Originally posted September 25, 2017
With the weather changing soon, a small set of UMaine students were asked what they did with their unwanted clothing. Almost all said they donated them to one charity or another. During a Mitchell Lecture on sustainability, Dr. Dietz, a professor of Sociology and Environmental Science and Policy from Michigan State University said, “We are reluctant to discuss value difference.” The students surveyed, answered with what they thought the politically correct answer should be.
But upon more discussion on the issue, a few admitted they through away soiled or torn clothing. When asked why, they said because they were not good enough to donate, not knowing that they could recycle these textiles, much like plastic, paper and other materials.
As mentioned in “The waste of changing seasons,” blog post, one solution on the UMaine campus is the Black Bear Exchange
where you can exchange your clothing for some new wares of pick up some needed food.
UMaine also has recycle bins around campus called zero-sort, unfortunately one of the only things not excepted are textiles. The Director of Sustainability at University of Maine
, Dan Dixon said that, “The contractor [Casella] does not allow textiles,” but that he would be interested in looking into the process involved in recycling textiles.
Dixon went on to say, that Bangor and Orono used to have “Big Yellow Bins,” possibly from Planet Aid for recycling clothing, but has not seen them lately. This company has been under investigation and according to an NBC Washington
article, “Petersen [company owner] is now on the run -- wanted by Interpol -- after the Danish government charged him with charities fraud and tax evasion.” Perhaps this is why the bins are now gone.
The university also has an end of year sale, the, “Clean Sweep Sale
,” in which all of the items left “donated” by students are sold with the, “Proceeds will be used to support programs and services offered through UMaine’s Bodwell Center for Service and Volunteerism, including the Black Bear Exchange, Welcome Weekend Day of Service, and the MLK Day of Service meal-packing event.”
It looks like overall Maine students and the university itself are doing their fair share of recycling and donating instead of contributing to the 81 pounds per year that most people in the United States throw away.
With students returning to school and the season changing from summer to fall, where does last seasons wardrobe go?
In today’s fast food, fast fashion and new is better “than” repairing the old and used, we as consumers are buying more and wasting more. Americans throws away an average of 81 pounds of clothing every year. This is one of the cycles, making the fashion/apparel industries the second most pollutant industry in the world.
On average 84% of Americans do not recycle their unwanted garments, according to a Newsweek
article. This means that approximately 252 million people throw away an average adding up to 26 billion pounds of clothing every year, according to a Huffington Post
article. In Maine alone, the numbers break down to 20 millions pounds!
The graphic above shows how much Mainers throw away in clothing each year, can cover the entire state 40 times over. (Image not to scale)
This phenomenon is for the most part the end of the fashion/apparel industry cycle and only one contributor in making it one of the most pollutant industries. The manufacturing of textiles is a whole other story that will be discussed in a future article.
One solution is to engage more consumers to recycle the unwanted clothing. In Maine, there are independent stores specializing in consignment, which are money making options for consumers to make some cash from their unwanted attire. The Black Bear Exchange
is a great place to exchange your clothing for some new wares or pick up some needed food, it is located on the Maine campus in Orono.
The larger well known stores such as Buffalo Exchange, Crossroads Trading and even Wasteland will buy back better quality merchandise to be resold in their store are set in more urban environments.
Maine also has plenty of thrift stores that would be happy to take in your unwanted garments. A lot of these store, such as Salvation Army and Goodwill are the more well known stores as well as local store such as Tree of Life Food Pantry & Turnstyle Thrift Shop that help the community they are in with the donations they receive.
You may ask, why so many people choose to simply throw their unwanted clothing away? One of the reasons is in the question itself, it is simple and a lot of people are too lazy to donate them. Another reason according to an article on takepart.com
, states that many people are unsure what can be donated. Basically it comes down to consumers making choice to throw clothing away because it is more convenient than donating or recycling.
But what if it was easier to recycle, similar to recycling plastic bottles and cans? Most neighborhoods have recycle bins that are put out with the trash to be picked up on trash day, it seems to me that having one specifically for textiles could start to change this habit of waste. The good news is organizations such as Savers
have a program Rethink Reuse that is tackling the cause to start minimizing the over 26 billion pounds that ended up in landfills each year. The organization has managed to save 700,000 pounds from ending up in landfills.
