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First, we need to think about stopping ourselves before that initial purchase. Who made the garments? What conditions do they work under? Where did the materials come from? Are there any toxic materials involved? How far were they shipped? Do we really need another _______________ (fill in the blank)? These questions should stop us in our tracks - that is, if we really look for the answers. Then later, once clothes have made it to our pile, we need to ask some other questions. Who will want to wear those items? Are they still functional? Would we give them to our best friend? Would anyone want to wear the poorly constructed, uncomfortable, torn and/or stained items in the pile? Do we notice naked people in this country? Is it better to ship said sad items overseas for people who truly don't have the resources to buy clothes or is it better to donate the money we would have spent on clothes to a good cause so people can choose their own new, clean, and functional clothing? See where I'm going with this.
A friend of mine recently returned from a trip to Burundi where she had visited her daughter who works for a nonprofit there. She was showing pictures of some of the children she met, all of them beautiful yet sad at the same time because they were all wearing what were obviously discards from people in the US. It really hit me hard when I saw a little boy wearing what I realized was a pajama top identical to one my daughter bought from Target years ago. Although I'm pretty sure it wasn't hers since she wore her's to death, there's a very, very slim possibility that it was - I may have donated it, even though it was really completely worn out. Why do we think it's okay for children overseas to wear our old clothes?
Bottom Line: Putting your discarded clothing in a pile to go to charity is not necessarily a good thing. There are better ways to help.
Here's the article that got me thinking about this topic: