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Topic: Here's an ethical green crafty question.  (Read 8614 times)
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« on: March 07, 2008 06:50:21 AM »

Is it more ecologically ethical to;

a) Donate my family's old clothes I just pulled out of everyone's closets to Goodwill.

2) Pull out all elastics, buttons, and zippers to reuse on my crafts and sewing of new clothes for us?

Either way they are being reused.

I'm not stressing over it, I am just wondering which is more green. Huh

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« Reply #1 on: March 07, 2008 06:52:54 AM »

I cleaned out our closets recently too! I chose to do a little of both- pulled zippers and such off the worst of the bunch, cut squares out of the best (and most memorable) items for a tshirt quilt, and then donated the rest.

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« Reply #2 on: March 07, 2008 12:35:13 PM »

Hard call.  I'd say that if the garment, as a whole, is still wearable, it's probably a bit greener to donate the entire thing, unless you have a specific use for ALL the garment.  For instance, you make a sundress, love the print, but the dress never fits right, so you cut the dress up and use it for quilt squares. 

If the garment has no wear left (or is unsale-able) due to stains, holes, weakening of fabric, etc.  it's probably better to salvage trims and other items you can use later,and make cleaning rags or rag-rug strips out of the fabric if it's suitable.  Some thrift stores DO take really ratty cotton clothes and sell them back to manufacturers, so call your stores and find out.   I have no clue what to do with worn-out polyester except pitching it in the trash.  Unless you bought the original item from Patagonia.  I believe they still have a poly fleece-recycling program.
« Reply #3 on: March 07, 2008 12:37:27 PM »

I think it depends. If the clothing is still wearable I say donating it is more ethical. But it it's ripped, stained, in bad shape then using the buttons/zippers/whatever yourself is the more ethical option.
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« Reply #4 on: March 07, 2008 06:02:39 PM »

Don't stress out either way since less than half of what is donated to Goodwill is actually put on the racks.  A good friend of mine works at a Goodwill and when they receive clothes they are thrown into a bin and sorted out into piles, then they are looked over.  they decide if they can get more money out of it by selling it or by recycling it.  They also use what they have on the racks to help determine what to put out and what to sell to raw salvage.  If you want to make sure that it go to someone locally and not shipped overseas or sold for recycled stuff (carpet backing in you car, etc.)  then take it to a homeless shelter or protection shelter. 

You can also take your zippers, buttons,and such off and put that stuff in a bag and label it salvage and most Goodwills will knows that means that the stuff is not fit for resale.

Anyway you do it ... as long as you keep it out of the dump ... you are doing fine.

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« Reply #5 on: March 08, 2008 06:48:11 PM »

It sounds greener to reuse zippers,buttons,ect. than buying new ones.Either way,good use is being made of the garment. The women's shelter in my area gives whatever clothes they can't use to Goodwill,which in turn provides them with vouchers so the women can pick out what they need.
 I will strip trims from worn out stuff and pass on the good pieces. If I love the fabric, I keep the garment with my fabric stash,but don't cut it up until I'm ready to use it. I've started cutting pockets off of worn out shorts,ect.,and putting them back for when I make a bag-can't have too many inside pockets for stuff.

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« Reply #6 on: May 01, 2008 08:39:21 AM »

I donate if it's a really good item, anything else gets the zippers, ribbing and buttons taken off, bits cut out and then the rest goes in a bag to go in the cloth recycling which happens locally. It's then turned into industrial felt for insulation and such.
« Reply #7 on: May 03, 2008 07:42:43 PM »

This is actually a somewhat complicated issue. Who knew, right? If you donate all of the clothing to Goodwill or another reseller of textiles there is a good chance that the most worn out or least "fashionable" items will never go on a hanger in one of their stores. It is my understanding that Goodwill shreds and otherwise destroys the least desirable of their clothing donations. They can then try to sell the resulting product to manufacturers of pet beds or other "green" textile enterprises. Or, your items might wind up being shipped to another country, sold cheap to developing countries.

