Author Topic: Dead White Man's Clothes: The Environmental Disaster Fuelled by Used Clothes  (Read 3903 times)

Alchemisst

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I just watched this and it's quite alarming the amount of clothes that end up in the ocean, and that's just one area. They mentioned it's the big fashion companies who are the problem as they overproduce by 60% as part of their business model.

What are some ways to try and avoid this? Buy only from sustainable companies?

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=bB3kuuBPVys

Wolfpack Mustachian

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I very rarely buy new clothes except for underwear and shoes. I might buy some more "buy it for life" things like high-quality socks that won't get holes in them, which I will wear for years. Thrift shopping is totally the way to go :-)!

draco44

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How to clothe ourselves in a sustainable manner and reducing waste on a global scale is indeed an important and in many ways complicated issue. It's a topic I do a lot of thinking about, and is why I am currently on a year-long buy no new clothes challenge (still going strong since I started in February!) Here are some of my top-line thoughts:

1. The most sustainable item of clothing is one you already own. Use up what you have before buying new (or new-to-you) clothing.
2. Buy less. There is simply too much clothing in the world today, much of it of poor quality.
3. Repair. Extend the life of what you already own by sewing back on buttons that fall off and making other repairs as needed. Or pay a tailor to do it. I do small fixes myself (dropped hem, buttons) and am happy to drop cash at tailors or cobblers to do more complex repairs, like re-soleing a shoe or replacing the lining of a coat.
3. Dispose responsibly. If you have an item of clothing that still has life left in it, selling it or consigning it or giving it directly to another individual, like via Buy Nothing or a clothing swap, will maximize the chance that someone else will use the garment. This is controversial in some circles, but I consider donating clothing to thrift shops to be a second choice when I am short on time. Thrift shops often have more clothing donations than they can handle and a lot of good stuff ends up being shunted to the global textile resale/recycling circuit (ala Dead White Man's Clothes) or being landfilled. Also, don't give garbage clothes to thrift stores. Repurpose super worn clothing as rags or sewing project material, donate old linens to animal shelters, and put anything that's left in textile recycling bins.
4. When looking to obtain new clothing, look first to buy secondhand. Lots of nice things can be found in thrift stores or online at places like Poshmark and eBay.
5. If you do buy retail, try to support ethical and sustainable brands, and/or individual artists. Put your money towards supporting businesses that share your values. Look here for some brand ideas: https://mygreencloset.com/. Also support businesses investing in technologies to do true garment-to-garment recycling, like https://rifo-lab.com/. This type of effort is still relatively rare.
6. Educate yourself on what is meant by ethical and/or sustainable clothing so that you can spot greenwashing in advertising. Is that "recycled material" pre- or post-consumer? What percent of the garment is made from that recycled material? Is that fabric made from a fiber that is compostable/biodegradable? Does the company post regular financial statements, and disclose the salary of its employees (top marks to Able on this - https://www.livefashionable.com). Does the company have a takeback program for recycling or reselling its own used products? Do they craft new products from scraps of old product too worn to resell? Did the manufacturer take steps to reduce water consumption during production? Different brands will have different strengths, but you want to be sure you understand what you are buying.
7. Buy quality and try to stay away from buying trendy clothes that you won't want to wear for a long time. Note that your style is your own and no fashion blogger can define what will be a timeless item for YOU.
8. Maintain your clothing well: Over-washing and machine drying wears clothing out faster. Rewear garments between washes when feasible and try line drying or drying using a collapsible folding rack.
« Last Edit: August 14, 2021, 07:51:59 PM by draco44 »

Malcat

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Wear primarily merino wool.
It's biodegradable, can be worn many times between washes, and regulates body temperature and moisture, so one piece can be comfortable in many climate situations.

I used to have a ton of clothes until I switched to a small merino wool capsule wardrobe. I've worn the same few tops almost every day for years, and they still look new.

Wolfpack Mustachian

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How to clothe ourselves in a sustainable manner and reducing waste on a global scale is indeed an important and in many ways complicated issue. It's a topic I do a lot of thinking about, and is why I am currently on a year-long buy no new clothes challenge (still going strong since I started in February!) Here are some of my top-line thoughts:

