Tuesday, January 24, 2012

What Happens to Our Cast Off Clothing?

A friend sent me this great article and I wanted to share it with you. Please do take time to read it.

Ever wonder what happens to your clothes when you just have to let them go? Maybe you were kind enough to spare them from ending up in a landfill by donating them to a thrift store for a tax credit; maybe you were even clever enough to “new-life” them into cut offs, a mini-skirt or something else relatively simple to make.
There are many ways to keep our clothes from contributing to landfills and pollution, and according to Dr. Jana Hawley, whose focus is on finding solutions to textile waste in fashion, “Our clothing are 100% recyclable.” So why then, according to SMART, a textile recycling organization that partners with Goodwill and The Salvation Army, do roughly 75% of our discarded clothes get put in the trash and end up in landfills?
Clothing has an enormous, toxic, environmental footprint, one that gets bigger when it is unnecessarily wasted and not given the opportunity to live up to its fullest capacity through multiple lives, multiple owners or textile recycling.
While we may never consider our clothes after we’ve discarded them, our cast-offs go on exciting adventures around the globe. Thrift stores are simply the first of many depositing and sorting grounds. Which part of the world they land in really depends on what shape and quality they are in when they leave your hands.
When your clothes arrive at the thrift store they get sorted, and provided they’re not terribly damaged, they are put on the racks. The premium grade used clothing has several possible fates in the drop-off store, one of which is purchase for resale at international vintage shops.
Vintage store owners around the world have been mining American thrift stores for cheap vintage, only to resell our cast offs back to us at premium vintage prices. Americans in particular get rid of some of the nicest digs in the world. In Paris you’d never find designer vintage on sale anywhere outside a pricey vintage shop. But here in the States, mint condition, vintage Gucci dresses on Salvation Army racks sell for $19.99. It’s no wonder that the world comes here for it’s vintage. At $5-$10 a pair, beat up old Levi’s might collect over $500 by a vintage dealer in Japan. And the hat your grandmother painstakingly hand knit you could easily end up in a Swedish or Dutch vintage boutique.
“We get all of our vintage from the States. The store owners take a 4-6 week long summer vacation in the U.S. visiting the same favorite routes to thrift stores year after year. Within a few weeks, they’ve more or less made the annual store inventory,” says an employee from Zipper, a vintage shop in Amsterdam.
Of course, all of this can be found on thrift store floor racks, where meticulous and discerning shoppers have the opportunity to snatch up the premium second hand at thrift store prices before they reach the vintage dealers provided they are willing to dig through racks.
Sometimes, this pursuit can seem more like archaeology than shopping, sifting through cross sections of society’s discarded duds to find the rare diamonds in the rough.

Please continue to read: http://ecosalon.com/ecosalon-investigates-what-happens-to-our-cast-off-clothing/
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