Although I have no proof of my position, I'm inclined to say that re-purposing your clothes at home is greener than giving them to a charity. There's nothing at all green about shipping clothes to the ends of the earth!

Just my .02

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« Reply #8 on: May 23, 2008 07:46:15 PM »

I donate EVERYTHING. I don't know about other goodwills, but ours boxes up anything "unsale-able to americans" ie stained, torn, overstarched...and airlifts it to needy countries.
« Reply #9 on: July 23, 2008 02:12:17 PM »

I don't think the question should be which is more green, but which is the better use for the clothing. And, if the clothing is AT ALL usable, then donation is best. Obviously we all love crafting, but there are people who need clothing. I'd skip goodwill though like someone else said, charity thrift stores (St. Vincent's) and shelters will put things to better use.

Unless you're talking about items of memories, in which case I think someone made a great suggestion of making a quilt

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« Reply #10 on: July 29, 2008 05:34:21 PM »

I have a lot of friends that know I like to repurpose clothing into bags etc ... so I get BAGS of clothes.  Some of it I have no use for in a crafting sense but I pass it on to my mom ... who may wear it, if she won't wear it she passes it a friend of hers... etc ... etc ... Maybe you should think of  a few connections to see if anyone somewhere along the line may wear it.  It may not be your taste but someone you know may love/need it. 
« Reply #11 on: August 31, 2008 11:26:39 PM »

Well, the green mantra is to reduce, reuse, recycle, with reduce the most ethical and recycling the least.  So, obviously, we should all start going naked.  Next choice would be to reuse the clothes, or those parts that we want, and to recycle the remainder.

No, I don't want to go naked; I like my feathers and fringe and fancies too much!

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« Reply #12 on: November 17, 2008 08:47:39 PM »

do both
strip what you want and will really reuse then take all the bits to the thrift and they will sort out the sellable and sell the remnants that you cut up as scrap

« Reply #13 on: December 06, 2008 07:20:08 PM »

I'm sure if the answer is "someone would LOVE to have this" then I think you have your answer.  Nice clothes at affordable prices are hard to come by, and folks can really use a great bargain these days. 

But if it's "just another used shirt" then I'd be inclined to turn it into buttons, stays, hotpads, cleaning rags, sachets, patches, or whathaveyou.  My daughter and I turned old shirts into hotpads for the table by sewing strips into tubes and filling them with rice, then hotgluing them into a circle.  She and her friends had a sewing party and turned several pairs of old jeans into purses and skirts and headbands.  There's lots you can do with the stuff that no one else really wants. 
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« Reply #14 on: December 10, 2008 03:55:41 PM »

I heard an interesting piece on This American Life (I think? or a similar radio show) which followed the journey of two items of clothing given to a thrift store in Seattle.  They were both rejected by the local store for minor flaws; one ended up being sold for recycling, the other sold to a bulk dealer who sold the clothes on to suppliers for African market stalls.  Neither one stayed in the US.

Whether that's green or not, I'm not sure.  On the one hand, there is all the transportation involved.  On the other, a synthetic textile was re-used in both cases.  I guess either way it's not in a landfill.
« Reply #15 on: May 03, 2009 09:08:03 PM »

Sadly, I think landfill is probably greener than being shipped by the tonne across the sea. Although some have pointed out that ships are pretty fuel efficient compared to planes. As for the ethics of making clothing available to those in majority world countries.. stained, ripped clothes... it depends... I wonder what price people ultimately pay for them, and who profits the most? Most sweatshop-made clothes come from majority world countries, but I don't know about Africa being a major source of those. It would be ironic if those making clothes for peanuts to send to rich countries bought the discarded remains at their local market.

