Keep Clothes out of the Landfill


I've been a long time advocate of donating clothing to charities.  I always throw in a couple of pieces that are still in great condition and highly fashionable, just hoping that some woman will find a score at the thrift shop.  I was reading National Geographic last night and came across a one page spread about where used clothing go.  It turns out that 75% of all used clothes donated in the US wind up being sold in Africa.  It is a multi million dollar industry that has put most of the African Textiles industry out of business.  The people there love to buy the used clothing because it is cheaper and more well made than the cheap Chinese made clothing that they can buy new.  

Like a lot of women I have a lot of clothes!  With the environment in the state it is in, I often wonder what will happen to the things I throw away.  Clothing is a huge burden on the waste system and winds up sitting in the landfill for hundreds of years after the time it is thrown away.  

It comes down to buying less clothing, and making the clothes you do buy last for as long as possible.  Another possible option is to recycle those clothing into other items. 

Here are some tips for what to do with old clothing to give them more life and prevent them from going to the landfill.

1.  Update last season's clothes and make them like new!  Mend tears with patches, use dyes to change a color, add appliques over stains.  Even the most outdated clothing can get a whole new lease on life with a few minor changes.  Youtube has tons of videos on restyling and upcycling clothing and there are some great used books on the subject as well.

2.  If you buy something and don't like the way it fits, alter it!  Add panels to pants that are too small or take them in if too big.  Shorten the hems of dresses to make them look modern, add lace and other embellishments if something is too plain.  You could even get into screen printing and print on your fashions.

3.  Find projects online that remake old clothing into new things.  There are even no sew projects for old t shirts, baskets and rugs that can be woven and braided from old clothes.  Make a quilt with old t shirts and it will become an heirloom.  

Whether you upcycle, donate or alter your clothing; making an effort to be intentional with your purchasing power can make a huge difference!  The things we buy will eventually wind up in the landfill so it takes a commitment to prolong the life of those items.  Creating heirlooms from items that might just be cast aside is a fun way to honor the abundance in your life!  

SewingKathryn Sturges