1. The most sustainable item of clothing is one you already own. Use up what you have before buying new (or new-to-you) clothing.
2. Buy less. There is simply too much clothing in the world today, much of it of poor quality.
3. Repair. Extend the life of what you already own by sewing back on buttons that fall off and making other repairs as needed. Or pay a tailor to do it. I do small fixes myself (dropped hem, buttons) and am happy to drop cash at tailors or cobblers to do more complex repairs, like re-soleing a shoe or replacing the lining of a coat.
3. Dispose responsibly. If you have an item of clothing that still has life left in it, selling it or consigning it or giving it directly to another individual, like via Buy Nothing or a clothing swap, will maximize the chance that someone else will use the garment. This is controversial in some circles, but I consider donating clothing to thrift shops to be a second choice when I am short on time. Thrift shops often have more clothing donations than they can handle and a lot of good stuff ends up being shunted to the global textile resale/recycling circuit (ala Dead White Man's Clothes) or being landfilled. Also, don't give garbage clothes to thrift stores. Repurpose super worn clothing as rags or sewing project material, donate old linens to animal shelters, and put anything that's left in textile recycling bins.
4. When looking to obtain new clothing, look first to buy secondhand. Lots of nice things can be found in thrift stores or online at places like Poshmark and eBay.
5. If you do buy retail, try to support ethical and sustainable brands, and/or individual artists. Put your money towards supporting businesses that share your values. Look here for some brand ideas: https://mygreencloset.com/. Also support businesses investing in technologies to do true garment-to-garment recycling, like https://rifo-lab.com/. This type of effort is still relatively rare.
6. Educate yourself on what is meant by ethical and/or sustainable clothing so that you can spot greenwashing in advertising. Is that "recycled material" pre- or post-consumer? What percent of the garment is made from that recycled material? Is that fabric made from a fiber that is compostable/biodegradable? Does the company post regular financial statements, and disclose the salary of its employees (top marks to Able on this - https://www.livefashionable.com). Does the company have a takeback program for recycling or reselling its own used products? Do they craft new products from scraps of old product too worn to resell? Did the manufacturer take steps to reduce water consumption during production? Different brands will have different strengths, but you want to be sure you understand what you are buying.
7. Buy quality and try to stay away from buying trendy clothes that you won't want to wear for a long time. Note that your style is your own and no fashion blogger can define what will be a timeless item for YOU.
8. Maintain your clothing well: Over-washing and machine drying wears clothing out faster. Rewear garments between washes when feasible and try line drying or drying using a collapsible folding rack.

I don't get the fascination with washing all clothes every time you wear them. Pants are the best example if you are in an office environment. They don't get sweaty or dirty unless you spill some food on them - they can easily be worn more than one day. I seriously wonder, do people wash their pajamas every time they wear them? I would imagine many don't. If not them, why would you do it with a lot of items you wear that aren't sweaty or dirty. If people do wash that religiously, then how on earth do you get all of your laundry done?

Malcat

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I don't get the fascination with washing all clothes every time you wear them. Pants are the best example if you are in an office environment. They don't get sweaty or dirty unless you spill some food on them - they can easily be worn more than one day. I seriously wonder, do people wash their pajamas every time they wear them? I would imagine many don't. If not them, why would you do it with a lot of items you wear that aren't sweaty or dirty. If people do wash that religiously, then how on earth do you get all of your laundry done?

Do a lot of people wash everything they wear after one use?
Is this really a common thing?

I've lived with a lot of different people and I've never met anyone who didn't develop little piles of worn clothes that weren't ready for the wash, usually piled up on a chair in their bedroom.

If people really do wash everything just because it's touched their body for some length of time, what do they do about bed sheets and towels??

Dicey

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I very rarely buy new clothes except for underwear and shoes. I might buy some more "buy it for life" things like high-quality socks that won't get holes in them, which I will wear for years. Thrift shopping is totally the way to go :-)!
Even better, volunteer at one! I've purchased nothing new since I started working at my favorite thrift store.

The shoes I wear every day come in four colors. I buy them very lightly used on eBay. I keep a pair of each color in reserve, so I never have to buy new. I rotate them so they last longer. When I my hiking boots finally fell apart, I found two pair at REI in their "Garage Sale" section! This is how each store gets rid of things that are returned in slightly worn condition. I should be set for another decade of hiking.

I also buy most of my gifts at the thrift shop. This year, I am making dryer balls for my holiday gifting. I deconstruct wool sweaters that are stained or have moth holes, wind the yarn into balls, then shrink them. The staff at the shop know I do this,* so they save garments for me. I pay a quarter for each. This keeps them out of the landfill. Hopefully, it will also quietly cut down on my friends use of dryer sheets. I also save the buttons from cardigans and donate them back to the shop for resale.

*Since some of them will be recipients of these gifts, they just know I'm using them for a textile project.

Related: My ongoing job at the shop is managing supplies. I am known as The Bag Lady, which secretly delights my inner bag lady, aka IBL. We collect all the bags and packing materials that come in with donations. I refold and sort them so they can be used for our customer's purchases, which makes me happy. My community has banned free single use plastic bags, (which is not without repercussions, but it's a small step in the right direction). I notice that the heavier plastic bags now say "This bag can be used up to 125 times", which really pisses me off. Talk about bullshit virtue signalling! Who actually conducted a field study to see how long they last? Fucking lies, designed to make consumers feel better as they destroy the environment. It makes me happy when customers say they don't need a bag as they make their purchases. This means we frequently have more bags than we need. I give them away to teachers and to people who conduct Estate Sales.

