I generally don’t pay much for my clothing, opting to thrift most everything I buy, for several reasons (in no particular order):
- I like a closet full of choices
- Recycling and reusing clothing is crucial for the environment
- There’s no shortage of magnificent fashion finds when thrifting
- I can buy expensive shoes without guilt
According to Elizabeth Cline, who wrote Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion, “most of our donated clothing doesn’t end up in vintage shops, as car-seat stuffing, or as an industrial wiping rag. It is sold overseas….And by one estimate, used clothing is now the United States’ number one export by volume, with the overwhelming majority sent to ports in sub-Saharan Africa.”
While that seems like a charitable deed, turns out the world has changed, and many people in developing countries are able to now afford fast fashion and super-cheap clothing from China. We can (and should) no longer use Africa as our dumping ground for unwanted textiles. In fact, there is at least talk in Eastern Africa to ban all imported used clothing by 2019.
But how much unwanted clothing could there possibly be, you ask? In one Salvation Army store in one city in America, workers bale 18 tons of unwanted clothing every three days. Read that again.
David Freeman, in Why You Should NEVER Throw Old Clothes In The Trash, writes, “In 2013 alone, Americans discarded 15.1 million tons of clothing and other textiles, and 85 percent of that wound up in landfills.” If that doesn’t sound like a big deal to you, it’s because you don’t understand the impact. As clothing decomposes, it releases a poisonous cloud of pollutants including carbon dioxide and methane, known to contribute to climate change.
To understand the full impact, David writes that during the same year, 2.3 million tons of textile waste were recycled. The impact to the environment was the equivalent of “taking 1.2 million cars off the road for an entire year.” Still, 2.3 million tons out of 17.4 million tons is just a drop in the bucket. We can do better.
You may already be donating your unwanted but usable clothing to consignment stores or thrift shops, which is fabulous. Hell, I’ve probably bought some of your stuff, so thank you!
But if you’re not already doing so, please donate all your unwanted textile items, including old rags, stained t-shirts and, yes, old underwear, because those items will be shredded and given new life. Package the unsalable items in a bag and mark it for textile recycling. You can drop off the bag at any Goodwill or Salvation Army, or in those bright yellow metal bins located in parking lots across America’s Northeast and Midwest, marked Planet Aid. (Note: Wet, moldy, mildewed or hazardous (e.g., soaked in a chemical) textiles should be thrown away.)
The other thing to do is try to buy most textiles (clothing, pillowcases, placemats, etc.) from consignment and thrift stores. Just the other day, I picked up two beautiful Crate & Barrel lily placemats for about $4.
As I mentioned earlier, one of the reasons that I love to thrift my clothing is because I can rationalize buying expensive shoes, such as my beloved Fidjis (though I do tend to get those at a deal). Now I’ve discovered London’s Ruby Shoo, and I’m totally nuts over their unique styles.
So when I found this navy and white striped skater skirt at Goodwill recently, I knew I needed navy shoes to go with them. (Can you believe I didn’t own a pair of navy shoes?) I immediately went online and found this classic low-heeled pair of Ruby Shoo beauties, for which I paid just under $60.
IMHO, here are five reasons to love Ruby Shoos:
- Shop their vegan collection of non-leather shoes and bags
- Find shoes that are whimsical, vintage, contemporary and classic
- Pair your Ruby Shoos with a Ruby Shoo matching handbag
- Check out their Wellies
- You won’t go broke — they’re not overly expensive
I’ve never been a fan of red, white and blue together (sorry, it doesn’t mean I’m not patriotic), but I love how those colors work in this outfit. I topped it off with this clear acrylic necklace that I got at a clothing-swap party — another great way to recycle clothing!
Thanks for reading, and remember to reduce, reuse and recycle. And check out the color of the day!