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Tidying Up, Marie Kondo Style? Here's How to Spark Joy by Recycling Old Hijabs Responsibly


Posted on Jan 28, 2019
Erin Smith


At the start of 2019, Netflix debuted Tidying Up with Marie Kondo, which quickly became a hit show and part of a general movement to declutter, tidy up and surround oneself with things that "sparked joy." I had heard of Marie Kondo and her KonMari method before, but having not read her book yet, I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect when I watched her Netflix show.

Marie KondoLong story short, dear reader, I finished the whole series in less than three days (don’t judge). Kondo’s effervescent spirit and sensitive yet no-nonsense approach to clutter is a breath of fresh air! And her method is clearly contagious, already inspiring thousands of people to take to their own closets, garages and kitchens in hopes that a cleaner, more peaceful space will help them live less chaotic, more mindful lives.

Spoiler alert – I am one of these people, and now I’m going through my whole apartment.

Sustainability and environmentally-friendly fashion is something that’s close to my heart on a personal level – I care about social and environmental justice, and I know that means I need to do my part. As I looked at my literal mountain of clothes (Kondo insists you pile every item of clothing you own into one place, which I now viscerally understand is for maximum emotional impact) I was reminded a very important fact.

How you get rid of a thing can be just as important as how you got that thing in the first place.

Being good stewards of our resources is a value that we should all hold dear to our hearts. Like many items in our closets, it can be tempting to just toss out hijabs once they’re too worn or we’ve simply stopped wearing them. Thankfully, though, there are so many simple ways to clean out our spaces more mindfully. So step awaaaay from that trash can and consider these options first:


1. Invite your family and friends to go “shopping” – or start a hijab exchange! One woman’s trash could be another woman’s new favorite – so, if you have gently used but still wearable hijabs that you can’t bear to throw away, don’t! Make a pile and let your besties/sister/daughter/mom take their pick!

Better yet, if you know others who are also streamlining their closets, grab a few snacks, get everyone together and host a hijab exchange. It could be a fun way to put some life into each other’s closets without creating waste or spending a dime!

2. Donate them to a charity that needs them. From Muslim women’s shelters to grassroots refugee assistance organizations, there are tons of places you can donate to that will gladly accept hijab donations. If they don’t use them as hijabs, they can be repurposed as neck scarves or in many other ways.

If you have anything that’s just too threadbare to donate or has rips or stains that make it unwearable, try donating them to a school! I used to teach art classes and was constantly looking for scrap fabric that my students could turn into projects, especially these days when education budgets are so tight. Google schools and art centers in your area, send a few emails and see where else your unwanted hijabs could spark joy for budding artists :)

3. Speaking of projects … you too can get creative! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve bought things because I fell in love with a particular color or print, but for whatever reason it never really made it into my actual clothing rotation, so I turned it into a pillowcase or blouse. Even if you find you’re not using it exactly as intended, it doesn’t mean it can’t add a lively touch to your home!

Maybe there’s a print you adore but don’t have anything to match it with – you can easily turn it into a kimono with this quick pattern. Or this one! Worn-out jersey hijabs can be torn into strips and braided into a headband for spa night or even coiled into a rag rug. Or if breaking out the scissors doesn’t appeal to you, you can always get creative with using them as-is – as we speak, my kitchen curtains are tied back with one of my favorite printed hijabs :)

4. Consign them and score some cash! Some larger thrift chains like Buffalo Exchange even offer convenient mail-in options – simply request a bag, fill it up with unwanted items and drop it off at a relevant ship center. You’ll receive a cash (or store credit if that’s your jam) payout for anything they take, and they’ll even donate or recycle anything they don’t accept – although you can forgo this and have them return unwanted items to you for a nominal fee. For me, if I’m willing to consign it, the next step would be donating anyway, so I go for it. (Disclaimer – this isn’t sponsored, I’ve just done it a few times and been really happy with the convenience and nifty cash bump!)

5. Recycle – don’t trash – unusable hijabs and clothing. Do a Google search on clothing recycling in your city, as some places have public initiatives that are dedicated to gathering up unwanted clothes and textiles and either reselling, upcycling or responsibly recycling them. Some clothing retailers – like H&M, Uniqlo, North Face and others – will not only take your unwearable clothing and textiles off your hands, they’ll reward you for recycling with a discount you could use on a new purchase. While it’s important to do your own research, I certainly applaud meaningful steps that companies like this have taken to improve sustainability and encourage better practices among their customers as well!

Have you watched "Tidying Up" or are planning to clean out your hijabs and/or closet? What are some of your favorite ways to reduce, reuse and recycle? Share your ideas in the comments below!