I think that using parts of the clothing in the home is an excellent idea, if the clothing is not fabulous. Clothing can also be sold at local markets rather than given to op shops - I get rid of heaps of stuff that way that might not get used by an op shop, try a 50c or 20c or giveaway bin. I don't like most op shops - funding the Salvation Army's fundamentalist agenda? No thanks! Plus I don't think charities, especially religious ones, should doing the government's job of supporting the poor. (Yes, I believe in universal healthcare and welfare.)

If the clothing isn't petrochemical derived, then the fabric can be composted, too, which includes rayon.

« Reply #16 on: May 20, 2009 10:35:31 AM »

I tend to do a mix.  Reuse some things, give other items to friends, donate yet more (especially when I had plus-sized suits to unload because a lot of organizations are in desperate need of plus-sized work clothing).  I don't recall which poster it was, but the idea to store the clothing item as is (no cutting) is brilliant.  At least if it never materializes as a craft project I'll still have the option of giving away the piece of clothing in the future instead of finding myself with a hacked apart dress that only has the option of becoming salvage.

Clothing can also be sold at local markets rather than given to op shops - I get rid of heaps of stuff that way that might not get used by an op shop, try a 50c or 20c or giveaway bin.

I agree that this rids the individual of the object but the psychology of a cheap buy, particularly of a damaged good (I'm presuming at that price they must be or you'd sell for more), increases the likelihood that an item will end up in a landfill, if not directly by your own hands.

I don't like most op shops - funding the Salvation Army's fundamentalist agenda? No thanks! Plus I don't think charities, especially religious ones, should doing the government's job of supporting the poor. (Yes, I believe in universal healthcare and welfare.)

Ouch.  So if the government won't do it, no one should?  While I wouldn't want my donations funding programs I don't believe in, many of these organizations seem to believe themselves led to help the poor, homeless, etc. because of their religious beliefs but are not using donations or financing to indoctrinate others.  I wandered away from pre-build prayers in college when I was involved with Habitat for Humanity but, to the best of my knowledge, no one at that organization was forcing an agenda upon the recipients of their homes.  If you have information to the contrary on such organizations I'd love to hear it because I do attempt to make sure that my time and donations are not used to further things I do not believe in.
« Reply #17 on: June 06, 2009 12:45:19 PM »

There's a great photo here of how you could do both, and for more than scrap, no less!  You could take what you need from them, then stitch them all up into these great flat rugs (not like rag rugs) - to keep, to sell, to donate...tons of options!
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« Reply #18 on: June 06, 2009 03:47:45 PM »

There's a great photo here of how you could do both, and for more than scrap, no less!  You could take what you need from them, then stitch them all up into these great flat rugs (not like rag rugs) - to keep, to sell, to donate...tons of options!

Awesome link. Thank you so much. I love the flat rug idea immensely as I use a lot of rugs in the house.

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« Reply #19 on: July 05, 2010 02:30:01 PM »

Great thread!

Although I'm new to living green, I've been sidestepping S/Army and GoodWill for a few years now. Instead, if the clothing {or any item} is still in *good* wearable/usable condition {which happens a LOT with two quickly growing teens & a recent remodel}, I list it on Freecycle.Org.

{For those who might not know, FreeCycle is an online Yahoo group ~ it's broken up into cities/regions and the only real rules are that the items must be free}

FreeCycle appeals to me more, knowing that often, some people can't even afford GoodWill prices. Plus, I know that someone's going to get some good use out of it, and will pass it on ({if it's still in good condition when they're done} to someone else who really needs it!

My apologies for resurrecting a dead thread, but didn't see that listed as an option.
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« Reply #20 on: September 02, 2010 08:46:31 PM »

One idea -- old jeans can be donated and made into insulation for housing and automotives. 

« Reply #21 on: September 08, 2010 08:43:44 PM »

i say that if you are going to use all of it, then keep it, otherwise, local shelters and such can always use clothing!  heres a rag purse i made from scraps as an idea of using leftover pieces
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« Reply #22 on: July 22, 2013 11:25:31 PM »

Your both options are green.

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