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Spring clean your wardrobe sustainably and charitably

By Apartment613 on April 18, 2014

The time has come to spring clean. This dauntingly includes tackling your wardrobe. As a dress enthusiast I know the trouble of stuffing my wardrobe until the bar bends, buckling under the weight of my well-intended enthusiasm. To provide my poor closet with some relief I often host a clothing swap with friends, where everything old is new again and the remaining items are donated to a thrift shop. However, with new organizations such as Clothes for Charity  in the UK arising, it seemed to me that there were more effective, sustainable and charitable things to do with my quality dresses that I’ve relegated to the back of the closet. And this has been substantiated by recent local efforts.

DressChelsy McAllister’s fundraising efforts popped up on my newsfeed one day. She was selling her quality clothing for charity for the Yogini Yogathon Ottawa event, which she will be participating in on May 4th at the Glebe Community Centre. Chelsy explains that the event is “a day when like minded women from the city come together and raise funds to empower women and children around the world as well as enjoy a full day of sweating our asanas off through yoga.”

She explains that “upon registration to the Yogini Yogathon Ottawa $5 from every Commitment Fee is supporting the Amethyst Women’s Addiction Centre  … $5 is [also] going to Waves of Hope . [However,] the main charity is Free the Children

Chelsy has been getting involved in charities for the past couple years but this time she decided to “do something different instead of directly asking for cash donations. One of my Yogini friends was raising money for her service trip to Africa a few months ago and one fundraiser that she did was to sell some of her vintage clothes. I loved the idea.” explains Chelsy. “With this charity fundraising I want to give back as much as I can by up-cycling, recycling and reusing.”

So what does upcycling, recycling and reusing clothing mean in the world of fashion? For answers I turned to Malorie Bertand, local eco-fashion expert as the editor in chief of EF Magazine, an online sustainable fashion, beauty and lifestyle blog, and co-owner of August May Styling, a sustainable styling agency. “We promote conscious consumerism, quality over quantity, and help clients establish ethical and sustainable fashion habits.” explains Malorie.

BlueCoatMalorie elaborates, “The fashion industry is driven by consumerism and so the ethical and sustainable fashion sector has to find a way to balance consumerism and profits with reducing its environmental footprint and social burdens. [It] uses creativity and ingenuity to find solutions to the problems inherent in the fashion industry. Fortunately, there are many ways to do this and more and more designers and fashion companies are discovering that ethical and environmental sustainability also means economic sustainability. Upcycled fashion consists of taking apart old clothing items and sewing them into new ones. Recycled fashion means taking fabric scraps and other recyclable materials and turning those into clothing items and accessories. These two types of ethical and sustainable fashion are demonstrated to be profitable by many designers and brands, such as Preloved and Patagonia.”

For those of you who love the idea of selling your quality used clothing for charity but don ‘t know where to start on the closet purging front, Malorie has some advice, “Be aware of the desire to throw everything out, leaving you with nothing to work with and a big shopping spree ahead. Instead, take the time to carefully go through each item in your closet. If you don’t absolutely love something, you won’t wear it, so donate it. If you love something but don’t know how to wear it, play around and try putting outfits together. Look for style inspiration from magazines and online sources. Keep quality over quantity in mind and try to build a wardrobe of solid staples that mix and match easily.”

purseSimilarly for those assessing their wardrobe needs and deciding to buy second hand, be it from people like Chelsy selling pieces for charity or your neighbourhood thrift shop, Malorie shares some words of wisdom “I’d warn you not to get too excited about the great deals and walk out with bags full of random pieces that won’t go with anything in your closet. Again, be mindful. Think about your lifestyle, what are your fashion needs and what do you most often wear? What can you get to make the most out of those pieces and put new outfits together? Go in with a shopping list and stick to your list.”

When asked whether she would want to see people sell their clothing for charity, Chelsy responded, “I think it would be amazing if this caught on as a trend! There are so many wonderful and easy things that we can all do to give back and pay it forward. What do you have that you haven’t worn or used in the past six months or more? Who could use it or wear it? If you sell it, who could use the money more than you could? It’s all about Karma! “

To view Chelsy’s clothing, go to her blog, email her at or to make a direct donation to help her meet her $250 fundraising goal, click here.