of the clothes, write the descriptions, communicate with customers and post items. It’s like running a mini shop except that I’ve already paid tax on the items I’m selling and typically sell them at a significant discount compared to what I originally bought them for.

And that’s the hard truth of selling on eBay – despite what click bait stories might tell you, you’re not going to make a fortune by selling your old clothes on the platform. The reason I use eBay is because it’s a fairly simple platform to use and I like not having to hold onto clothes that I no longer wear. Instead, I’m able to convert them into some extra spending money that I can use elsewhere in my budget.

2. They sell it for you: thredUP

If you don’t want the effort of doing everything yourself, you can send any unused clothes to thredUP. They will decide which items of your clothing they will sell on the thredUP platform and thredUP will pay you on consignment when your items sell. There is a potential cost as if they don’t accept your items, you will have to pay to have these returned to you. You can choose at this point to donate the clothing but without any personal control over the process, this could lead to the ethical issue of flooding charity shops to capacity if not done properly.

3. High-end clothes: Poshmark

For anyone lucky enough to afford designer clothes or more high-end fashion, Poshmark is more brand focused. You can follow brands being sold on the platform to work out the best pricing point for your items. I specifically say ‘follow’ because Poshmark is more of a social media platform, with sellers likely to get in contact with you and haggle over prices. If you have a great wardrobe and plenty of items to sell, you can also establish followers for your wardrobe, making it easier to sell items.

4. Vintage fashion: Ruby Lane

Vintage pieces can get lost within sites like eBay but that’s where Ruby Lane comes in. Ruby Lane is a specialist marketplace for selling your unique vintage pieces, serving a dedicated fan base for vintage clothing and accessories. Unlike other sites, there is a set-up fee for sellers to be able to use the platform so make sure that you have enough items to sell and that you can sell these at a price that will make the set-up fee worthwhile.

Outside these purpose-built platforms, you also have the option to use social media marketplaces, although I personally prefer the greater security and marketplace structure that more purpose-built selling platforms provide.

For those out there who have watched Marie Kondo recently and who still want to donate their items, you can absolutely donate what no longer ‘sparks joy’ ethically.

Rather than dumping your old clothes in bin bags and hurling them at the nearest charity bin, I would recommend that you take a smaller batch of clothes into each charity shop and ask them if they need the donations.

Given the charity shops I’ve experienced are more of an ecosystem than stand-alone stores, you could also ask if there is another charity shop nearby which might need your donation more. This approach does take more effort than simply throwing things in a bin but it is a more respectful and ethical way to donate old clothes and ensures that what you donate is of value to that charity store.

What I’d like everyone to take away from this article is that selling your old clothes online provides you with a sense of what it takes to responsibly dispose of clothes. Experiencing this process means that you’re less likely to spend money on clothes that you don’t really need in the future. Have a look through your wardrobe today and see what you can sell – your future self will thank you for it!

Written by Kate Crowhurst

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