Until I watched ABCs War On Waste, I hadn’t realised just the extent of waste created by clothing. I had no idea that there were people who actually bought new clothes each week, or wore something only once.
I wear clothes until they literally die. A fair bit of my wardrobe is a decade or so old, and items go through the cycle – ‘good clothes’, to ‘casual clothes’ to ’round the house clothes’, to ‘gardening / farming clothes’ to ‘rag bag’.
BUT – my wardrobe was literally bursting. I wasn’t throwing much away, but I was certainly still accumulating – mostly from hand-me-downs from friends and the clearance rack at Target.
Earlier this year a friend recommended I watch the film “The Minimalists” – the key message I got was the ‘less you have, the less you need’. And I took a serious look at my absurdly sized wardrobe. I do love clothes – I love creating interesting outfits full of colour – but I also realised that so many of the clothes I had didn’t make me feel good when I wore them. They were old, or daggy or didn’t fit my now-had-two-babies body. And there’s just too many of them.
So now there’s a quandary. How do I minimize whilst updating my wardrobe without creating a lump in landfill or adding to the demand of ‘fast fashion’?
I started sorting through and sending off to the op-shops or to friends. But ‘War On Waste’ made me realise that charity shops are drowning in clothes, more seem to come in than be purchased. They send a fair proportion of what comes in overseas, to mechanics rags, or landfill (which costs the charities) – the stuff they can’t sell.
The next few items I bought were more expensive, higher quality. But that alone really wasn’t going to solve my wardrobe – or Australias waste – issue.
Then that same friend who showed me ‘The Minimalists’ sent me an invite – to “Swap to You Drop”, a clothing swap party that she organised for a group of our friends, held at the local Playgroup (which many of us Mummy-folk are members of).
The idea was we each had to bring at least 6 items of clothing along to swap with the other ladies. So over 20 of us ransacked our cupboards and we ended up with a great evening out, a few nibbles and wines, no kids, and racks and racks full of clothes, shoes and jewellery that we could take our pick of!
At the end of the night, we each had bags stuffed full of ‘new’ clothes – it had cost none of us a cent, had cleaned out wardrobes and hadn’t put any demand on new resources nor created fashion waste to landfill. And we all want to do it again!
So inspired, the next morning I hit the local op-shops. We have to close the cycle – donating to the charity shops is one thing, but they need a market, so we have to buy from them too. A mere $30 later and I was the proud owner of a further 4 tops, a skirt, a jacket and two pairs of trousers.
So – yes, I achieved the goal of updating my wardrobe without feeding fast fashion waste, by getting all these ‘new’ pieces, all second-hand. But what about that minimising? I’ve progressed there too. My drawers actually close, and here’s all the spare coathangers I now have no clothes for.
And I have a new attitude towards my clothes.
Bring on the next clothing swap party!