I don’t know about you, but as soon as the seasons look like they’re even considering a change, my thoughts immediately head to my wardrobe. I love cozying up in big sweaters and leggings in the wintertime (yay leggings!) almost as much as I love pulling out the sundresses for summertime. But let’s face it, as the years go by, our wardrobes change. Maybe you lost (or put on) a few pounds or maybe the cardigan that you fell in love with on the mannequin and bought on impulse without trying on has just hung in the closet for a year and a half.

You might be tempted to toss some of those pieces out with the garbage and you certainly wouldn’t be alone in that behavior. Did you know that according to the EPA, the average American throws away 68-plus pounds of fabric every year? Multiplied by 317 million people — the current population of the U.S. — that’s a number so large it hurts my head. And we ladies are especially bad about tossing our clothes in the trash. A study released by the National Institute of Environmental Health Science states that women produce seven times more used clothing than men. “Produce” is just a fancy way of saying toss out, if we’re being honest.

You can always take your used or unwanted clothing to your local charity drop-off location to avoid throwing them away. This probably just leads to a spectacular pile of clutter — or is that just me? In all seriousness, I purged my closet at the start of the New Year and the pile is still sitting in the front room of my house. So instead of being like me, host a clothing swap party. This is an especially fun thing to do before the holidays or (if you have teens) before big events like prom or homecoming.

A few weeks before the party, send out invites. I love to set up a Facebook event and invite people that way, but there are a number of user-friendly paper-free ways to get people to your shindig. Check out Google Events (similar to Facebook events) and Evite, an email-based, eco-friendly invitation system. On the invitation, give guests a minimum number of items to bring. A good rule of thumb is three items, but make sure everyone knows that they can bring their whole closet if they want to.

As guests arrive, arrange items by type: handbags in one corner, shoes in another. Use a rope suspended across a door frame to hang hangers on. Folding tables make great display surfaces for jeans and slacks. Tell everyone to keep their pesky mitts off the goods until everyone has arrived. I find that party-goers have far more patience when you feed them, so make sure to have snacks and drinks ready.

Once you’ve arranged everything, allow shopping to commence, with the rule that for the first round no one gets to take more than what they initially brought. After everyone has made his or her initial selections, encourage more shopping. Besides, the leftover clothes are just going to go to charity, so might as well. At the end of the event, everyone gets an updated wardrobe and perhaps a few new friends.

By Megan Winkler

Eco-nerd, solar power enthusiast, DIY diva and professional coffee drinker, Megan has written everything from courses in healthcare and psychology to interior design and cooking advice. She has a master’s degree in military history, owns two chainsaws, is a collector of strange trivia and a world renowned Pinterest pro. She is constantly looking for better ways to do things.