Also related: in my area, there's a place that sells things that are returned from warehouse stores like Costco. That's my secret source of DH's socks and other random things like CFLs L.ED light bulbs.. I'm playing a game currently. He will be retiring soon and I have vowed to buy no more work socks. I unravelled one dead sock and use that yarn to repair the others. I enrolled him in the 2021 cohort and I think I can win this challenge. I use a wooden "egg" to darn the socks. I found at the thrift store, naturally.
« Last Edit: August 15, 2021, 09:01:39 AM by Dicey »

ender

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Wear primarily merino wool.
It's biodegradable, can be worn many times between washes, and regulates body temperature and moisture, so one piece can be comfortable in many climate situations.

I used to have a ton of clothes until I switched to a small merino wool capsule wardrobe. I've worn the same few tops almost every day for years, and they still look new.

Where do you buy your merino wool stuff?

I had a merino wool undershirt some years ago and loved it immensely. I've never thought about using it for other things like normal shirts/etc. But.. it was so comfortable!

Botany Bae

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Do a lot of people wash everything they wear after one use?
Is this really a common thing?

I've lived with a lot of different people and I've never met anyone who didn't develop little piles of worn clothes that weren't ready for the wash, usually piled up on a chair in their bedroom.

If people really do wash everything just because it's touched their body for some length of time, what do they do about bed sheets and towels??

If they are like my mother then bath towels get washed after one use, kitchen towels are changed out after every meal, clothing is changed two or more times a day and washed, sheets are washed twice a week, and pajamas are worn once and washed. She is in no other way a germaphobe, just addicted to her washer, dryer, and iron. It's not empty nest boredom, she's done this -- and complained about it --since I was a kid. 

Dicey

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Do a lot of people wash everything they wear after one use?
Is this really a common thing?

I've lived with a lot of different people and I've never met anyone who didn't develop little piles of worn clothes that weren't ready for the wash, usually piled up on a chair in their bedroom.

If people really do wash everything just because it's touched their body for some length of time, what do they do about bed sheets and towels??

If they are like my mother then bath towels get washed after one use, kitchen towels are changed out after every meal, clothing is changed two or more times a day and washed, sheets are washed twice a week, and pajamas are worn once and washed. She is in no other way a germaphobe, just addicted to her washer, dryer, and iron. It's not empty nest boredom, she's done this -- and complained about it --since I was a kid.
Wow.

DaMa

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I love the idea of giving dryer balls for gifts.  I'm going to check out my local thrift stores for wool sweaters.

I also want to know where to get merino wool clothes.  My wardrobe is mostly cotton.  I rarely buy new items.   I'm going to a wedding in October, and I plan to wear the same dress I've worn to almost every dressy event since I bought it in 2015.  That's 1 or 2 times a year, and includes 4 other family weddings.  I considered getting something new, but it's very flattering and still in good shape.  Why go through the torture of shopping?  I hate shopping.

Shopping is my mother's leisure activity.  She routinely donates clothes with tags still on them.

Malcat

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Wear primarily merino wool.
It's biodegradable, can be worn many times between washes, and regulates body temperature and moisture, so one piece can be comfortable in many climate situations.

I used to have a ton of clothes until I switched to a small merino wool capsule wardrobe. I've worn the same few tops almost every day for years, and they still look new.

Where do you buy your merino wool stuff?

I had a merino wool undershirt some years ago and loved it immensely. I've never thought about using it for other things like normal shirts/etc. But.. it was so comfortable!

Yeah, you can buy just about anything in merino wool that you would otherwise make with cotton. So an enormous range beyond just base layers.

I have a lot from Ice Breaker, but that's mostly because I'm willing to pay a premium for their style. Otherwise Costco here has great merino wool for men, and I get my stuff from a French sportswear company called Decathlon, which I don't think exists in the US.

But even just buying the Ice Breaker stuff, even though it's nausea-inducing to spend $130 on a t-shirt, it starts feeling pretty reasonable after the 7th year of wearing it every second day and it still looking brand new.

I literally wear the same two t-shirts for half the year and then the same two long sleeve shirts for the rest of the year. Then I have 4 zip-up tops to add as layers when needed, which is excessive, I lived with only two of them for several years, but bought two really nice ones as a gift to myself for a huge achievement last year.

Morning Glory

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Do a lot of people wash everything they wear after one use?
Is this really a common thing?

I've lived with a lot of different people and I've never met anyone who didn't develop little piles of worn clothes that weren't ready for the wash, usually piled up on a chair in their bedroom.

If people really do wash everything just because it's touched their body for some length of time, what do they do about bed sheets and towels??

If they are like my mother then bath towels get washed after one use, kitchen towels are changed out after every meal, clothing is changed two or more times a day and washed, sheets are washed twice a week, and pajamas are worn once and washed. She is in no other way a germaphobe, just addicted to her washer, dryer, and iron. It's not empty nest boredom, she's done this -- and complained about it --since I was a kid.

I could see how a person with psoriasis or some other skin condition might need to do this.  I wonder if someone in her family had a real need, then she grew up thinking everyone did that.

My grandma smoked and had to wash the walls because of the tobacco stains, so for a long time my mom washed walls because she thought everyone had to, even though nobody smoked in our house.


