Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Wet clothes and St. Luke

A new charity shop has opened in the village centre recently. I have not managed to get to it, I love charity shops, the wonderful stuff you get in there is just amazing, the books, the bric a brac, the cd's, the video's. Just great, and no, I am not ashamed of admitting that :), I would say fully 30-40% of my library is from charity shops! :), good deed, don't get sniffy with me!

But over the weekend, it was literally pouring down with rain and when I was haring off the office yesterday early morning, I saw this sodden pile of clothes in front of the shop. It looked very sad, I am afraid.

But that reminded me of the following stories which I read. First, people apparently do not like wearing old second hand clothes for both personal human dignity reasons and medical reasons and that too in Uganda, a developing nation. But I never saw that here in the UK, people happily go about purchasing them.

Second, is recycling your clothes worth it? This article is particularly insightful as to what happens to your donated clothes. I quote:

“Disposability has caused an explosion of problems,” says Dr Lucy Norris, the co-curator of a new exhibition at the Horniman Museum in south London, which traces the odyssey of clothes dumped in Oxfam clothing banks and charity shops. “Clothing is now given in such huge quantities to British charities that they can’t sell it all in the shops. The volume is increasing, while the quality is decreasing.”

For charities to get a return on our tat, most of it is exported. But if you had visions of your old treasures being parachuted into Burma as aid, think again. Charities don’t give clothes away, they sell them. “It takes too long to ship things to disaster areas, and to air-freight them is too expensive,” says Rob McNeil of Oxfam.

Instead, the clothes end up in eastern Europe, Africa and Asia, where they are either sold whole or organised into great colour- coded mounds, as in Panipat, north India, then shredded, pulped and respun into what is known as “shoddy” yarn (recycled wool) and made into cheap blankets.

And finally, the charity shops dont really need or want old clothes, what a shame.

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