A man walks into a charity shop, has a look around, then heads to the cashier with a handful of long skirts……OK I know it sounds like the start of a joke but that man was me and after a few awkward moments, as the cashier eyed me up and down, I explained what I planned to do with the skirts (more on that later). The cashier seemed impressed and told me I should have a word with the manager as they get a lot of skirts donated but most of them don’t go onto the shop floor but are thrown away.
It was while I was driving home that the conversation really hit me: The charity shop throws lots of clothing away that, I quote, “isn’t perfect”. Now looking back I do remember when charity shops were generally full of ‘junk’ but over the years, more and more of us donate our unwanted clothing to one charity or another. The problem, however, is that with so much more arriving at the shops, they can select the garments that will make them the most money off the peg: No longer will you see a shirt on the rack with a missing button or a small tear, instead you will find a lot of ‘as new’ clothing (many still with labels on!) commanding a higher price. Yes good for the charity concerned as it helps them generate much needed funding but what about the other waste?
Last year a film was released by filmmaker Andrew Morgan called ‘The True Cost‘. A documentary that examines the untold story of the clothing trade. (If you haven’t yet seen it I suggest you have a look). Whilst we are constantly reminded about the horrors of low pay, poor conditions and slave labour evident in so many clothing manufacturers the real message is we buy too many clothes and don’t spend enough on them.
One thing really stood out for me from the film:
- Only 10% of the clothes given to charity shops are sold in the shop!