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Do you throw away too many clothes ?

(20 Posts)
whoknowsme Mon 16-Jan-12 16:00:55

I was thinking as my son came home with yet another pair of trousers with a "ripped beyond practical repair" knee.

I'm crap at sewing and have joint issues that cause me grief hand sewing, have never really learned machine sewing or had access to a sewing machine but know that the trousers and umpteen other pairs could be converted to shorts to avoide waste and those with frayed hems could be cut down into 3/4 length for summer or trousers for the slightly shorter child.

I asked the costs of doing this sort of thing at my local seamstress type shop and honestly for that price he could have a new pair of supermarket school trousers or primark casual trousers !

I'm losing weight and looking forward to getting back into some of my smaller clothes but some of them need a bit of updating quite frankly if they are to pass muster as serviceable work clothes and not make me look like a bag lady who dresses in totally out of style clothes, hem lengths need adjusting, trouser legs taking in etc.

I was pondering the idea that repairing/altering clothes could be subsidised by the government to minimise waste/landfill and encourage thriftiness. Surely there are individuals who would like to learn the skill required to have a new post redundancy job in making over/repairing clothes. The scheme could be tied in with a subsidy by the government in the form of vouchers given in exchange for donating outgrown clothes to a recycling clothes bank for redistribution where needed by charities supporting families in need.

I was awake pondering this at 5am this morning, bizarre eh !

InvaderZim Mon 16-Jan-12 16:09:29

I have the skills! However, it's a pretty time consuming process to take clothes in. Making shorts out of children's trousers is generally quicker.

Cynical me says the government would never go for this because the economy runs on consumerism. If we buy more crap, the government has numbers to parade about saying how well we're doing.

outofbodyexperience Mon 16-Jan-12 16:19:40


in our town we were encouraged to 'save water' over the last couple of years. huge campaign and it's been really successful - useage down quite a bit.

as a result they are now putting up the prices for water supply. grin

the local rag is wondering whether they should be encouraging townfolk to leave all their lights all and use more energy in case the oil and gas and electric companies catch on. thrift and eco-sense are definitely bad for the economy.

i took three huge bags of clothes to our thrift store one morning. i mentioned this to a friend later that day and she laughed. the trhift store takes over three tons of clothing to the landfill a week. i'd been saving the damned stuff up for months to take it to the thrift store as i didn't want it to go to the landfill. <sigh>

PostBellumBugsy Mon 16-Jan-12 16:23:38

I only throw away underwear. Everything else is either sold on eBay or given to the charity clothing collectors.
Really shocked to hear thrift shops taking clothes to landfill. The charity shop my mum works in gets a company to come & buy clothes that they can't sell & they get money per tonne of clothing.

outofbodyexperience Mon 16-Jan-12 18:29:30

i know. i was shocked too. <glum> we're so far out of the city that it isn't cost effective for anyone to come and get it though. there's no demand. i had heard that someone was going to try and ship it themselves for o'seas relief somewhere, but it's just too expensive to organise.

PostBellumBugsy Tue 17-Jan-12 10:22:24

The school my kids go to is out in the sticks & they do two massive collections a year. Might be worth looking into.

HipHopOpotomus Tue 17-Jan-12 10:43:34

"repairing/altering clothes could be subsidised by the govt" - good grief, has the world gone mad?

Just do it yourself, a sewing machine is very easy to learn to use for basic sewing. Or your children could do it themselves (hand stitching or on the machine) and you'd be teaching them a skill that will have them reinventing their clothes all their lives.

Clothes can be repaired, altered into shorts etc as OP suggests, upcycled (made into something new - I've made young DD clothes from my old tshirts, mens shirts etc), used as cleaning rags, taken to charity shop and ebayed if in good condition, some are shipped abroad.

Yes lots of clothes go to landfill, but if you see the state of some of the clothes donated to charity shops then this is understandable.

When I first came to UK (1994) I used to buy clothes in a 2nd hand shop in Wembley that was 100% 2nd hand clothes from somewhere in Europe!

Another alternate is to buy a lot less clothing - replace as needed - one in one out. Perhaps buy less better quality clothing that will last you several years rather than look rubbish after one season.

ragged Tue 17-Jan-12 13:53:06

Could you just offer them in Freecycle to someone wiling to do minor repairs? Or use for patchwork? Could look into bartering, someone alters OP's clothes down sizes, and OP does something for them.

whoknowsme Fri 20-Jan-12 10:54:12

I think offering them on freecycle to someone with the ability to turn them into shorts is probably the best suggestion.

It's not as easy as "just do it yourself", some people are good at sewing, some at decorating, some at car maintenance, some at doing bookkeeping etc. I'm not good at sewing and have physical problems. I seriously wouldn't inflict a crap job on my son only to have him get teased. I did try wunderweb for trousers to shorts conversion jobs but it only lasts a couple of washes.

