According to a new documentary film, The True Cost, we purchase 400% more clothing today than we did twenty years ago, largely because of the lower costs of fashion. But it may be may be that, as consumers, we could be our own worst enemies. According to the film, the average American tosses 82 pounds of textile waste each year, or 11 million tons of the stuff! For the most part, these textiles aren’t biodegradable; they sit in landfills for at least 200 years and release harmful gases. With the cost of trash going up, it’s time to look at other options.
Did you know you can sell your good, old clothes on Ebay—there’s money in name brands. And it’s a great way to shop, too.
The site yerdle.com is also a place to swap your old stuff for things you really need. Yerdle’s mission is “to reduce the number of new things we all have to buy by 25%.” Even that small amount will make a huge difference. Yerdle offers an ‘unshopping’ challenge. If, for 30 days, you
buy nothing new (except things you can’t reuse like food and gas), they’ll give you free shipping and other perks.
Also consider mending and reuse of what you have. The best pot holders I ever saw were made from old jean’s pockets. In Pie Town, you can buy aprons made of Blue Bird flour sacks—how cool is that! What about turning your long sleeve Tshirt into a cut-off top for summer? And using the sleeves as dust rags (you can fit your hand right into the sleeve).
When you buy, look for natural fibers such as cotton, wool and silk, and buy for durability—get a coat that will last a decade. Spend the money for a really great pair of jeans (Duluth Trading Company makes their reputation on rugged and USA made, and Patagonia will repair any item you buy from them! That’s a great service.)
Shop at the local thrift store to make you dollars go farther and get those ‘new to you’ clothes. Your dollars there do twice the good of helping others and saving clothes from landfills.
Finally, keep a rag bag for worn our clothing. You might even try making an old fashion rag rug, which is what we used to do with old clothes.