Malcat

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Do a lot of people wash everything they wear after one use?
Is this really a common thing?

I've lived with a lot of different people and I've never met anyone who didn't develop little piles of worn clothes that weren't ready for the wash, usually piled up on a chair in their bedroom.

If people really do wash everything just because it's touched their body for some length of time, what do they do about bed sheets and towels??

If they are like my mother then bath towels get washed after one use, kitchen towels are changed out after every meal, clothing is changed two or more times a day and washed, sheets are washed twice a week, and pajamas are worn once and washed. She is in no other way a germaphobe, just addicted to her washer, dryer, and iron. It's not empty nest boredom, she's done this -- and complained about it --since I was a kid.

That's intense.
Have you ever asked her why she does this?

Wolfpack Mustachian

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I don't get the fascination with washing all clothes every time you wear them. Pants are the best example if you are in an office environment. They don't get sweaty or dirty unless you spill some food on them - they can easily be worn more than one day. I seriously wonder, do people wash their pajamas every time they wear them? I would imagine many don't. If not them, why would you do it with a lot of items you wear that aren't sweaty or dirty. If people do wash that religiously, then how on earth do you get all of your laundry done?

Do a lot of people wash everything they wear after one use?
Is this really a common thing?

I've lived with a lot of different people and I've never met anyone who didn't develop little piles of worn clothes that weren't ready for the wash, usually piled up on a chair in their bedroom.

If people really do wash everything just because it's touched their body for some length of time, what do they do about bed sheets and towels??

I am not sure how common it is. I don't usually talk about this particular topic with people, but I do know, off the top of my head, two friends who would fall into the wash everything every time category. I know several more that would look at me oddly for wearing the same pair of dress pants 3-4 days out of the week in winter when I don't sweat in them at all.

former player

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I used to work in an area that in summer had constant crocodiles of school children doing the sights.  I could tell the American children from across the (busy with traffic) street without even looking because of the smell of detergent.

Wolfpack Mustachian

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I used to work in an area that in summer had constant crocodiles of school children doing the sights.  I could tell the American children from across the (busy with traffic) street without even looking because of the smell of detergent.

Interesting. Do you know anyone in the wash every day club where you're at?

charis

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I wear office clothes many, many times without washing unless they get stained. But my children generally need a clean outfit change everyday because they are very active, sweaty, and kind of grimy by the end of the day. It's all thrift, consignment, or hand me downs. If I can find unworn or lightly used kids footwear there, I buy it but usually buy one or two new pairs per year.

tawyer

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I get my stuff from a French sportswear company called Decathlon, which I don't think exists in the US.
Having loved it in France, I am delighted to share with you that Decathlon entered the US in 2019. Would you describe it as a budget REI or a high quality big 5?

Malcat

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I get my stuff from a French sportswear company called Decathlon, which I don't think exists in the US.
Having loved it in France, I am delighted to share with you that Decathlon entered the US in 2019. Would you describe it as a budget REI or a high quality big 5?

I have no clue what these words mean.

MicroRN

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Do a lot of people wash everything they wear after one use?
Is this really a common thing?

I've lived with a lot of different people and I've never met anyone who didn't develop little piles of worn clothes that weren't ready for the wash, usually piled up on a chair in their bedroom.

If people really do wash everything just because it's touched their body for some length of time, what do they do about bed sheets and towels??

I just think it depends on what you wear & how dirty it gets.  I don't wash clothes solely based on time worn, but if they seem dirty or smelly. When I did office work, I normally wore my dressy pants 2-3 times between washes, and just washed undergarments & shirts daily.   

These days, I usually go through 2-3 outfits a day, which sounds like a lot, but they get truly dirty.  3 times a week, I get up in the morning & work out - sweaty gym stuff goes into the wash.  Then, I wear scrubs to work, and those must be washed daily.  When I get home, I change into barn clothes or riding breeches & go do outside work, ride horses, clean stalls, etc.  When I come back in, my clothes are generally covered in sweat, mud, manure, horse hair, or other gross stuff, and also go into the wash.  Towels we use for a few days at a time and wash if they start to smell musty, we change sheets about once a week.  I tend to feel the sheets stay fairly clean because we shower right before bed. 

Malcat

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Do a lot of people wash everything they wear after one use?
Is this really a common thing?

I've lived with a lot of different people and I've never met anyone who didn't develop little piles of worn clothes that weren't ready for the wash, usually piled up on a chair in their bedroom.

If people really do wash everything just because it's touched their body for some length of time, what do they do about bed sheets and towels??

I just think it depends on what you wear & how dirty it gets.  I don't wash clothes solely based on time worn, but if they seem dirty or smelly. When I did office work, I normally wore my dressy pants 2-3 times between washes, and just washed undergarments & shirts daily.   

