Overconsumption: How considered shopping & Ethical Donations Can be a solution
WORDS BY RIA BARRIOS
We are led to believe that if we donate our clothes, we are doing our part to reduce waste and live more sustainably. Contrary to popular belief, not all donated clothes go to those in need. In fact, the second-hand clothing received by developing countries is ruining their textile industry and damaging their economy. Fashion and sustainability expert, Elizabeth Cline, explained to Nylon Magazine that “there are just far more unwanted clothes in the United States than there is demand.”
While manufacturers absolutely play a huge role in this global issue, the root of the problem begins with us, the consumers. The more we demand product, the faster companies will compete to create it and end up with a case of overproduction– not to mention the number of consumers who purchase a garment with the intent to wear it only once. A simple solution is to build a capsule wardrobe; a collection of pieces that can easily be paired to create multiple outfits. These pieces are timeless and flattering; they will be on trend for years to come. At the same time, this doesn’t mean that you never buy anything trendy again. It’s perfectly okay to purchase trendy items from ethical & sustainable brands – as long as you genuinely adore the trend and intend on wearing these garments to their full extent.
Rather than handing off the responsibility of your unwanted clothes to overflowing donation centers at resell secondhand stores, we as the consumer need to do our part. If we can adjust our mentality into not buying more than we need, it will be the first step to minimizing the demand for wear-and-toss clothes and unwanted garments.
The second step will be finding easy new ways to repurpose apparel to give unwanted textiles new life. This small action will create a ripple effect – decreased demand, decreased textile waste, and a greater appreciation for beautiful designs that you’ll wear and cherish for a lifetime.
Further considerations: Donating lightly worn apparel you’ve grown out of or have only worn for a handful of occasions does have the potential to do good in our world. Rather than donating to chains which resell your garments, you can choose to donate to organizations, such as Dress for Success, which donate clothing directly to those in need at no charge. For clothing we no longer have a need for or no longer plan on wearing, this is an ethical alternative to reselling or throwing out clothes in perfect or great condition. Of course, if it’s an item that’s quite worn and well-loved, it’s best to choose upcycling rather than donating (those in need are deserving of clothes in good condition) or discarding them to be tossed into a landfill. Based on the condition of your garments and the use you plan on getting out of them, it’s always best to make a considered decision as to what will best benefit people and the planet.
Before the age of 10, Bethanie was already developing as an artist with writing classes, illustration, dance, theatre and piano. Later, clients from fashion, real estate and corporate sectors rounded her creative, technical and social media writing skills. Naturally, her artistic interests transposed onto film and production. Today, Bethanie hosts and produces interviews with international lifestyle brands and contributes to SNEZNY travel magazine.