Although I started Project 333 on June 1st, the official summer session starts July 1. I joined the Project 333 Quick Start Course and am getting lots of great ideas. It’s also a nice community and I’m meeting other Minimalists there.
Karo, one of the other people taking the course, posted a link today on the course’s private Facebook group to a really thought-provoking Slate Magazine article about what happens to clothes after you donate them to a charity, such as Goodwill or the Salvation Army, here in the United States.
The article discusses how the nicest clothes are sent to the thrift store for resale, then the worn clothes are sent to a textile recycler (for pulp/rags) and then the medium-ish clothes that are not quite new or didn’t sell are compressed into cubes, shrink-wrapped and shipped overseas.
It’s kind of horrifying to think what these people must think of us….hyper-consumers who give away new or slightly worn clothes because we are bored with them. Apparently there is a whole market overseas for cast-off, nearly new American clothes.
It made me glad I am doing Project 333, because I am really using every item in my assigned wardrobe. There’s no waste. Once the project is over I will probably add in a few items again, but I think my permanent wardrobe will be smaller now. I’ve gotten used to thinking I need more than I really do. I thought a couple of weeks of clothing per season was a small wardrobe, but now I realize I can manage on even less that that with a well-chosen, coordinated capsule wardrobe.
Before, I could just give away extra clothes to charity and forget about them, but I think now I will always remember those shrink-wrapped cubes of discarded clothes. How much nicer to have a small wardrobe of well-loved items that you will wear until they are worn out. They’ll still end up with the textile recycler eventually, but at least the energy and materials that made them won’t be completely wasted.
It’s funny – I have thought about socially responsible shopping more from a cruelty or free trade perspective but never really just from a waste-generating perspective. I have thought about zero waste in terms of household trash but had not thought of clothes as waste, because I thought someone could use them. But according to the article, so many clothes are donated, it far exceeds the actual need, and at a certain point, it just becomes garbage. Food for thought!