Even though it now appears that donating clothing to charities may not be the charitable action we once thought (clothing often ends up in third world countries in over abundance, causing economical,societal, and environmental problems), wearing vintage clothing and using old clothing can still make an impact on the environment, and your community.
How can you use vintage clothing and your old clothes to make a difference? And why is buying vintage clothing better than getting new clothes from chain stores?
1. Vintage clothing is often made better, and (obviously) can stand the test of time. Getting ahold of a few good vintage items, and repairing them as needed will last you a lot longer than current cheaply made and often questionably produced garments.
2. Clothing swaps in your area can also be found by simply searching online. They can be great ways to meet people, have a good time, and give, while possibly finding something great for yourself! Clothing swap parties are a great way to have fun and spread a mentality of “making things stretch” in your community. At the party, you can put out educational material on “green living.” Turn it into a healthy potluck – people can bring their unwanted clothing and a healthy dish. Encourage people to bring food with a locally produced or organic element if possible. If an entire community is aware about green living, making the transition can be much easier, as people can share their tips amongst each other. Banding together and harnessing your “buying power will eventually lower the cost of organic items, and make your community more green.
3. Stained, torn, or faded vintage clothing can become a canvas for your creative side. Crafting and selling independently are great ways to “be green.” When you are an independent seller, not only do you have the option to connect to your community on a personal basis, but you also cut down in a small but powerful way against gas guzzling corporations and less than savory factory conditions. Old vintage clothing can be revamped in many ways – the garments are either embellished, re sewn, patched, braided, or screen printed to become one of a kind new pieces. The garments can also be deconstructed to create functional items like pot holders, dishcloths, baby slings and diaper bags, purses, quilts, curtains, and more. Cut strips of fabric and braid them together. Embellish the braid with vintage buttons, or just leave it plain. Tye the ends off with some cord, or a thinner strip of fabric, or you can sew it shut. You can use this section of braided fabric as a retro headband, or necklace.
Overall, vintage clothing can be a great way to help make things stretch. While donating clothing may not be as green as we once thought – clothing ends up getting trucked around, and may end up in Africa, where resellers that take advantage hurt the economy – doing some research into what non profit you are donating to, and what the pathway is of the donated clothing, can help you feel good about your donation. Using vintage clothing, and learning to be thrifty and think outside of the box can get you started on making other green changes in your life, and connecting with your community.