Thursday, December 3, 2015

Grandma Doesn't Need Another Ugly Christmas Sweater

Nor does she need any other article  of clothing. In the global north, we have more clothes than we can possibly wear. And so do most people in the global south since we ship so many of our discards overseas. For Americans, many of the gifted articles of clothing are unwanted. They typically end up languishing the back of closets until the recipient lets go of the guilt and donates them to a charity. 
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I recently learned that when the earthquake hit Haiti in 2010, the initial reaction by Americans was to ship used clothing overseas. Turns out this was not what they needed. The shipments clogged the ports, sometimes delaying the shipments of things they really needed. In the end, most of the clothes were burned just to get rid of them.

Most people only wear about 20% of the clothes they own, and sometimes items are discarded after one wearing. We pat ourselves on the back for helping the poor, unfortunate people in the world by donating our clothing. But really, do we give them our best or things that are past their prime? I once heard a blogger talking about updating her seasonal wardrobe. She commented that blouses that had tears or stains would just go into the donation box for someone else to wear. Really? It's not good enough for you but it is for the "poor"?

This article gives some ideas on how to opt out of the fashion buying craze. I also blogged about the truth behind the clothing glut and what happens to donations here

For the holiday season, instead of buying clothes (or other consumer goods), consider giving the gift of time, services, or food. Something people really want and something that is better for the earth.

*My use of the photo from this website does not mean I endorse buying an ugly Christmas sweater to "help" those in need. Why not skip buying the sweater and donate the money instead? Or at the very least, if you feel compelled to wear (or gift) one, find one at a thrift store.


Laura said...

So true!! I'm putting together food care packages for my family from the Mennonite store. Like homemade peach salsa sauce, pie fillings, etc. :)

Cherie said...

Laura - great idea! I give my grown kids the gift of food now. :)

April Michelle said...

If we need clothing we let family know, other wise they give us money or gift cards.

April Michelle said...

And I always tell them to buy Orion's clothes a size or two up so they can be used later.

Cherie said...

April, glad you let family know of your specific needs. In January, thrift stores are packed with gifts that were given with good intentions but not needed by the recipient.

April Michelle said...

Yeah, my family tends to buy me clothes that I won't wear. If my granny sends me clothes (thankfully she usually sends scarves), then it will probably end up in a thrift store or swapped via a swap site. I don't like receiving clothes as most of my family doesn't know my style or what looks good on my body very well.

Cherie said...

April, I'm the same way. For years well-intentioned people bought me clothes that didn't suit me. However, I think I'll hit the thrift stores after the holidays to see if I can cash in on people cleaning out their closets and/or getting rid of unwanted gifts. ;-)