Donating our clothes to charity is good for everyone.
Fashion has always been big business, and that’s especially true for the sector of the industry known as fast fashion. Defined as the phenomenon of garments that go from design to store in a flash, sometimes within the space of a week, Australian fast-fashion brands are worth $2 billion a year.
These clothes are cheap, which makes them attractive to many Australians. But it’s also creating an increasingly disposable shopping culture. A 2017 report from international research group YouGov found almost a quarter of people surveyed admitting to throwing out clothes after just one wear.
The YouGov report also found that 75% of Australian adults have thrown clothes away in the past year and that 30% tossed out more than 10 garments. Four out of 10 people surveyed said they had put unwanted fashion items in the bin rather than trying to repair or recycle them.
The throwaway culture is growing, with 24% saying they threw out a garment after one wear. One in six people binned at least three garments they’d worn only once.
The report also shows a divide in attitudes towards clothes shopping across generations. Millennials enjoy buying new clothes, with almost a quarter saying they had purchased at least half the clothes they own in the past year. They are also more likely to throw out their clothes within two years.
Baby boomers are the opposite, with more than two-thirds saying that less than 10% of the clothes they own had been purchased in the past year.
When it comes to getting rid of their unwanted clothes, baby boomers were more likely to give their clothes to a charity or recycle them, while younger shoppers were more likely to sell them online.
Across all those surveyed, the most common reason for throwing items away was because they no longer fitted or were damaged. But millennials were more likely to get rid of items because they were sick of wearing them (24%), they were no longer in fashion (19%) or were more than a few years old (18%).
While fast fashion may seem good for customers, it’s not so good for everyone else. A report from Oxfam found that only 4% of the money spent on fast-fashion items goes back to the workers producing them, many of whom work under poor conditions in countries with lack of regulation.
It’s also starting to have a serious environmental impact, with more than 500,000 tonnes of textiles and leather sent to landfill every year in Australia. Given that almost 95% of that total is made of things that are recyclable or reusable, the benefits of giving clothing a second chance can be significant.
Perhaps that’s why Aussies have embraced charity shops like Salvos Stores and continue to support them by donating clothing and other goods that they no longer have a use for, but still have plenty of life left in them. It’s also part of why we are seeing a rise in thrift-shop fashion, with bloggers and other influencers showing that it’s possible to put together a trendy ensemble without breaking the bank—or the environment.
This year for National Op Shop Week, which runs from 29 September to 6 October, Salvos Stores is spreading the word about its Big Spring Clean promotion. All of us are being encouraged to clean out our unwanted clothes and take them to the Salvos instead of binning them. Together, we can make a dent in the estimated 6,000 kg of clothing dumped in landfill every 10 minutes.
When we do this we are also making a positive difference to thousands of people, with the profits going into Salvation Army programs that are helping change lives. And by making available affordable, quality clothing, people doing it tougher than usual can buy and wear outfits that help them maintain their dignity while fitting their budget.
This Op Shop Week you can join the Salvos Stores team in making a difference.
And it’s not just shoppers who are reaping the benefits. Salvos Stores provide opportunities for people to get involved and give back to the community while developing their own skills. Across Australia, around 17,000 volunteers give up their time to help keep things running.
For many of them, it allows them to gain practical experience that leads to employment within Salvos Stores and other industries. In addition to this, many volunteers speak about other benefits their volunteering brings. The sense of community they find and the relationships they build with other volunteers, staff and customers bring them deep fulfilment and joy.
Salvos Stores volunteers come from a huge variety of backgrounds and cover a large span of ages. There are retirees who still want to keep busy and whose experience is too good to lay dormant, along with students looking to find a way to practically help others become more environmentally conscious. For those making a new life in Australia, their volunteering allows them to become part of a community of new friends.
So while getting shopping bargains is important, Salvos Stores provide more for customers than just a chance to pick up a cheap fashion ensemble. It is a gateway for life transformation on numerous levels.
This Op Shop Week you can join the Salvos Stores team in making a difference. Your donations help preserve a healthy environment. The funds raised make life change possible for Aussies struggling with addictions, homelessness and domestic violence. Your volunteering adds immense value to all those you interact with.
The Salvos Stores Big Spring Clean can impact more than your wardrobe. It could change not only your life but also the lives of those doing it tough.
To find out more about Salvos Stores visit salvosstores.com.au (Vic., Tas., WA, NT, SA) or salvosstores.salvos.org.au (ACT, NSW, Qld).