I love the idea of spring cleaning. Back in Romania we frantically scrubbed every corner of the house, hauled heavy rugs outside to be aired, and spread generous amounts of lavender in closets and dresser drawers.
But I don’t remember throwing clothes away.
It’s true we had a more permanent relationship with our clothes, probably born out of necessity–communism has its share of problems, but consumerism isn’t one of them. Perhaps this is why the KonMari method never quite resonated for me. But for all you KonMari fans out there, take a moment to consider these seven facts before embarking on your next purging ceremony.
– Due to the popularity of Tidying Up With Marie Kondo, thrift shops and donation centers are having trouble keeping up. Treehugger reports that Goodwills in the D.C. area saw a sixty-
six percent increase over last year. Do you really want to add to their problem?
– Your well-intentioned donations may hurt the environment more than help it. Only 0.1 percent of the clothes we donate are recycled into new textile fibre. A large percentage of the rest end up in methane producing landfills or toxic gas emitting incinerators.
– Fashion trends have a way of coming back. Don’t throw your clothes away just because they are not trendy anymore. Remember, even fanny packs and mommy jeans have found their way back on the runway.
I get the appeal of Marie Kondo’s spark joy method. It’s simple to follow and validates our need for joy. But I’m inclined to take a less aggressive approach.
– I get the appeal of Marie Kondo’s spark joy method. It’s simple to follow and validates our need for joy. But I’m inclined to take a less aggressive approach. I assess my wardrobe at the beginning of each season. I hold on to pieces that fit my lifestyle and current trends, and I part with pieces that are damaged, that I’m not comfortable wearing, or no longer fit my body. The difference? I make sure I have the things I need, even if they don’t spark joy, so I avoid wasting more money. Also, I avoid feeling guilty about past spending.
– You’ve probably read stories about bloggers who make $29,000 selling their closet. I don’t know what they had in their closet, but recently a second-hand shop offered me less than fifteen percent of the market suggested retail price of some nearly new items.
– I don’t know about you, but an empty closet is just another excuse to go shopping. After that first dopamine rush caused by the newly organized closet I’d look to replace the things I got rid of.
If you want to save money, declutter your closet, and save the planet, shop with restraint. It might not be as easy as buying with impunity and purging, but it’s more cost-effective, less wasteful and better for the environment.
Posted by Mirela Gluck at 12:00 PM
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If you spent your weekend bingeing on Netflix’s Tidying Up with Marie Kondo, you’re in good company. The KonMari method of organizing and purging has struck a chord world over, garnering a huge following. But what’s to be done with all the clothes that don’t spark joy?
Hopefully you’ll choose to discard the unwanted clothing in a responsible way. That means not putting your clothes in garbage and choosing their next home carefully—or, as Gwyneth might say, consciously uncoupling with them.
If you’re doubting how important this is, here are some sobering statistics to convince you.
- Americans now buy five times the number of garments they bought in the nineteen-eighties, and that number is growing
- The United States produces fifteen billion pounds of textile waste a year
- The Council of Textile Recycling reports that only fifteen percent of those billions get recycled
- clothing, which does not disintegrate easily, makes up six percent of landfill waste
- until an item fully disintegrates, it produces toxins and disburses them into the atmosphere, to wit:
- Rubber-Boot Soles take fifty-eighty years to disintegrate
- Leather shoes take twenty-five to forty years
- Wool Clothing takes one to five years
Assuming I’ve done my job convincing you of recycling’s importance (I’ve done my job convincing you, right?) the next step is figuring out what to do with these items of clothing. Giving them as hand-me-downs to a friend or relative is always a good option. Upcycling them into new pieces of clothing, quilts, bunting, table clothes or artwork is a wonderful approach.
Donating them is also a great strategy, provided you educate yourself.
Logistics play a big part here. Not everyone has a car or frankly a parking lot or garage here, so convenience is important. While there are no curbside textile recycling programs in New York City, refashionNYC, a program launched by the Bloomberg administration in 2011, offers free donation bins to residential buildings. RefashionNYC works in collaboration with the NYC department of sanitation and the non-profit organization, Housing Works. I haven’t seen too many of those out in the wild, so if you know of any, please let me know.
Another non-profit organization, GrowNYC hosts daily Stop’N’Swap events throughout the city, and, in collaboration with the for-profit Wearable Collections, organizes drop-off opportunities at different Greenmarket locations.
Americans now buy five times the number of garments they bought in the nineteen-eighties
You’ll also want to research whatever organization you choose to donate to. We tend to assume that organizations that take these donations will sell them and donate the proceeds to charities, but it’s not that simple
Non-profit entities like Goodwill and the Salvation Army only sell in their stores twenty percent of the items received from donations. Another portion is sold through Goodwill outlets and auctions and what is left, about fifty percent, is sent to for-profit textile recycling organizations.
According to S.M.A.R.T., the organization that represents the interests of secondary materials and recycled textiles, only half of the items received are recycled. About thirty percent of them get cut into rags for industrial use, and twenty percent are processed into a soft fiber for filling furniture, home insulation and car sound-proofing. The destination of the other fifty percent isn’t well publicized. The uncomfortable truth is that at high costs to the environment they make their way across the ocean to East African or Eastern European countries to be sold for a profit, and in effect undermining those developing economies.
There’s a lot to consider when it comes to getting rid of unwanted clothes, and no quick answers. Thinking twice before making another purchase could be the best route to take. Shopping at sample sales is a great way to give clothes a second chance. Sharing this type of information with others will also help.
Further complicating the issue of recycling is that the government, non-profit and for-profit companies are all vying for a sliver of your unwanted clothes, so it’s important to research what the different companies do with your donated clothes.
Posted by Staff Writer at 10:20 AM
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