These days, I usually go through 2-3 outfits a day, which sounds like a lot, but they get truly dirty.  3 times a week, I get up in the morning & work out - sweaty gym stuff goes into the wash.  Then, I wear scrubs to work, and those must be washed daily.  When I get home, I change into barn clothes or riding breeches & go do outside work, ride horses, clean stalls, etc.  When I come back in, my clothes are generally covered in sweat, mud, manure, horse hair, or other gross stuff, and also go into the wash.  Towels we use for a few days at a time and wash if they start to smell musty, we change sheets about once a week.  I tend to feel the sheets stay fairly clean because we shower right before bed.

Oh, I get that there are reasons to wash clothes after one wear when they get dirty, I was also a medical professional who had to wash my work clothes daily.

However, my question is is there are really people who *always* wash their clothes after one wear, regardless of need.

Cranky

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I am deeply impressed by people who get multiple wearings from their clothes. I’m usually grubby by 9 AM - cooking, gardening, painting, housework…

Wolfpack Mustachian

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Do a lot of people wash everything they wear after one use?
Is this really a common thing?

I've lived with a lot of different people and I've never met anyone who didn't develop little piles of worn clothes that weren't ready for the wash, usually piled up on a chair in their bedroom.

If people really do wash everything just because it's touched their body for some length of time, what do they do about bed sheets and towels??

I just think it depends on what you wear & how dirty it gets.  I don't wash clothes solely based on time worn, but if they seem dirty or smelly. When I did office work, I normally wore my dressy pants 2-3 times between washes, and just washed undergarments & shirts daily.   

These days, I usually go through 2-3 outfits a day, which sounds like a lot, but they get truly dirty.  3 times a week, I get up in the morning & work out - sweaty gym stuff goes into the wash.  Then, I wear scrubs to work, and those must be washed daily.  When I get home, I change into barn clothes or riding breeches & go do outside work, ride horses, clean stalls, etc.  When I come back in, my clothes are generally covered in sweat, mud, manure, horse hair, or other gross stuff, and also go into the wash.  Towels we use for a few days at a time and wash if they start to smell musty, we change sheets about once a week.  I tend to feel the sheets stay fairly clean because we shower right before bed.

Oh, I get that there are reasons to wash clothes after one wear when they get dirty, I was also a medical professional who had to wash my work clothes daily.

However, my question is is there are really people who *always* wash their clothes after one wear, regardless of need.

Yes, but those people are also the kind of people that take a shower after they take a bath to wash off what they cleaned off of themselves in the bath but then "laid in" while they took their bath (well, at least one person I know fits this).

halftimer

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I saw the Dead White Man's Clothes piece a few weeks ago when it was shared by my local textile recycler. This particular company gets all the leftovers from nearby thrift stores and boutique manufacturers and then sorts, repairs, and keeps all the materials local with zero export. I really like the business model - whatever is in wearable condition goes into heavy 2 cubic foot boxes sorted by size and anything that hasn't been sorted yet or doesn't fit categories is out for people to buy by the pound. Items beyond repair get made into rug weaving kits, floor stool kits (and filled with shredded washed textiles), and knitted items are sold as-is or in big bags by color for knitters or crafters to 'frog' (unravel) for their own projects.

I bought 2 of their clothing boxes in a buy one get one sale, and in total I received 40+ clothing items in each box for $20 ($10 per box at the sale price). I found 10 items that fit perfectly, and another dozen that I like that don't fit me but that I can remake or resell. The remaining items will all be accepted back at the warehouse plus whatever else I can fit in the boxes if I choose to donate some more items.

tawyer

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I get my stuff from a French sportswear company called Decathlon, which I don't think exists in the US.
Having loved it in France, I am delighted to share with you that Decathlon entered the US in 2019. Would you describe it as a budget REI or a high quality big 5?

I have no clue what these words mean.
Good to know, thanks.

Malcat

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I get my stuff from a French sportswear company called Decathlon, which I don't think exists in the US.
Having loved it in France, I am delighted to share with you that Decathlon entered the US in 2019. Would you describe it as a budget REI or a high quality big 5?

I have no clue what these words mean.
Good to know, thanks.

???

Moonwaves

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I get my stuff from a French sportswear company called Decathlon, which I don't think exists in the US.
Having loved it in France, I am delighted to share with you that Decathlon entered the US in 2019. Would you describe it as a budget REI or a high quality big 5?

I have no clue what these words mean.
Good to know, thanks.

???
REI sells outdoor/sports gear. I was assuming Big 5 is similar. Tawyer is trying to figure out what Decathlon is like in comparison to those two.

Malcat

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I get my stuff from a French sportswear company called Decathlon, which I don't think exists in the US.
Having loved it in France, I am delighted to share with you that Decathlon entered the US in 2019. Would you describe it as a budget REI or a high quality big 5?

I have no clue what these words mean.
Good to know, thanks.

???
REI sells outdoor/sports gear. I was assuming Big 5 is similar. Tawyer is trying to figure out what Decathlon is like in comparison to those two.

Ah, thank you. I thought maybe there were 5 large discount sporting retail chains in the US or something.

Dicey

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Related thought: If you donate clothing to local thrift shops, it stays where you donate it. The big operations (GW, SA) tend to centralize and redistribute, which has an added environmental impact. You can help further by making sure what you donate is clean. Most places don't have laundry facilities, so something that cpukd be washed gets ragged instead.