I am aware of how much stuff charity shops chuck away, particularly basic baby clothes, my retired mum works in one such shop. I'd rather sell baby clothes on Ebay for a penny + p&p or at the NCT nearly new sale in the hope that they'll be re-used at least once more before being binned.

When hard times were predicted over the coming years, part of me was glad that people might learn to be happy with less "stuff" and take this attitude forward for the rest of their lives but consumerism is a hard beast to tame.

The kids and I love adapting/making over an old piece of furniture and it's a fairly cheap pastime, my husband hates the idea and the results.

jshm2 Mon 27-Feb-12 21:21:33

Nope. I make cushions, and covers out of some of my old clothes among other uses.

What your proposing though is interesting as I was having a conversation with an old clothes "dealer" a few weeks ago. These are guys who will pay you by the kilo for your clothes rather than you hand them into a charity shop.

Anyway it turns out some of the heavier use materials get sold for almost three times their UK value in 3rd world markets. They will just sew and alter as they please since labour is cheap over there.

He tells me that everything get reused and little goes to landfill.

Migsy1 Thu 26-Apr-12 18:45:05

Charity shops chuck out basic baby clothes? shock I always wondered why I couldn't buy any. I had always assumed that they didn't get them in or that they sold quickly. What a ridiculous waste!

Moomoomie Thu 26-Apr-12 18:55:56

I have been converting some of my oldish t shirts into nighties for dd. she loves them. I also converted a hoodie to a garden cover up for her. She gets filthy playing in the garden. I'm quite pleased with them all.

SecretNutellaFix Thu 26-Apr-12 19:06:03

I don't donate many items to charity shops for any of the big charities any more, only local ones. This is after I saw how much decent stuff got thrown away into communal bins by one of them, which shares the bin cage with the other shops in our row. Yes, some stuff is horrific that they get given, but I am talking teacup and saucers, still wrapped in newspaper, a tiffany style lamp - fair enough if they couldn't have sol the whole thing, but at least take the shade off and get some money for that.
The cheekiest part of all? "We urgently need donations of good quality books, clothes and bric a brac" is the sign on their window.

Takver Thu 26-Apr-12 19:22:30

whoknowsme, is there a LETS in your area? If so then one of the things that is most commonly offered IME is small sewing jobs/alterations.

Of course you'd have to offer something to earn LETS to pay for them, but generally it will be much cheaper than paying a professional.

Clothes swap parties are also a very good way of getting rid of your tat to someone who will be pleased with it and getting a whole new lot in the right size grin

Also our PTA is about to start doing a clothes collection for recycling scheme where we get paid by the ton, which is a good answer for unusable stuff (if nothing else it will go for rags, I suspect).

hmc Thu 26-Apr-12 19:27:24

Do you not have any clothes banks skips near you - they are pretty commonplace in supermarket car parks. An fairly confident that the textiles in these get recycled?

notcitrus Thu 26-Apr-12 19:31:19

Clothes swap parties are great.
Other clothes go to charity shop for sale or the ragman, so they get some money no matter what. But baby clothes that aren't saleable I put on Freecycle for foster parents, or to HV for refuges etc.

And I buy 2nd hand as much as I can, usually when visiting parents in Surrey where the charity shop stock is much

Meglet Tue 05-Jun-12 11:56:32

IIRC something like 95% of the stuff that gets put in a clothes skip gets recycled, my friend is involved in it and says they really don't let much go to landfill.

I only give nice stuff to charity shops, all the other old clothes go in the rag bin.

TalkinPeace2 Fri 08-Jun-12 22:27:18

remember that a lot of that fabric that is "sold for rag" is in fact turned into things like bank notes
charity shops are a bit cagey about admitting to it but its a big money spinner for them - bales of torn cotton are worth good money to them
to be turned into good money

zacee Wed 11-Jul-12 15:37:28

a new multi-charity online clothes shop called claims to have a 'zero-to-landfill' policy and they collect from home by courier anywhere in mainland UK, so making donations is easy. This also avoids the theft of clothes that's been a big problem for charities. The best items are sold in their online shop by the various charities involved, so the number of bargains is increasing all the time. They say goods not suitable for UK sale are exported to developing countries. Only totally unusable materials are sent for fibre recovery (and currency production is unlikely because of the cleaning needed for this specialised use). It is mainly used for various types of insulation. Worth checking out.

GreenMum37 Thu 02-Aug-12 13:02:37

Thanks zacee, I've checked out and they are picking up a bag of my clothes tomorrow. I've decided to give mine to Home Start, great cause.

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