|The Trouble with Second-Hand Clothing|
This is a really good article from the Business of Fashion today. We really need to understand just how little clothes is re-sold by Oxfam in the UK, versus how much is sold to Africa. The book 'Salaula' by Karen Tranberg Hansen found that the donation of clothing isn't necessarily only a charitable action. There are evidince to argue that the development of an African apparel industry has been stalled because cheap second-hand clothing is so readily available. This then leads to the problems that TK Maxx for instance face in their CSR department in preparation for Red Nose Day: they have African organically grown cotton available, but can't find a supplier to produce the t-shirts. ASOS.com and SOKO also have issues sourcing fashionable garments for their ASOS Africa collection and have had to import fabrics to Uganda (Boodhna & Buxton 2013 [PDF]).
So if you want to donate your unwanted clothing consider why you need to get rid of it? Is it a mistake buy? Did you really use it until it was unwearable and why can't you mend it? Would others find it useful or should it go to the landfill? You should really try to keep your clothes in use - eBay, clothes-swaps and hand-me-downs are the ultimate ways to empty out your wardrobe. You should always try to mend and decorate your clothing so it stays alive and fresh in your mind so you'll keep wearing and cherish it. I find that the longer I try to keep clothes for longer the more I learn about which stitches last and what fabrics work and which just dishevel after a day. I personally find polyester super uncomfortable, but according to research from WRAP polyester fabrics and blends last longer and are therefore more sustainable than natural fibres (WRAP 2013).
So, buy less, mend more and friends before donations!