Ethical Fashion

What to do with your used clothes?

We all know this when we tidy up our wardrobe. We have clothes we do not wear anymore for several different reasons. Maybe the size is wrong, the clothes are too big or too small. Or another reason might be that they have been used for many years and now these clothes have small defaults. And again they are just not your style anymore. There are nearly countless reasons but each time we tidy up we find things we do not wear anymore. What to do with these used clothes- we want to help you here!

First of all define what is the reason why you want to sort out these clothes? With our guideline towards a capsule wardrobe you can find some help to tidy up your wardrobe and what to do, but in this blog we go even more into detail.

There will be two different main topics to take care about: Clothes with default which cannot be repaired and used clothes which you do not like anymore or which do not fit anymore (maybe they never did). These two groups need to be treated differently. As for clothes in perfect shape there are different ways to use them again, while clothes with default need to be recycled.

Clothes without default

We all know this feeling of buying something for a special occasion, because we believe it will fit later on, or because we like it this moment. And we all end up with clothes in perfect shape (sometimes even with tag on it) in our wardrobes. These can be sold, swapped or donated. Or even upcycled!

Upcycle

Whenever you bought something you did this for a reason. You like the tissue, the colour or the print. And no matter which piece you would like to give away, think about the possibility to make rather something else out of it. Upcycling is the keyword which means to make something better of it instead of just recycling it.

You can find many ideas online when you just type “upcycle t-shirt” for example. Often you need few or no knowledge in terms of sewing skills. Easy little steps explain din videos can help you to upcycle yourself.

If you miss ideas or you do not feel sure how to realise your ideas, look out for help. If you live in France check out Un Trésor dans mon placard. Laurie did create her company with an amazing idea- she will help you the upcycle. You simply bring your favourite jacket which does not fit anymore, a dress where you like the colour but not the cut or anything else. She will make you proposals of what to do with these pieces and she will even realize your choice. Like this out of an old jacket a new t-shirt will be born. As the clothes are made for you they will fit perfectly and be unique pieces at the same time.

Sell or swap

Sell your clothes second hand online or in classical second hand shops. You did invest money in what you wear and you have the right the revalue your investment. Check for applications to sell upload a photo and here you go.

To get something else instead the so called “swap parties” can be for you. These are events where you will meet with people who have the same problem as you. Everyone will bring the unworn clothes and you can exchange them with others. This is a great occasion to also meet people with the same spirit as yours of reducing waste. Maybe you can even make some new friends! To find these parties check via google or via local associations which are part of the “zero waste” movement.

Donate

Faster to get rid of your clothes and also with a good cause is to donate them to associations. But please play a fair game. These associations all function with volunteers who give their free time to do good. Sort your clothes properly and only give pieces you would also wear again. Means no big holes, no stains, etc. Bring the clothes in a good state, cleaned and folded. You add dignity to the volunteers work and we believe this is only fair.

Us ourselves we are volunteers at a big national French association and you do not believe how many donations are just trash, dropped off as it is easier for people not to take time to sort before.

The Red Cross

The Red Cross which is an international organization for example collects them in most countries. You can find the locations where to drop of the clothes on their homepage of each country. They use the clothes to dress the less fortune or sometimes sell them in a thrift shop to use the money they make to help the ones in need. Their work goes much further than clothes. Food and sanitary help is part of their daily work as well as social support.

Emmaüs and the Secours Populaire – Two big French associations 

Emmaüs is a French organization helping the ones in need by giving a place to live and helping them to reintegrate into the society. The associations finances by donations but as well by selling clothes, decoration and furniture. To integrate the people and assure them to learn they have workshops where furniture gets repaired and upcycled.

The Secours Populaire is one of the biggest French associations with a wide offer how to help. From food to French classes to again thrift shops. And for their shops they need your donations. The clothes you give will most times be resold to use the money in the association. People in urgent needs of course get dresses with these clothes as well. The association is French but works with international partners especially when it comes to catastrophes around the globe.

Further to these associations there are many national ones in each country. Even in France there are more as the “Restos de Coeur” or the “Secours Catholique”- called Caritas around the globe. Check on the homepage of your town, ask people around or search on the internet and you will find a long list of associations. Which one to choose is your decision.

But maybe an idea: Take some time to drop off your unused clothes and talk to the people. You might learn more about the associations but most definitely meet incredible people. And who knows, maybe you soon will be part of an association as volunteer.

Clothes with defaults

Clothes with small defaults as holes or stains are not to be sold, donated or swapped. But there are still possibilities to give them a second life. We will show you one example here but there are in each country further initiatives- just look out for them and you will be surprised about the creativity out there.

We want to present you one company who had an incredible idea about socks. Chausettes Orphelines is a French company taking care of all old socks. The name translated means “orphan socks”. No matter if they have a small hole or if they “lost” their partner in the washing machine, becoming an orphan. All socks are welcome.

They work with handicapped people which are getting training to integrate them in the world of work after some training time.

The donated clothes and especially socks are sorted by colours. They are cut in small pieces to make a new thread out of them and following new socks. These new socks do not only give a second life to the textile but are also super high quality- all made in France.

How they came up with this project? – By an easy but shocking calculation. Socks are made out of cotton and one pair of 60 grams uses 1350 litres of water which is around 20 showers. One pair!

Further over 90% of unworn, old or single socks are thrown in the bin. Only in France 300 Million pairs of socks are used per year. This is 16 000 tons of trash. Only by socks this is the equivalent weight of 16 0000 cars- try to imagine.

The fashion industry needs some change

Behind all these ideas is one fact: we consume too much clothes. Even though these are good solutions, the best is to reduce the consumption. Recycling is limited and there is so much used clothes out there that associations always have huge stock. If we want to change something sustainable for the long run we need to change our consumption.

So tidy up your wardrobe, swap, sell or donate, but mainly try to buy less next time!

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