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What to do with un-sustainable clothes...

Monday, January 29, 2018

Here's a question that I get all the time: 

Now that you've decided to maintain a sustainable wardrobe, what do you do with everything that isn't ethical/fair/organic/thrifted?

The answer is rather minimalist: 
I keep what I will still wear/what I can still gain benefit from and everything else I either sell, re-purpose, or donate. 

Let me break it down a bit... 

Since I've been playing the solely sustainable game for about 2 years now, my wardrobe is now about 80% either fair trade, organic, or second-hand.  I love a good thrifting or consignment shop adventure and since I'm just a bit smaller than my mum, I often inherit pieces from her.  However, it's really hard for me to find jeans that fit in second-hand stores and I'd prefer to try jeans on before I buy them, so getting them online from sustainable shops has been tricky.  That being said, most of my jeans were not acquired sustainably, but because if they fit, I won't get rid of them until they fall apart, I still have several pairs of jeans from college!  Shoes are another thing that I'm not 100% sustainable on yet.  However, I have about 5 pairs of shoes that I bought during my freshman year of college (which, for the record, was 2005) and since they haven't fallen apart yet and I'm still able to receive benefits from them, I hold onto them.  If I were to get rid of these non-sustainably-sourced items, that would make them even less sustainable. 

When I downsize and get rid of things that were not sustainably-sourced, I want to do it in ways that are sustainable.  This means that I sell through local sale groups, through Poshmark, and through LetGo.  I also like to try and re-purpose things.  For example, last summer, my dad gave me about 25 t-shirts that he no longer wears.  I turned my 5 faves into tank tops (I live in tanks during the Vegas summer) and turned the rest into a t-shirt quilt.  Because there were scraps left over, I sliced them up into strips and am finally almost done making myself a rag rug.  The only waste from this project were the hems and tiny scraps if I did a bad job cutting.  By doing these projects, I kept 25 shirts (actually more since I trimmed down some of my own shirts for a quilt that I'm going to make for myself when I have enough shirts) out of the landfill and have created things that can continue to be used!  

When I donate, I have to do a bit more research.  I'm sure you've read all about how so many places that receive donations end up shipping excess donations off to third world countries where tons of emissions are put into the atmosphere and the local economies in said countries are damaged. Not good.  However, schools are great places to donate clothing.  Think about it.  Kids get sick, kids have accidents, kids come in wearing clothes that go against the dress code and their parents can't leave work to bring new clothes.  I know that in my school, the nurse goes to thrift stores and spends her own personal money on these extra clothes.  Why not donate your extra clothes to school, save the nurse some money, and help out some messy kids?  

What's sustainable about this outfit? 

: the top donates to education initiatives
: the trousers are handmade and fair trade
: the ring is handmade
: the sweater was thrifted

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