Fast & Cheap Fashion Consumption Leads to R.A.G.S.

Skip the landfill and discard your unwanted R.A.G.S. – Recycle Accessories Garments Shoes – responsibly.

Americans discard more than 28 billion pounds of unwanted clothing, shoes, and other textiles.  Charitable organizations and others collect roughly 15 percent of these items, while the remaining 85 percent — 24 billion pounds — end up in landfills.  – Levi Strauss & Co.


The Arc Foundation Thrift Store | Unwanted and Not Saleable R.A.G.S.

At the rate we consume fashion, we buy clothes to throw away!  According to Levi’s® Launches Clothing Recycling initiative in Europe, while many consumers are familiar with recycling bottles, cans and paper, many still throw away clothing.  Every year, the UK discards 350,000 tons of unwanted clothing into unsustainable landfills in the country.

The above shocking statistics are a few of many measurements of the how today’s fashion industry is plagued by over-consumptionall driven by speed and disposability.  Many consumers do not realize the ecological impact of our clothing.  The fashion industry – from raw materials to consumer end-use – has a tremendous carbon footprint. Conserving our resources is not easy, but every action counts. Taking action to reduce textile waste is a responsibility for all of us – the fashion industry, the community, and consumers.

Before we throw-away, we recycle [I believe the future will be a mandate to recycle].  We donate to thrift stores. Thrift stores receive and sort, or what The Arc Foundation of Ventura County [AFVC] calls the process – “ragged”. Within this ‘ragged’ process of sorting, about 80% is usable and goes to the selling floor.  The balance is shipped to their warehouse, collected and then sold to the second hand market.

Aurora, the supervisor of AFVC, says that although the demand for recycled/used clothing has remained steady over the past decade, the quality has gotten worse.  She says, “the 2008 recession brought in donations of high quality, designer and established names.  Today, we see used clothing recycled again”.  Being aware of what the competitive Thrift stores offer, she sees items from those stores end up in her store and vice versa.  The thrift store consumer buys, wears for a few months, and recycles again.  The low quality and same look don’t last and they are not interested in keeping the item for long.

The Arc Foundation Thrift Store | Unwanted and Not Saleable R.A.G.S.

The fashion industry has not made significant improvements in reducing the carbon footprint other than a few major brands such as Levi Strauss & Co and Patagonia.  Each segment of the supply chain has a long road to travel in mitigating the environmental impact.

Conscious designers are speaking out and incorporating sustainable practices in their business. Designer, Andre Walker, tells Steve Salter at i-D Magazine, “I’ve noticed that fashion is becoming more fictitious with the proliferation of luxury and circumstances of the trickle-down principle, fast fashion, the erosion of desire through overexposure. I’m always wishing that the clothing industry might find its way toward a less petrochemical line of production.”

As consumers, we have to stop consuming and disposing of fast and cheap fashion. Skip the landfill and discard your unwanted R.A.G.S.= R. recycle A. accessories G. garments S. shoes, responsibly, by recycling, repurposing, and investing in clothing for longevity.  Support those brands that are making a difference in decreasing their impact on the environment.

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Rhonda P. Hill

Founder, Publishing Editor