Around this time of year most people (in America as I can't speak for any other country) usually start to gather the clothes that they haven't worn much of in the past year or so and put them in a pile that will find it's way to another pile for Goodwill, Salvation Army, church donations and other charitable organizations. This is a wonderful and gracious act as there are too many boys and girls out there that don't have the clothes that they need during the winter seasons and the act of donating clothes has become ridiculously easy over the years. I myself have donated many bags of clothes in my short lifetime and have surely brought in other people's donated clothes into my own home when I go thrift shopping. Any how my point today is not to pat ourselves on the back and talk about how great we are for donating clothes but about how this might actually be a bad thing.
I recently read an article on the Business of Fashion entitled The Trouble with Second Hand Clothes where they go on to explain that contrary to its innocent image, the second-hand clothing industry is dominated by “hidden professionalism" where the majority of donated clothing is sold to second-hand clothing merchants, who sort garments, then bundle them in bales for resale, usually outside the country in which the clothing was originally donated.
"The second-hand clothing market has a negative impact in donor markets, as well. Consumers in the global North throw away vast quantities of clothing every year. In the UK, for example, people dump 1.4 million tonnes of clothing into landfills, annually. To combat dumping, charities and local governments have increasingly instituted clothing recycling programs. But, ultimately, recycling tackles the symptom not the cause — and gives consumers a false sense of security that the rate at which they are consuming and disposing of clothing is at all sustainable.
The truth is, “fast fashion” is a deeply unsustainable model. And by emphasizing recycling rather than tackling the root cause of why people continue to buy and dispose of larger and larger quantities of lighter, thinner and less well-made clothing, consumers are reassured that they can continue shopping as normal."
“There is now this notion that fashion is just a commodity, and that we are just consumers,” laments Dilys Williams, director of the Centre for Sustainable Fashion at the London College of Fashion. “It doesn’t do justice to us or to fashion. Fashion should be about cherishing clothes and creating an identity, [but today it's] based on constant adrenalin and the excitement of purchasing. There is no anticipation or dreaming. Nothing lasts or is looked after. We each have a mini-landfill in our closets.”
Strong words that are very much needed in today's society. Our shopping habits have gotten so out of whack and that is probably why it disturbs me a little when I follow fashion bloggers and all they have to talk about is what they bought recently and not about how that relates to creating their identity. It's not about how they are living life in these new clothes but about just the clothes and nothing more. Remember that saying "You wear the dress, don't let the dress wear you." Well we are all being worn by fashion and it's time to stop this ridiculous and destructive cycle. So think twice this year before you go and donate those 2 trash bags of clothes you no longer want or wear and then spend several hundred dollars on Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales because it's too cheap to pass up, right? There's a reason it's cheap, remember that.