The Environment Vs. Fashion~The Fashionista’s Dilemma

Originally I  conceptualized and commenced this post with the purpose of letting you know about Bounce Around. Somewhere along the way, my mind got a bit sidetracked into sustainability. No surprise there, since sustainability is always on my mind and is one of our core values at HWGA. But, first, here are the details about Bounce Around! This event is a collaboration between 6 different Portland area resale shops with a three-fold focus:

  • An opportunity to explore new shops you haven’t visited before.
  • Raise funds for a local not-for-profit organization through sales of raffle tickets. This event will benefit Friends of Trees! Both HWGA shops will have a big ol’ basket of goodies for the raffle!
  • To raise awareness of the impact of textile waste on our environment and to provide a convenient drop off spot to bring textiles for recycling.

The statistics about textile waste are alarming, to say the least. This article from the New York Times this week spells out just a few tidbits. The average American generates 75# of waste textiles per year. Think about that just for a minute. Seventy.  Five. Pounds.

Of course, it’s not all clothing, it’s sheets and towels and mattress pads and potholders and so forth. Most of what we generate gets landfilled, although a large portion of it could be recycled.

Not only do we generate nearly 12 million TONS of textile waste, the clothing and textile industry, is second only to oil in terms of pollution generated. The United States is the single largest importer of garments with almost 40% coming from China. Not surprisingly, we are also the single largest EXPORTER of used clothing. Nearly 20% of global waste water is produced by the clothing industry. It takes nearly 5000 gallons of water to manufacture a t-shirt and a pair of jeans. So. Many. Statistics.

While natural fibers are one answer, they aren’t the only one, since cotton farming is a huge user of water, insecticides and pesticides. Most oil-based fibers like polyester, take hundreds of years to decompose. Some retailers, such as H&M ( a prime offender if there ever was one!) have started taking textiles back for recycling. In our opinion, while it’s laudable, it’s a bit like big oil offering to recycle your plastic bags. Fast Fashion is largely responsible for the huge increases in textile waste over the past 20 years. According to the New York Times, a study indicated that fast fashion clothing is constructed to hold up to only TEN wearings!  So, while they accept clothing back for recycling, they haven’t improved the quality of the clothing they sell.

We find that not only appalling, but incredibly wasteful! Better quality clothing costs more, but will last for more wearings, and is usually repairable as well.

So, HWGA is in the clothing industry. Where do we fit into this complicated puzzle? We view our role as one avenue for diverting clothing from the waste stream. At the same time, we try to screen out the higher quality clothing that we believe will last longer, and we want to help you build a wardrobe that will serve you, and understand how to care for clothing to increase its longevity. We also invite you to be mindful of what you purchase so that you don’t end up with purchases that don’t mesh with your current wardrobe to give you more options. It’s a conundrum. What do you think?

I confess, up until recently, I wasn’t even aware of a local area textile recycler. Shame on me. Gemtext is northwest-based and has lots of drop boxes that can be accessed 24/7. But If you have textiles you’ve been saving up to recycle, or things you’re hanging onto even though they’re way past their prime,we’re making it even easier to recycle them!

Bring them to either store this Saturday or Sunday, October 5th and 6th- we’ll get them to Gemtext for you for free!

And while you’re here, grab up a raffle ticket or two and help Friends of Trees. Because you know what they say about the best time to plant a tree – the BEST time is 20 years ago. The SECOND best time is right now.

We welcome your comments!


Author: Chris Gauger

Chris is a self-confessed resale fashionista. A fashion recycler from an early age, she learned the consignment business from her mother, Jan Gauger, at omt divine resale in Lincoln, Nebraska. Chris moved to Portland, Oregon in 1990 and immediately felt at home, among her people. She started Here We Go Again Deluxe Resale Boutique in 1992 and has never looked back. The second location of her store opened in 1997. Chris loves pretty much everything about clothes and fashion, but she has a serious boot and shoe addiction that is fed by the two stores. It's doubtful she will ever be recovered. In addition to clothes, Chris loves mentoring young women and teaching them about what it takes to run and manage a small business. She has employed some pretty remarkable women over the years and is grateful for all they've done to help grow Here We Go Again. She is a Hoosier by birth, but was raised in Nebraska. She has two sisters who continue to run the consignment store there, and one brother who has sense enough to stay out of the way. Her husband of twenty-seven years, is a land use planner and the fix-anything-guru that Chris relies upon more often than she'd like.

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