Why is it that many thrift stores and consignment shops will only accept clothing that is currently in style? Is it because they want to make money?! They know that people generally don't buy out of style clothing. On the one hand, it is admirable that they are slowing the tide of clothing going to the landfills by the mere fact that they are selling secondhand clothing. On the other hand, are they enabling the fast fashion industry? What about all the perfectly good clothes that are not in style (and never were in style) , the basic, useful, functional clothes?
What happens to the basic, useful, functional clothes if the secondhand retailers don't want them? The majority winds up at the landfill. The thrift stores that do accept all clothing donations will likely sell the out of style and unsatisfactory clothing and shoes to textile recycling companies. These companies then sort the items and sell the usable clothes to foreign markets. The rest of the materials either go to making rags or go into the manufacture of new textiles. Some of these recyclers don't sort the clothes, they just wrap them into big bales and ship them to the buyers (domestic and foreign).
In addition to helping the environment, we would all save ourselves a lot of money if we wore clothes until they wear out. However, as intelligent beings we like a change of pace, we want something different, something new. A suggestion to accomplish this without discarding anything involves rotating your own clothes and then they will seem new to you again. Or if you must go shopping, incorporate the secondhand stores into your shopping expedition.
When the time comes to get rid of clothing, look for the charities that will responsibly dispose of the unwanted garments and shoes by way of the textile recyclers. In addition to the thrift stores, there are the donation containers in random parking lots that accept donations of clothing and shoes. Be careful with these since they sit out in the elements, the donations are more at risk for water damage which would necessitate them winding up at the landfill. Some retailers are starting to have clothing boxes right in their stores.
For more about the resale (secondhand) industry, I have found the following websites to be very informative:
- The Association of Resale Professionals (NARTS) - www.narts.org
- A Consumer Service of TGtbt.com - HowToConsign.com
Both of these websites provide a directory of resale shops and detailed information for consumers buying or selling secondhand goods.