PSA: Donating your old clothes to charity doesn't make you a good person. Hell, donating NEW clothes doesn't make you a good person. Essentially, keep reading--

In the words of Elizabeth Cline, in her book Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion:
Most Americans are thoroughly convinced there is another person in their direct vicinity who truly needs and wants our unwanted clothes. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Charities long ago passed the point of being able to sell all of our wearable unwanted clothes.

In fact, donating clothes to charity is more destructive than you think. Here's why:

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Above: source

1. You'll feel justified buying more, new clothes | and we all know, as anti-capitalists and minimal wardrobe aficionados, that this is a big no-no. JooJoo Azad is centered around a limit of mindless material consumption and a detachment from emotionaldependence on consumer goods--particularly clothing, which we are taught to associate emotions and self-worth with. The only thing that will truly make a difference here is, yes, buying local and ethical yeah yeah, but even moreso: limiting spending on clothing altogether. When we're cleansing our wardrobes (which yeah, we have an app post for that) we shouldn't be using the new cleared out space as an opportunity to fill it back up with purchases. Essentially, if your intentions for donating clothing is to make more space for new buys, you're doing it wrong

2. You're a statistic | If the morals argument won't work, here are your numbers: 
According to the ethical fashion documentary The True Cost, in just the past 20 years Americans have increased their clothing consumption by 400%--taking us to about 11 million tons of textile waste each year produced by the United States alone. To put that in slight perspective, that's about the weight of 3 million adult elephants, if for some reason elephant weights are more relatable to you.
Long story short, 
it's too much. 
Far too much. 
Especially given that on average, textiles are largely not biodegradable and therefore can take up space in landfills across the globe for at least 200 years, according to TakePark

And how is this relevant to donating to charity? 
We treat second-hand clothing shops like glorified trash cans when donating old, holy, stained clothing, so why do we expect them to act like anything more?
In fact, according to Jackie King, the Director of the Secondhand Materials and Recycled Textiles Association, it is estimated that Goodwill, Salvation Army, and other similar companies only keep about 10% of what comes in. So essentially, donating your old clothing most likely is going to end up in a landfill. 

Pepe, Paolo Woods, Haiti clothing, Haiti photography, the true cost, the true cost documentary, ethical fashion
Above: Haitian in poverty wearing an old, distasteful American tshirt. Shirts such as these flood the local markets after they are thrown out or donated in the United States. / Paolo Woods.

3. It destroys the fabric (bad pun intended) of the local fashion and textile industries in Southern Africa | "donated" clothes that is not hung on the racks or thrown in the dumpsters of your corner Salvation Army are sent to various African countries. In mass. In fact, so much old American clothing is sent to foreign countries (primarily in Southern Africa) that they end up overflowing local markets, leaving small and local clothing businesses out of business or hanging by a lose thread.
(sorry these clothing puns are just too easy). 
Also here check out Pepe, a photo project by Haitian photographer Paolo Woods (see above).  



Sure, while donating clothes remains arguably "better" than sending them straight to the landfill without a chance of finding another temporary home, ultimately, the decision to purchase less clothes to begin with and re-working/re-using what you have is definitely more respectable (in our anti-capitalist, socially-conscious eyes, at least) than donating as an excuse to purchase new items to re-fill what you've "cleaned."

But we get it. (Sorta). It's understandable if you are getting rid of clothes to get a bit of extra cash, assuming that cash isn't being saved for buying the latest trends from fast-fashion companies, but ultimately it's important not to view donating clothes as a solution/excuse to consistent consumption. 

So, moving forward, how do we deal with old clothes? Don't fret. We put together a quick list of alternatives: 

1. Fix it | instead of throwing out or donating a shirt anytime a button falls out or pit stains develop, find a solution. (p.s. PopSugar has the secret recipe for cleaning pit stains!).

2. Clothing Swap | want to get rid of old clothes and put new life in your wardrobe? Get a group of friends together to cleanse their closets and bring over the excess. Bonus points if everyone has similar styles and sizes! 

3. Dress for Success | a beautiful international non-profit dedicated to providing women with professional attire, resources, and tools necessary to reach economic independence. Of course, they only accept good quality business/professional clothing, of course, but definitely a worthy cause to send those gently used blazers, button-ups, and slacks! 

4. Re-Create | this one requires a teensy bit more time and a whole lot more creativity. Another way to get rid of old clothes while keeping a wardrobe feeling fresh is through re-creating and altering. Stain won't come off the sleeve of your favorite white button-up? Tear 'em off. Not feeling your flair jeans anymore? Alter them. Bored of your old jean jacket? Add some sh*t to it! Breathing new life into old clothing saves you money and landfill space. (P.s. this would aslo be fun to do at your upcoming clothing swap party that I know you're now currently planning) 

5. Evaluate Your Life tbh | look at your life. look at your choices. why did you buy so much clothes!? Repeat with me--I will limit my consumption, I will limit my consumption...I will read Hoda's post on how to limit my consumption...





This post is part 7 of a series encouraging the transition to a minimal wardrobe--as a wardrobe that is physically minimal (not the style) in order to limit our consumption, detach ourselves from material possessions, and live more socially-conscious lives. 

To peep the rest of the series: { minimal wardrobe series }

Sorry for the static noise here the past month. August is officially our month of going back into consistency and regularity. Pinky promise. 

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Upcoming Events: 
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