Opinion: Clothing, a matter of need and want

Raelene HallMidwest Times
A lot of clothing ends up in landfill rather than being recycled.
Camera IconA lot of clothing ends up in landfill rather than being recycled. Credit: The West Australian

I recently watched an amazing video about western clothes being shipped to India, where they are recycled and turned back into thread, which is then made into blankets. Recycling at its best.

Apart from the actual process, what I found fascinating was the comments of one of the young women in the video who was involved in the process. She sat with a group of other women, their children playing around them, sorting the clothes into matching colours.

I was interested by her amazement at the type of clothes and how you wore them (a one-piece bathing suit), the size of some of the clothes (asking “what do Western people eat so much of that they get so fat?”) and the sheer quantity of clothing — “why do people need so many?”

Her only knowledge of the clothes worn by other cultures was from watching the Discovery Channel. Her wish is to one day travel overseas and see people wearing these clothes for herself.

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It reinforced something I realised about 12 months ago when I saw the quantity of clothing in our society which ends up in landfill.

I was shocked as I just assumed clothing ended up in op shops, was used for rags, or fulfilled other purposes once finished with by the owner. Obviously not.

It was a wake-up call for me as, over the years, I always felt a trip to Perth meant I had to buy some new clothes. Whether I really needed them was another matter altogether. I bought for want rather than need.

This led me to making a concerted effort in the last 12 months not to buy any new clothing that wasn’t absolutely necessary.

I did buy a couple of items in Africa because they were unique, and what I paid for them was a pittance to me but hopefully fed a family for a little while over there.

By not continually buying more clothes, I have found myself making much better use of what is already in my wardrobe, wearing things more regularly and to more occasions. Some events I only attend once a year.

Do I honestly believe someone will know if I wore the same skirt/top/jacket the previous year? And if they do, so what?

Travelling is my favourite thing to do. When I weigh up travel against new clothes, I know which one wins hands down!

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