When you don’t want an article of clothing anymore, what is your first thought in terms of what to do with it? I am sure it falls along the lines of give away to a friend, some kids clothes become hand me downs, and there are many thrift stores that take donations.  Then, if your clothes have rips, tears, or stains, you simply throw them away. After all, no one can use them, so you are doing something good, right? Well, maybe not always.

“Textiles, rubber, and leather make up more than 9 percent of municipal solid waste in the U.S. according to EPA estimates. “So, that means the  American are throwing away about 81 pounds of clothing per year, currently. That number rises every year; isn’t it terrifying that it is going UP and not DOWN??  The truly sad part is about 95%  of that 81 pounds can be recycled, yet 85% of it is getting thrown out. And it is NOT always the fault of the consumer; our Government has not offered us the resources to properly recycle these textiles, so we do not know any better.

“My clothes go to people who need them, or just love thrift shopping. After I donate them they are priced, put on the racks, and bought”  This is not as true and easy as it sounds. Did you know that less than 10 percent of donations are kept by the charitable institutions and sold in their thrift shops to other Americans looking for a bargain?  The remaining 90% of what you donate is sold  to textile recycling firms. Some of the clothing is recycled into cleaning cloths or other items, however most clothing is processed, sorted, and distributed around the world to developing countries, and sold for a profit. By dumping huge amounts of cheap U.S. clothing on the streets of these other countries, places like  African textile industries are closing their factories and laying people off because they cannot make clothes as cheaply as those American items found and shipped to them. This is only a TINY peek into how overpopulation of fast fashion is destroying the economy, and ruining the environment.

While there is no easy answer to how, if , or when this will ever change, or even get better; YOU can still help by doing your part. Every little bit helps. Research who you donate too, ask questions to these companies as to what happens to clothing they don’t take.  Before you donate, check with local seamstresses or costume departments of theaters and schools to see if you have anything they might be able to use to up cycle. Have a yard sale. Perhaps even be creative, and up cycle some pieces yourself. Just participate in trying to make a difference.




Erin Bass

*Fashion Designer*Creator*Unicorn Whisperer*





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