You can help assure that the items you donate will find new homes by donating in season. Storage space is at a premium in every thrift operation and holding inventory is expensive. Donating out of season increases the chances of your items being ragged. My MIL passed away in June. I donated all of her summer things and am saving the winter items until it's cooler.

And thank you, @halftime, I've been unraveling/"frogging" wool sweaters to make dryer balls for gifts (shhhh). I did not know there was an actual term for deconstructing knitted items. At the thrift where I volunteer, they save anything wool that's stained, has holes or is hideous for me. I pay a quarter per piece, which is our standard price for things that aren't good enough to sell, but too good to rag. BTW, all of our ragging goes to the Salvation Army. I wonder if this is who runs the box program you describe.

NextTime

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I haven't had to go to work since the pandemic began, but prior to that:

Work pants, jeans, and work shirts only get washed when they get something on them (or smell, but that is rare).
Workout pants and shorts get washed when they smell.
Undershirts, workout shirts, underwear, and socks get washed after one wear.

Except for sweatshirts, the kids clothes are pretty much all washed after one use.  They are pretty active and messy.

Imma

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Maybe I'm an exceptionally dirty/messy person but I never really get more than two wears out of office clothes. They get pretty sweaty because I sweat while going to and from work and I'm walking up and down the stairs and through the halls all the time (my office is 3d floor last office at the end of the corridor so lots of walking). Plus I get food stains quite often. I always try to get small stains out without washing but it doesn't always work. Skirts stay clean longer than trousers in my experience. Many of my work clothes need to be ironed so even just for that reason I try to avoid washing them .... I know there are materials that don't require ironing but those are 1. Usually only available in men's clothing, not women's and 2. Usually less sustainable fabrics. From a pure environmental aspect, European organic wool and linen are best, but wool costs a fortune and linen needs to be ironed.

At home during winter I also wear wool a lot. I have thin Merino leggings that I wear with hand-knitted woolen socks. I have two pairs of each and have had them for years. Then I wear any comfortable dress or skirt on top. Almost all of those are hand me downs from a friend and my sister.

Decathlon is like H&M for sportswear and sportsgear. The quality is comparable too: like with H&M, some of the most sturdy and some of the least sturdy items I've owned are from there. I literally still own H&M items from highschool and I'm in my 30s but I've gotten loads of H&M's hand me downs with tags that didn't survive 5 washes. My Decathlon winter hiking shoes were €40 5 years ago and they've been warm and comfortable for years (but I'm not a true hiker, I wear them when it snows) but I've bought some bike parts that I couldn't get anywhere else and they only lasted a couple of weeks.

halftimer

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And thank you, @halftime, I've been unraveling/"frogging" wool sweaters to make dryer balls for gifts (shhhh). I did not know there was an actual term for deconstructing knitted items. At the thrift where I volunteer, they save anything wool that's stained, has holes or is hideous for me. I pay a quarter per piece, which is our standard price for things that aren't good enough to sell, but too good to rag. BTW, all of our ragging goes to the Salvation Army. I wonder if this is who runs the box program you describe.

You're welcome @Dicey, I definitely had fun learning the frogging term too. Salvation Army does not run the box program, it's an independent local and their items are from a variety of sources but I don't think from any of the big 3 in town.

Great tip about donating in season too. I often forget that but I can easily store a few items until they are in season and do my part.

Villanelle

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Related thought: If you donate clothing to local thrift shops, it stays where you donate it. The big operations (GW, SA) tend to centralize and redistribute, which has an added environmental impact. You can help further by making sure what you donate is clean. Most places don't have laundry facilities, so something that cpukd be washed gets ragged instead.

You can help assure that the items you donate will find new homes by donating in season. Storage space is at a premium in every thrift operation and holding inventory is expensive. Donating out of season increases the chances of your items being ragged. My MIL passed away in June. I donated all of her summer things and am saving the winter items until it's cooler.

And thank you, @halftime, I've been unraveling/"frogging" wool sweaters to make dryer balls for gifts (shhhh). I did not know there was an actual term for deconstructing knitted items. At the thrift where I volunteer, they save anything wool that's stained, has holes or is hideous for me. I pay a quarter per piece, which is our standard price for things that aren't good enough to sell, but too good to rag. BTW, all of our ragging goes to the Salvation Army. I wonder if this is who runs the box program you describe.

@Dicey , I'd love to hear more about your dryer ball project.  How do you wind and secure the strands of wool so they stay balled?  Any other tips or directions for this project?  And about how many sweaters-worth does it take to make one ball?  (I know it wouldn't be just sweaters, but that seems like a reasonably measurement.)  This project seems like something I could start now and presumably have enough for some holiday gifts. 

Dicey

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Related thought: If you donate clothing to local thrift shops, it stays where you donate it. The big operations (GW, SA) tend to centralize and redistribute, which has an added environmental impact. You can help further by making sure what you donate is clean. Most places don't have laundry facilities, so something that cpukd be washed gets ragged instead.

