Too Easy To Toss Our Stuff

The Ragtag Daily Prompt this morning is CINCH.

Since few people ride a horse today, the first definition of CINCH: a strap that fastens around the horse’s belly and holds the saddle of a horse, is not so commonly known.

The second meaning, something easily done, is still in use, but other expressions have crowded in. You’ll often hear, “It was a breeze” or “a snap,” “easy-peasy,” “a cakewalk” or “a piece of cake.” Merriam-Webster lists one I haven’t heard, “duck soup.”

I can’t imagine what’s so easy about duck soup, but no one asked me before making it up.

I do know one thing that has become far too easy— I was reading a post about it yesterday. It’s a shame to us in North America just how easy this has become.

Our North American dilemma: What to do with the clothing we’ve worn five-ten times and now it’s SO out of fashion we have to get rid of it?

Oh, that’s a cinch! Donate it to some second hand clothing store like Value Village, Goodwill, or some charity shop. And feel good. “Some needy person…” and all that.

Sad to say, only about 20% of the clothing that’s donated is sold. So what do they do with the 80% of the used clothing  they can’t sell? Easy-peasy. Bundle it up and send it to some third-world country. And feel good. “Some needy people…etc.”

According to this article — Click HERE to READ — the U.S. sends away over a billion pounds of used clothing every year, mainly to East Africa. And having been manager of an MCC Thrift Shop myself, I can verify that here in Canada we aren’t doing anything different; what we couldn’t sell we packed up and sent to the local Value Village, or to one woman who collected our stuff, bundled it up, and sent to her African home country.

It’s not hard to grasp that countries like Kenya, Rwanda, and Uganda are feeling SWAMPED and are actually considering banning our stuff. Oh NO! If they won’t take it, we’ll have to make more and bigger landfill sites.

Many voices are raised in protest against pollution and global warming, but we are the recipients of, the ones whose lifestyle is supporting, all this pollution. I read an article a few days ago about the industrial wastes produced in China — and dumped into a huge toxic tailing pond — to make the components for our cell phone and other electronics. Yet the demand continues around the world for newer and better.

I’ve read many articles insisting, or wailing, that “The government needs to do something…” But I’m thinking the answer to cutting back on pollution may be found where we don’t want to look: in our own personal budget. Cinch it a bit. (re: def #1)

Do take time to read this article. I think the writer is giving a good overall picture, plus some practical answers with regard to choosing clothing for long-term wear. And I don’t want to discourage anyone from recycling by making charitable donations; this avenue is definitely worthwhile. Sales generate income for various charitable organizations.

The bigger problem I’m seeing is that we’ve built our world on consuming. Things aren’t built to last. And what would stores do if they couldn’t sell us all that stuff we’re going to throw away? Businesses would go bankrupt; workers would be laid off. Even a short-term dip like production in China slowing down because of the Coronavirus has led US and Canadian banks to drop interest rates in order to stimulate the economy.

How to get back from this point, that is the question. Would a grassroots movement work or wreak havoc? Could each of us do more to stop pollution by buying less new stuff, without throwing the country into a major recession? Important questions to ask. Yet it seems most of us have the vague sense that somehow, someday, our consumption-driven society is going to crash.

11 thoughts on “Too Easy To Toss Our Stuff

  1. This post gave me pause. I’m slowly dropping some pounds, about 40 at the present. So I’ve bagged up my biggest things, that are way too big now, and put them in those boxes you see all over here in the States. Donating to the poor makes me feel better about getting rid of clothes I’m determined NEVER to have to use again. The good news? I’ve kept a lot of things two or three sizes down from where I am now, and they’re classics that will never be out of style. It’s like going shopping in my closet 🙂 I won’t need to buy much, if anything, for quite some time.

    Knowing that some African countries are overflowing with our cast-offs is rather sobering.

    I see ads on TV now and then about how to sell your “Old, unused” clothing and get lots of money for it–enough to pay for a wedding, a car, an expensive vacation. I don’t understand that. These ads are talking about clothing that is worn only a couple of times; shoes that were worn for a special occasion, then never again; next-to-new outfits that turned out not to be exactly what the buyer expected. These folks live on a whole different plane than I do. I wear my shoes OUT! I mend things. Re-hem them, sew on new buttons. My purses are for life, unless they actually fall apart. Coats? Again, classics that will not go out of style. By the time my things are ready for recycling, not many other people would really care to wear them!

    Well, I grew up with Depression-era parents who didn’t know how to waste anything. It’s actually a pretty good way to live 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I did, too. And we shopped at the Salvation Army. Actually most of my bought clothes come from second-hand shops. Like you, I don’t live on a budget that can afford fashions disposed of after several wearings.

      The thing is, some of the folks who wear a dress or pair of shoes once are the same folks expressing concerns about the environment. Add two and two here. Industries use up natural resources and generate streams of pollutants to manufacture the short-lived fashions and gadgets we’re demanding and then dumping.

      I think our grandparents understood that it was up to them to save and recycle; no one was going to do it for them. Thanks for your comment.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your interesting thought. We can see where they got to. 🙂

      i believe if we want to start “shrinking” for a change, we must do it in small steps. One biggie in my mind would be buying things made in our own country and supporting — where necessary, even insisting on — our own industries. Pollution-control and labour costs would be high, which would cut down the amount of things we could purchase.

      Folks may wail about environmental problems and fuss about pipelines and dams —that would help us in the long run — but as long as we want lots of cheap disposables, they will be made in countries that ignore pollution worries. So we support pollution with one hand and wave the environmental banner with the other.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. According to this article, a fair bit of the clothing ends up being shredded and used as filler in mattresses, house insulation, and such. Only a portion is shipped off — so you can imagine how much excess there is all totalled.

        My grandma made blankets, too. Not all fabrics are suitable for blankets; synthetics like polyester are hard to use for anything because they fray so bad. Knits, esp the old double-knits, work well for rag rugs.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I do some shopping at Value Village. It’s sometimes hard to admit when I’m around a fashionable friend, but when they compliment me on a piece of clothing that I’ve gotten there, I feel I’m doing my bit to keep something out of the landfill.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your comment. As I said above, I shop at Value Village and the local charity shops for sweaters, jackets, and some bedding. I was there on Monday — and saw all the rows and rows of clothing, most of which will never sell. Perhaps it should be incinerated rather than packed up and shipped off to other countries where our excess destroys their garment manufacture and sales?

      Liked by 1 person

  3. To buy or not to buy. It seems we are damned if we do and damned if we don’t. I know someone who uses scraps of clothes to make quilts, but I doubt her meagre efforts will do much to solve the problem. A thought-provoking piece indeed Christine.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you. Yes, we have shopped ourselves into a very fragile world. I realize there’s no easy solution, just bit by bit backing up. By the time you owe another country a few billion in trade deficit dollars, you must tread prudently.
      Or we can continue as is and skip all this “Save the environment” anguish.

      Liked by 1 person

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