I’m starting this series with how people get rid of their clothes. At some point I made so many clothes that my closet was exploding. But I wasn’t convinced that someone browsing through the charity shop would want to buy my failed or unwanted makes. Another source of guilt was all the scraps I generated from sewing. Quilting and bias binding is my primary use of leftovers and fabrics like polyester crepe, acetate lining, jersey, drapey viscoses, leftover wool coating are not particularly good for this.
What I do with my old clothes and fabrics
I do not sell my clothes because it is too much hard work and they are a little worse for wear by the time I part with them. The nice stuff I have but don’t wear tend to go to my sister or my mother, if they are interested.
The rest goes to the charity shop except for the crusty old underwear and t shirts which my mum used to rip up for cleaning rags. Failing that I threw them in the bin until a few years ago when I discovered textile recycling bins. Fabric tiny scraps I tend to put in the bin. The decent sized pieces I still hang onto for some odd reason, waiting for a fabric swap.
I don’t think anyone will really be surprised at the statistics given charity culture in the UK. But what IS really interesting though is how much of the donations are actually resold locally by charities:
(Sources: Clothing Poverty by Andrew Brooks; Sustainability Consultant Jane Milburn via ABC News; and True Cost documentary)
I’ll talk about charity donations and landfill another day, but for now let me end with a spiel on the Australian experience:
Clothing disposal in Australia
I looked up how to dispose of clothes because I wasn’t able to find the same sort of data on consumer behaviour. The City of Sydney runs a website City of Sydney where you can look up what to do with any kind of stuff you don’t want anymore. It was however disappointing to find out that keeping clothing out of the general rubbish is quite involved. There were the usual options of up cycling, free cycling, selling, using as rags and then came to this:
- Charities will accept good quality clothing via a collection bin or in a shop (same as the UK).
- A charity may accept poor quality clothing – BUT you have to check with them first. Alternatively if you think your old stuff is suitable for industrial cleaning rags, you have to call Mission Australia “for further information”. And failing that, throw them in the bin! Yikes.
What do you with your old clothes? Have you thought about what happens to them? Do you care?
Click here to read part 2 on the afterlife of used clothing.