September 10, 2013

RAC: What to do with Old Clothes

A sort of stunning picture

The zipper doesn't work.

There is a hole in the material.

There is a permanent stain down the front.

The cloth is all but worn through.

Two buttons are missing.

It happens. Clothes, just like everything, have an end date. Maybe not as soon as garment industries would like us to believe, but there comes a point when you need to say goodbye to a piece of clothing. For real.

I found a sweater like this. The poor thing has been with me for 10 years now. I received it in my freshman year of highschool and it has been a staple of my closet  ever since then. But after countless wearings and laundry loads, it has lost it's shape, its warmth, it's texture. It is old, raggidy and shiny around the collars. Even my higher tolerance with wear and tear can't support it- so I'm throwing it away.

Yep, throwing something away feels even stranger than giving it away. But often times the thrift store isn't the option with a piece of clothing too far past it's use. No matter how nice it would be to think that everything has value to someone else. If you wouldn't pick it up in a thrift store, don't assume someone else will.

So what to do?

First, harvest all the hardware. Snip buttons, take out zippers, unstitch trimmings- if there. If you sew, upcycle these items into other projects. If you don't, from personal experience I can assure you that zippers and buttons are a great find at a thrift store.

Second, if the material is 100% something and you have a compost bin, try slicing it up into strips and composting it. I've heard this from a few other sites- not sure how the dye would affect anything, but it's what the Victorians did with their materials.

Third, if neither of those apply, throw it away and don't feel guilty. Cloth still decomposes faster than plastic bags. (But this is another excellent reason to only buy natural fibers.)

What do you do with clothes that are too old to be donated?

1 comment:

  1. I've only had pants that were too worn to be donated... and realistically I would never find use for the zipper (if it still worked) or that single button so I have just thrown them away or burned them in our stove. I have a large chest in my room that was previously the family's storage for old clothing. If an item was worn out it went in the chest. When you needed a button, a zipper, a piece of fabric you looked in the chest... I cleaned it out a year ago to use for other storage, the scraps of clothing etc. that were left in there where in a chaos and most of them were too small or irregular to be of use for anything. So I threw the lot out! It felt liberating!