You can help assure that the items you donate will find new homes by donating in season. Storage space is at a premium in every thrift operation and holding inventory is expensive. Donating out of season increases the chances of your items being ragged. My MIL passed away in June. I donated all of her summer things and am saving the winter items until it's cooler.

And thank you, @halftime, I've been unraveling/"frogging" wool sweaters to make dryer balls for gifts (shhhh). I did not know there was an actual term for deconstructing knitted items. At the thrift where I volunteer, they save anything wool that's stained, has holes or is hideous for me. I pay a quarter per piece, which is our standard price for things that aren't good enough to sell, but too good to rag. BTW, all of our ragging goes to the Salvation Army. I wonder if this is who runs the box program you describe.

@Dicey , I'd love to hear more about your dryer ball project.  How do you wind and secure the strands of wool so they stay balled?  Any other tips or directions for this project?  And about how many sweaters-worth does it take to make one ball?  (I know it wouldn't be just sweaters, but that seems like a reasonably measurement.)  This project seems like something I could start now and presumably have enough for some holiday gifts.
Generally, one rolls the balls, stuffs them in old nylon stockings  and ties each one off, then boils them or washes them in hot water five times to shrink the wool and voila, they're dryer balls. That's what I'm told, anyway. I'm still at the making balls of wool stage. I've gotten quite adept at disassembling wool garments and figuring out which types are most efficient to unravel. I finish them by using a crochet hook to bury the end of the thread within the ball. I now have a lovely thrifted basket full of yarn balls, but that's as far as I've learned. I have a big canning pot I'm going to use for the boil method, because I live in drought country and I figure I can re-use the boiled water for multiple batches. Alas, it's too damn hot now to do any of that, so I keep winding balls.

If you know what "Fully Fashioned" means, you can skip this next paragraph:

The easiest garments to deconstruct are those knitted into the shape they will take, i.e. the knitter fashions the sleeves, the front and the back to their desired size and shape, then joins them together. Look for the distinctive markings at the top of the sleeves. Garments that are cut and sewn together are not what you want. They don't unravel (or "frog") into continuous strands. Total pain in the ass and not worth the time.

Avoid boiled wool, because it's already been shrunk. Likewise for anything that's unwearable because it's taken an accidental trip through the dryer. Oh, and really fuzzy sweaters get lint everywhere. I work them on my front porch with a mask on. I'm sure my neighbors think I'm nuts. Finally, medium denier seems to be the sweet spot. Too fine and rolling a single ball takes forever. I've made them of varying sizes, from about 40 to 65 grams. I use a scale to make sure I have three of the same size/color (to make sets) and don't worry much beyond that. Oh, and multicolored sweaters are a PITA. Avoid them if possible.

rmorris50

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How to clothe ourselves in a sustainable manner and reducing waste on a global scale is indeed an important and in many ways complicated issue. It's a topic I do a lot of thinking about, and is why I am currently on a year-long buy no new clothes challenge (still going strong since I started in February!) Here are some of my top-line thoughts:

1. The most sustainable item of clothing is one you already own. Use up what you have before buying new (or new-to-you) clothing.
2. Buy less. There is simply too much clothing in the world today, much of it of poor quality.
3. Repair. Extend the life of what you already own by sewing back on buttons that fall off and making other repairs as needed. Or pay a tailor to do it. I do small fixes myself (dropped hem, buttons) and am happy to drop cash at tailors or cobblers to do more complex repairs, like re-soleing a shoe or replacing the lining of a coat.
3. Dispose responsibly. If you have an item of clothing that still has life left in it, selling it or consigning it or giving it directly to another individual, like via Buy Nothing or a clothing swap, will maximize the chance that someone else will use the garment. This is controversial in some circles, but I consider donating clothing to thrift shops to be a second choice when I am short on time. Thrift shops often have more clothing donations than they can handle and a lot of good stuff ends up being shunted to the global textile resale/recycling circuit (ala Dead White Man's Clothes) or being landfilled. Also, don't give garbage clothes to thrift stores. Repurpose super worn clothing as rags or sewing project material, donate old linens to animal shelters, and put anything that's left in textile recycling bins.
4. When looking to obtain new clothing, look first to buy secondhand. Lots of nice things can be found in thrift stores or online at places like Poshmark and eBay.
5. If you do buy retail, try to support ethical and sustainable brands, and/or individual artists. Put your money towards supporting businesses that share your values. Look here for some brand ideas: https://mygreencloset.com/. Also support businesses investing in technologies to do true garment-to-garment recycling, like https://rifo-lab.com/. This type of effort is still relatively rare.
6. Educate yourself on what is meant by ethical and/or sustainable clothing so that you can spot greenwashing in advertising. Is that "recycled material" pre- or post-consumer? What percent of the garment is made from that recycled material? Is that fabric made from a fiber that is compostable/biodegradable? Does the company post regular financial statements, and disclose the salary of its employees (top marks to Able on this - https://www.livefashionable.com). Does the company have a takeback program for recycling or reselling its own used products? Do they craft new products from scraps of old product too worn to resell? Did the manufacturer take steps to reduce water consumption during production? Different brands will have different strengths, but you want to be sure you understand what you are buying.
7. Buy quality and try to stay away from buying trendy clothes that you won't want to wear for a long time. Note that your style is your own and no fashion blogger can define what will be a timeless item for YOU.
8. Maintain your clothing well: Over-washing and machine drying wears clothing out faster. Rewear garments between washes when feasible and try line drying or drying using a collapsible folding rack.

