More and more conversations are happening around where our clothes are going...landfill, gift or donate? From this, our awareness of what we place in the bin is growing.
But. Are we actually turning our charities into second landfill options?
It has become more and more common to send unwanted garments, kitchen appliances or even pieces of furniture to landfill, rather than given a second life.
When did we stop considering if that item has a second life to give?
A recent study found that while Australian's are a 'giving' bunch, we don't actually consider/know what happens when our items are dropped into those charity bins.
Sadly, 60,000 tonnes of our donations go to landfill annually, due to the items being damaged or simply unusable.
This dumping into landfill costs charities a giant $13 MILLION each year - funds that could and should be allocated elsewhere.
Imagine what charities could do with that kind of money....
How much they could put back and give back to the growing population of homeless families, mental health support, food and shelter, children needing clothing and homes needing furniture.
So what can we do...?
Omer Soker from the National Association of Charitable Recycling Organisations (NACRO) suggests that we can help by considering the items we donate and suggests "If you wouldn't lend it to a friend, or give it to a friend, don't donate."
If we already own the item, how do we address the end of life? We believe the consideration needs to be taken back to the purchase of that item.
We really need to start making a stance on what materials we're happy to wear and support the production of. It's seasonal, mass produced, fast fashion items which are not made with a long-term plan in mind. The materials to make the items are usually forms of plastic (such as Polyester), and seasonal so it's out with the old and in with the new every few months. I bet your grandma still has beautiful tailored garments from her 30's and 40's? Right?
This is where we really can vote with our wallets, to influence change.
When we purchase local, handmade and sustainable products, we are supporting the people behind the brand who are trying to make a change.
By doing this as consumers, we can help reduce textiles from going to landfill, and allow our charity organisations better utilise their funds.
We are fortunate in Australia to also have many other recycling programs and options. Whether that be donating large furniture pieces to shelters who support men and women starting from scratch, or companies who reuse every element of an old arm chair or fridge, to make a newer working version.
From the charities side, they are also doing their bit with Vinnies store nationally aiming to be waste and landfill free by 2023. Others are working to turn the unusable threads into things such as shopping bags (from donated jeans and textiles) or by breaking down worn and torn clothing into fibres to then be remade into new usable items the charities can sell in their stores.
So the next time you are about to hit that exciting Purchase button either in-store or online, perhaps consider:
1. The people and conditions of the factory the item was made in
2. The materials used to make that item and the impact of the production process
3. How long you will have that item for and it's longevity once you are no longer 'OMG in love with it'.
Buy with intent. Consciously purchase. Consider the impact.