Seven Stages of Grief: How to Get Rid of Jeans

Did you know the average woman has 7 pairs of jeans? That’s the average, I’ve actually had ladies tell me that number is really more like 10 or even 20 pairs of jeans.

But what’s really surprising is that of those jeans, most women only wear 3, maybe 4 of those regularly.

Does that mean you have to get rid of jeans you don’t wear? I’ll be the first to admit that sometimes it’s really hard to part with jeans. Any time I have to let a pair (or more) go, I literally go through the 7 Stages of Grieving:

Stage 1, Shock: I can’t believe these jeans don’t fit!? I just bought them this past fall!

Stage 2, Denial: There’s no way these are the wrong size. I must just be bloated or something.

Stage 3, Bargaining: Ok, I’ll hit the gym 5 times a week…. I don’t care if I miss time with my friends and it hurts and I’m exhausted, as long as they’ll fit again.

Stage 4, Guilt: I wish I hadn’t spent that money on jeans… or had all that cake!

Stage 5, Anger: Arggghhh I’m never going to buy nice things again!!

Stage 6, Depression: This sucks so much… I’m gonna go buy some cheap jeans.

Stage 7, Acceptance: It’s been a year since I wore these. These jeans clearly don’t fit anymore. Time to clean out the closet.

Sound familiar? I went through this with the pair of jeans that actually inspired me to start Redenim. And yes, it took me a LONG time to get to that acceptance part. But you don’t have to let it go a year, and you shouldn’t.

Sorting Through Your Jeans

When it comes to paring down, I look to the experts.

Project 333 is all about minimalism for your wardrobe with principles that apply when you’ve got 7, or 10, or 15 pairs of jeans piled up in your closet. This is their approach:

Start making piles of your jeans and be ruthless.

  • Pile One: I love these jeans. They fit me well and I wear them frequently: Keep
  • Pile Two: I want to keep these but I don’t know why. Put them in a box for 30 days. If you don’t miss them, they go to pile 3 but don’t take them out of the box and look at them!
  • Pile Three: These jeans don’t fit me or my style or they are no longer in wearable condition: donate/upcycle. More on that below.
We’ve also created our own little flow chart to help you. Obviously there will be some seasonality at play here so we encourage you to do this every season:

Saying Goodbye

So what do you do now? Gather up the jeans from pile 3 and prepare yourself to part with them.

  1. Take a deep breath.
  2. Remind yourself why they are in the pile they’re in: They don’t fit, they’re out of style, or they’re unwearable.
  3. Thank them for the good times; forgive them for the times they made you feel bad; and get ready to send them on their way.

Now that you’ve said a proper goodbye to your jeans, it’s time to get them out of your closet and onto better things!

Sell Your Jeans

I’ve never felt more unfashionable than anytime I’ve ever tried to sell my jeans to a consignment shop only to be told they’re not “on trend” enough.

That said, if your jeans are in really good shape, are still considered in style, or are high end, you may have some luck at Plato’s Closet or Buffalo Exchange. But more often than not, you’ll probably end up like me, driving them back home with a few additional items you SWORE you weren’t going to buy.

Or if you don’t feel like taking the trip to one of those spots to be told they aren’t interested in buying any of your jeans, you can always try Poshmark or Ebay.

Hats off to you if you’re able to actually sell any of your jeans, but the process often takes time, and that’s more time they spend sitting around your home or weaseling their way back into your closet. We recommend a few donation options to get them out the door.

Recycle Your Jeans: Good for unwearable denim

I was pretty shocked to discover that when we donate clothes to the Goodwill, Salvation Army and other charitable organizations it’s really just a long road to a landfill in many cases. This isn’t because they are bad at repurposing clothing, it’s that we donate more clothing than they could ever possibly re-home.

But there are places where you can donate jeans that clearly state where they will end up.

Blue Jeans Go Green, a Cotton Incorporated program* will take your jeans (wearable or not) and 100% recycle them into housing insulation, portions of which are then donated to charitable organizations such as Habitat for Humanity. Get a shipping label to send your jeans Blue Jeans Go Green here.

Or donate to charities such as the Denim Project which upcycles denim into new things “to uplift women and children through job creation, education, and orphan prevention” in Haiti. Find out how to donate your jeans to the Denim Project.

Why does this rock? Not only do you know where your jeans are headed, these recycling processes divert MILLIONS of textile pieces from landfills.

Donate Your Jeans: Good for clean, wearable denim

That’s not to say donating denim is off the table. Here in Austin, Texas where Redenim is headquartered we donate jeans to S.A.F.E. Austin, an organization dedicated to stoping domestic abuse.

Find a women’s shelter, a domestic shelter, homeless youth shelter, or local church that gives your donations back to the community in need.

Why does this rock? Donating to small, local organizations is a good way to better ensure that your jeans are ending up in the hands of people who need and want them.

Upcycle Your Jeans: Good for unwearable denim

I personally don’t have the patience sewing skills to upcycle jeans into much of anything, but there are a million things you can do with jeans. And no, turning them into jorts does not count as upcycling!

This is tricky though because you have to be 100% committed to repurposing your own jeans and not susceptible to sneaking them back into the closet.

I love these/would love it if someone made these for me:

Denim storage baskets

Denim rug

Denim stuffed whale

Now that you know how to part with your jeans and what you can do with them, get to it! What are you most excited to do? Will you donate your jeans, recycle them, or upcycle them? Share in the comments!

*Blue Jeans Go Green does not identify as a charitable organization. However, 100% of denim received is recycled into cotton insulation. No jeans are resold as is the case with some denim recycling/salvage companies.

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