I don't get the fascination with washing all clothes every time you wear them. Pants are the best example if you are in an office environment. They don't get sweaty or dirty unless you spill some food on them - they can easily be worn more than one day. I seriously wonder, do people wash their pajamas every time they wear them? I would imagine many don't. If not them, why would you do it with a lot of items you wear that aren't sweaty or dirty. If people do wash that religiously, then how on earth do you get all of your laundry done?
Pajamas??? Now that is unnecessary clothing.


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Villanelle

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Related thought: If you donate clothing to local thrift shops, it stays where you donate it. The big operations (GW, SA) tend to centralize and redistribute, which has an added environmental impact. You can help further by making sure what you donate is clean. Most places don't have laundry facilities, so something that cpukd be washed gets ragged instead.

You can help assure that the items you donate will find new homes by donating in season. Storage space is at a premium in every thrift operation and holding inventory is expensive. Donating out of season increases the chances of your items being ragged. My MIL passed away in June. I donated all of her summer things and am saving the winter items until it's cooler.

And thank you, @halftime, I've been unraveling/"frogging" wool sweaters to make dryer balls for gifts (shhhh). I did not know there was an actual term for deconstructing knitted items. At the thrift where I volunteer, they save anything wool that's stained, has holes or is hideous for me. I pay a quarter per piece, which is our standard price for things that aren't good enough to sell, but too good to rag. BTW, all of our ragging goes to the Salvation Army. I wonder if this is who runs the box program you describe.

@Dicey , I'd love to hear more about your dryer ball project.  How do you wind and secure the strands of wool so they stay balled?  Any other tips or directions for this project?  And about how many sweaters-worth does it take to make one ball?  (I know it wouldn't be just sweaters, but that seems like a reasonably measurement.)  This project seems like something I could start now and presumably have enough for some holiday gifts.
Generally, one rolls the balls, stuffs them in old nylon stockings  and ties each one off, then boils them or washes them in hot water five times to shrink the wool and voila, they're dryer balls. That's what I'm told, anyway. I'm still at the making balls of wool stage. I've gotten quite adept at disassembling wool garments and figuring out which types are most efficient to unravel. I finish them by using a crochet hook to bury the end of the thread within the ball. I now have a lovely thrifted basket full of yarn balls, but that's as far as I've learned. I have a big canning pot I'm going to use for the boil method, because I live in drought country and I figure I can re-use the boiled water for multiple batches. Alas, it's too damn hot now to do any of that, so I keep winding balls.

If you know what "Fully Fashioned" means, you can skip this next paragraph:

The easiest garments to deconstruct are those knitted into the shape they will take, i.e. the knitter fashions the sleeves, the front and the back to their desired size and shape, then joins them together. Look for the distinctive markings at the top of the sleeves. Garments that are cut and sewn together are not what you want. They don't unravel (or "frog") into continuous strands. Total pain in the ass and not worth the time.

Avoid boiled wool, because it's already been shrunk. Likewise for anything that's unwearable because it's taken an accidental trip through the dryer. Oh, and really fuzzy sweaters get lint everywhere. I work them on my front porch with a mask on. I'm sure my neighbors think I'm nuts. Finally, medium denier seems to be the sweet spot. Too fine and rolling a single ball takes forever. I've made them of varying sizes, from about 40 to 65 grams. I use a scale to make sure I have three of the same size/color (to make sets) and don't worry much beyond that. Oh, and multicolored sweaters are a PITA. Avoid them if possible.

Thanks!  Im surprised they stay balled, but I guess the shrinking while in ball form, inside the stocking, takes care of that. 

Botany Bae

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Thanks!  Im surprised they stay balled, but I guess the shrinking while in ball form, inside the stocking, takes care of that. 

It's part of the felting process. Wool fibers have scales on the cuticle that causes them to interlock into each other tightly and permanently, which is what creates felt. The fibers will lock into whatever form they are placed into before the heat and moisture is applied. You can make anything, from felted stuffed animals to felt patches with complicated designs.

Cranky

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It’s harder to find felted sweaters than it used to be because there’s a decent market for stuff up cycled from them.

Dicey

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It’s harder to find felted sweaters than it used to be because there’s a decent market for stuff up cycled from them.
It helps if you volunteer at a thrift store ;-). You could post requests for stained and/or moth-holed wool sweaters on ND, FB or Buy Nothing. I'm sure folks who have them would be relieved to see them put to good use.