Monday, July 21, 2008

Clothing: reducing / reusing / recycling

I ran across this blog a while ago called Little Brown Dress. The idea behind it really captivated me. Here's the short description:

"365 days. one brown dress. a one-woman show against fashion."

Alex Martin (Little Brown Dress woman) goes on to explain her project:

"In this performance, I challenged myself to reject the economic system that pushes over-consumption, and the bill of goods that has been sold, especially to women, about what makes a person good, attractive and interesting. Clothes are a big part of this image, and the expectation in time, effort, and financial investment is immense."

Well said. I don't disagree.

I am truly in awe as I walk through a shopping mall and see the amount of clothing for sale. Do we really need all of this new clothing? What's wrong with the stuff we have on? Who is buying all of this? And what are we doing with it once we are done? Here are a few statistics I found:
  • 85% of the clothing sold in the United States ends up in landfills
  • You throw away 67.9 pounds of used clothing and rags each year, if you're like the typical American. Collectively, Americans discard two quadrillion pounds (that's a two with fifteen zeroes) of used clothing and textiles into the landfills each year.

Here is how we approach the issue of clothing-waste in our family:
  • Our kids often wear hand-me-downs from relatives and friends (they're young now, so this is easy)
  • I shop at consignment or thrift stores. This includes shoes, belts, and purses.
    • I wear used clothing, but not exclusively. Some day I'll inventory my wardrobe and post the results - to see if I really walk the walk!
  • We sell clothing at garage sales and sell them at children's used clothing stores
  • We give children's clothes to friends, or give them to charity
  • We cut up the more absorbent clothing and use it them for rags
  • Only the stained / non-absorbent clothing winds up in the trash.

Do you have any ideas on the subject of clothing in our country? How do you reuse / reduce / and recycle your clothing?


Peter Edstrom said...

Sarah does a great job getting the kids clothes used. Typically garage sales or once-upon-a-child. Typically we buy a few nice things to round off the wardrobe. Myself, I buy "new" from things like Lands End Outlets and most of the time I wear it till it has holes (or nearly does). Some is converted to rags, but the items that goes unworn for a couple years are donated. Just last month we went through Sarah's clothes and donated 45 gallons of clothes.

It all ebbs and flows. Lately I've had too many sweaters, too many black tshirts, and not enough pants. I'm trying wear the sweaters during the winter, but seem to have been on an anti-sweater kick for the last couple seasons.

Annie Jones said...

Most of my own clothing comes from garage sales or thrift stores. I will wear some used shoes, but not my New Balance tennis shoes. I wear them almost every day for comfort and suppor. By the time someone else's make it to a garage sale or thrift store, they are usually too worn out.

Most of the clothing we buy for our granddaughter (who lives with us) is also second-hand, but there are occasional items she needs right away and I'll have to by them new.

Hubby's jeans are almost always new (but can be had for $13 at Sam's Club). He works construction and goes through them quickly, but used jeans seem to only last a few weeks for him. He only rarely will wear used shoes, but lots of his shirts have come from garage sales.

When we're done with shoes, we donate them back to thrift, sell them on eBay if they are in exceptional condition, pass them to someone we know, or turn them into rags. Lately I've been thinking of making rag rugs. If I do, that will be another way to recycle clothing.