The climate and your clothes: How to be more sustainable

The climate and your clothes: How to be more sustainable
Sweden is one of the most sustainable countries in the world - and yet Swedes throw away more than 5 items of clothing every second. As world leaders gather at the climate conference in Paris, a Swedish second-hand store is calling attention to the problem at home.

Myrorna is a chain of second-hand stores in Sweden, where people can donate their old items, including clothing, as well as shop for used items.

Now the company is also taking an active stance in the climate change discourse.

“Seven of 10 Swedes only use half of the clothes in their wardrobes,” says Emma Enebog, sustainability manager at Myrorna. “At Myrorna we know that we can do better, and we want to find a solution for more sustainable everyday living.”

Read more about sustainability initiatives in Sweden

Each Swede tosses an average of 8 kilogrammes of textiles and clothing per year – a move which is neither economically smart nor good for the environment. Myrorna is calling attention to the problem with the new initiative “Activate your wardrobe”.

Users can take a test online to find out which “Wardrobe Monster” they are and how they can make their clothing habits more sustainable.

“By recyling we can extend the lifecycle of clothing and relieve the burden on the environment,” she says.

According to Myrorna's surveys, 25 percent of Swedes feel frustrated when they open their wardrobe, 20 percent feel confused, and 3 percent feel guilty. Only a quarter of Swedes are happy when they take a peek at their clothing collection.

Read also: Sweden pledges more to fight climate change

“Our wardrobes are filled with locked-in resources, and it's time we activate them,” Emme Enebog says. “It's good for us as consumers and it's good for the environment.”

Photo: Tuukka Ervasti/

How to activate your wardrobe:

1. Take inventory: Look through all of the clothing you have and determine what you use and what you don't, and if you have unnecessary items or duplicates.

2. Sort: Sort your clothing into “save” and “don't save” piles, and write a list of what you actually need to add to your wardrobe, if anything. Remember that your wardrobe is not a place for long-term storage. If you haven't used an item in a long time, give it away. If it's too warn out to use, don't throw it away – take it to a textile recycling centre!

3. Clean: Get rid of any dust and dirt in your wardrobe. Make sure to use green, sustainable cleaning products – warm water should be enough to get rid of dust.

4. Create a system: Don't just shove everything back when you're done. Figure out a system that inspires you when you open your wardrobe.

5. Keep it active: Make sure to keep doing inventory every so often, and make sure you're not throwing away clothing. Unused clothing should be recycled.

Want to find a recycling centre near you? Check out this page and click the box for ‘Återvinningscentraler’.

As a world-leader in sustainability, Sweden is playing a large role at the climate conference. For instance, Sweden's government has promised to create one of the world’s first fossil fuel-free welfare states. And, if it succeeds, there will be huge gains for public health, argue three Swedish medical and environmental experts  – read more here

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