It is always exciting to purchase new items, to treat yourself because you feel the need of a little confidence boost. Either to walk into a favorite store to try on clothes your subconscious mind says you must have, or a quick browse online, resulting in a virtual shopping cart full of items to be delivered at home. Nowadays, it is that instant to purchase clothing items, a few clicks and a couple of days later your order has arrived. We are becoming so reliant on fast fashion, as well as subconsciously following the progression of fast consumerism, that we forget to appreciate the work that has gone into making our clothes. We need to handle these clothes sustainably even when we no longer need them.
Donating to second hand stores & Charities
There is that great feeling when you get rid of your unwanted clothing to donate to charity; you are de-cluttering as well as helping those in need. However, before donating to charity or any other organisations, make sure you do your research. Look more into how the charity functions, what they plan do with the donated items and who eventually receives them. Ideally it is better if you donate to local non-profit organizations such as family or homeless shelters, churches or children hospitals, this way you are helping out your own community. This manner of donating ensures that you miss the middleman and the donations go directly to those in need.
When donating nationally or through distributed recycling bins, the clothes often travel further overseas or end up sitting in textile recyclers. Moreover, due to increased consumer consumption, the volume of items donated has been increasing rapidly; this consequently has become expensive and difficult for charities to handle donations. There are some charities that sell donated clothes to traders in developing countries. Ironically, these very countries are where the clothes were originally made.
So you see, factory workers slave away to make garments under unethical conditions, those items are then sold to the brands and bought by you at a low cost, worn a few times and then thrown away to charity bins, which could then get shipped to those people that made the clothes! Some African countries want to ban donated clothing from being resold locally, as this is preventing the local textile industry from developing and creating local work opportunities.
Avoid throwing those unwanted clothing items straight into domestic bins, which will eventually end up in the landfill. With increasing textile waste reaching landfills and incinerators, fibres are broken down in a way that they begin to emit greenhouse gases such as methane, a toxic chemical. This pollutes the air we breathe, which can cause serious health problems, but also harm the environment.
Ultimately, we need to reconsider our purchasing habits; to shop less but choose better quality. When we as consumers purchase an item, we have a responsibility to handle it with care and evidently use sustainable methods when we no longer want it. To hold on to those clothes for longer, even if you have to be creative or swap, hand down and donate.