Earth Day Project - Don't Buy More Clothes

Posted on April 21, 2016 at 7:20 AM

I know that I promised a recycling clothes post, but I've decided to rant about used clothing instead!.

A friend of my daughter's, a nurse, spends six months a year volunteering at an AIDS hospital in Africa. Many of the families of AIDS victims (mostly women with kids) are the poorest of the poor in their communities. She helped to set up a local initiative for these women to make fashionable accessories from the little bits of leftover fabric made at a local, traditional, textile manufacturer. The accessories, mostly small bags, are beautifully handmade by the village women using eco-friendly treadle sewing machines (remember those?). These bags are made to be sold at local markets. 

However, the influx of tons and tons of used clothing (purses and shoes), from North America and Europe, selling at low prices makes it extremely difficult for these women to sell their products. And what, you ask, is the source of these castoffs? Well, our charity shops, for one. Tons of clothes that are 'recycled' by charity shops are destined for developing countries where they are sold at local markets so cheaply that local clothing makers can't survive. In sending our old mass-produced garments to Africa, we are depriving people there of a viable locally-based livelihood, and at the same also destroying traditional clothing manufacturing.

Do we really need to buy new outfits every season? Is it so important to be in 'style' and toss out perfectly good clothing before heading out to buy more? The irony in all this is that if you are in need of a new coat, sweater, blouse, etc, one of the best places to buy good quality are charity shops in your home town.

If you sew, you can make a second-hand good quality outfit fit better or be more fashion-forward. Or you can repurpose that outfit into something else: the internet is bursting with sites that offer thousands of ways for you to repurpose those castoffs: turn a t-shirt into a bag, jeans into a pillow cover, make pillow covers from old shirts, etc., etc. If you don't sew yourself, hire a local seamstress to do it for you.

Any used clothing that does not end up in the ragtrade or  in developing countries, ends up in landfills - another reason to keep clothes buying to a minimum. According to the Triple Pundit website, "Decomposing clothing releases methane, a harmful greenhouse gas and a significant contributor to global warming. There are dyes and chemicals in fabric and other components of clothing and shoes that can leach into the soil, contaminating both surface and groundwater."

You''ll not only be helping to keep used clothing from being dumped abroad but also landfills, but give someone in your hometown a job. 

Think about it and then read about the impact your your discarded clothes have on poor countries.

Where do your old clothes go?  

What Happens to Your Used Clothing?

The hidden trade in our second-hand clothes given to charity. 

Let's keep clothing out of the landfills.

Categories: Environment, Fabric & Textiles

Post a Comment


Oops, you forgot something.


The words you entered did not match the given text. Please try again.

Already a member? Sign In


Oops! This site has expired.

If you are the site owner, please renew your premium subscription or contact support.