This may seem like a small dent in the 26 billion, but every little bit helps and the more consumers are aware, hopefully this trend will not continue.
The spring/summer season maybe be far far away for the consumer market, but the fashion industry works ahead to present the latest trends, which all of us maybe sporting next year.
The hustle and bustle of the city is electrifying. My first stop NYFWM (New York Fashion Week - Men’s) which is at a new location this season. Dune Studio in the heart of the finical district, which is situated in the lower east side of Manhattan.
Spring/Summer 2018 men’s fashion week. The shows are what we call in the industry “presentations,” this is when the models for the most part act as human mannequins while the media, photographers, bloggers and fashionista’s view the latest collections.
First stop, a fresh coconut water bar, where the handsome tender cracks one open for me. It seems a little bit out of place in the cold hard streets of New York to be drinking a fresh cracked coconut, but what the heck, it will be a cool Instagram post.
Here comes the fun, what does this years mens collection have in-store for me. As I walk the halls of the studio, the doors of each studio are adorned by the collections name on the large barn style door covered in chalkboard paint.
The first collection that stands out to me is Head Of State+
which showed for the first time in NYC. I liked the collections simplicity in a complex way. Bold color blocking that any artistic man could build a wardrobe from.
All photos by Stacy Ellen.
stood out the most for being innovative. My first impression was, it looked like old school nautical back in the 80/90s. A fresh revival of sport/leisure wear for men.
The most unique silhouettes of the season have to be from Private Policy
. Is it country, is it 70s, is it “Rhinestone Cowboy,” rebooted? I don’t know and I don’t care, the designer went out on a mechanical bull limb and took the 6 second prize! The designer describes the collection as, “Under the turbulent political climate, the American dream seems a bit lost.” WWD describes the socially conscious label, "The collection delivers a loud societal message and a call to action, taking on issues such as slave labor and global warming,” it goes on to say, “Fun for the eyes and intriguing for the thoughts, a view of America through the foreigners eyes.”
But my favorite collection this SS18 season is Heliot Emil
also showing for the first time in NYC. The collection is titled “PTCS Post Traumatic Combat Stress,” with the industrial military sportswear, is exactly what the world is showing us. This collection manifests the world's atmosphere. Casual, yet useful, yet utilitarian and chic all at the same time. The designer Julius Juul describes the collections as a, “Mixture of formality and discipline of the military with the care free attitude of a lost mind.” Powerful!
My overall view on this years collections as a whole, is there seems to be no thread of commonality. I would describe the SS18 men’s wear collections as a little manic with no clear line of similarity, but instead very different from one another.
This I believe is a good thing, because typically menswear have very few variances. There usually are the typical silhouettes, suits, jeans, jackets, tees, etc., But I have noticed in the last few years of attending the newly formed men’s fashion week, that these silhouettes are expanding.
The shows are capped off by the traditional free booze bar, this time though I run into a reality star from Millionaire Matchmaker that is peddling (literally) alcohol infused Popsicles from his old fashion ice cream cart. The music and atmosphere is electric as it has been all day, the setting is the East River overlooking Queens/Brooklyn. What a day.
Back to school shopping, save some money and help the environment at the same time.
81 pounds every years! This is what the average American throws away every year in clothing, according to a Huffington Post
article on the subject. It is ironic in this day and age that a good amount of people surveyed for this article said they were not aware they could donate unwanted clothes to thrift and vintage stores.
also introduced a program giving customers 15% off their purchase when they bring in their unwanted clothing items to the store. Hopefully this sexy, trendy H&M ad will entice even the most protective of garment hoarders to help the cause of recycling instead of contributing their 81 pounds from ending up in a landfill.
This blog will chronicle my journey from a want-a-be fashionista as a child, to becoming an entrepreneur of several fashion businesses and my current project of finishing my bachelors degree in journalism. My professional experiences, as a former vintage boutique owner in San Diego, to becoming a self taught clothing designer and now a wardrobe stylist and fashion journalist is the foundation of the content.
I hope to share fashion news, trends, inspiration and style, as well as the environmental impact the fashion and the clothing industry has on the world. Along the way, through my eyes readers will get a little glimpse into the fashion business.
Stay tuned in, as I go on this journey and I hope you enjoy the ride.