When thinking of clothing, crafts, and toys, there are many steps we can take to reduce waste. Please read on for more information and resources:
According to The True Cost,, a documentary produced in 2015, the world consumes about 80 billion new pieces of clothing every year, which is 400 percent more than the amount we consumed two decades ago. Globally, the fashion industry brings in $1.2 trillion each year, with more than $250 billion spent annually on fashion in the United States (Joint Economic Committee, United States Congress).
As Americans purchase and bring home new textiles (clothing, footwear, accessories, towels, bedding, drapery, etc.), each resident also discards an average of 82 pounds of textile waste each year, amounting to 25 billion pounds of textile waste generated per year (Council for Textile Recycling).
Fast fashion sells cheap clothes, but has human, social, and environmental costs. What kinds of costs? An example of an environmental cost are chemicals such as chlorine and formaldehyde, and heavy metals (lead and mercury) that are discharged in millions of gallons of wastewater each year (Institute for Sustainable Communication).
How can companies keep prices so low? Many of the 40 million garment workers are overseas, and their wages are some of the lowest in the world.
- Ask yourself questions about why you’re shopping and buying new clothes:
- Do I need this and do I need it now?
- Was it made sustainably?
- Were the workers who made it treated well?
- Do I already own something that could serve the same purpose?
- Can I borrow one or find one used?
- Will it serve more than one purpose?
- Learn about the Fashion Revolution, which is a global movement calling for greater transparency, sustainability, and ethics in the fashion industry. You may have heard about Fashion Revolution Week or the campaign #whomademyclothes.
- Purge your closet. On the Be More with Less website, Courtney Carver shares how she finally cleaned out her closet for good, and replaced guilt with peace, frustration with joy, and fear with love by challenging herself to wear 33 items for 3 months including clothing, accessories and shoes.
Consigning is when you give your items to someone else to take care of, sell, and own until they are sold. Here’s a list of local consignment stores:
- Dress Up Consignment Boutique, 20575 Santa Maria Avenue, Castro Valley
- Norma’s Jeans, 20881 Redwood Road, Castro Valley
- Kids are People Too, 3326 Castro Valley Boulevard, Castro Valley
- Restore & Rework, 2572 San Carlos Avenue, Castro Valley
- Robin’s Nest Apparel, 3324 Village Drive, Castro Valley
- 2525 Vintage & Modern Resale Clothing, 22600 Foothill Blvd, Hayward
And when you’re out exploring the Bay Area, and are shopping for baby or children’s clothing, look for Kid’s Consignment Shops. Also, here’s a list of baby and children’s clothing consignment events:
- Just Between Friends– Livermore or San Mateo
- Outrageous Outgrowns– San Jose
- The Lollipop Market– Los Gatos
- Twin Valley Mothers of Twins Club – Pleasanton
- Twins by the Bay- Alameda
If you love arts and crafts and using your hands to work on new projects for yourself or others, you may sometimes feel overwhelmed by the sheer volume of supplies and materials available. Unfortunately, supplies such as foam, many plastics, and wood or paper that are covered in wood glue, duct tape, or stains/paints are destined for the landfill.
Create a craft that is easier on the environment, can be recycled or composted at the end of its life, or is well-made so it lasts a long time.
- Look around your home. What’s something you could deconstruct and make new again? Is there something hiding in the garage that just needs a fresh coat of paint or could be used as inspiration for your next project?
- Check out 25 Ways to Upcycle Your Old Stuff into something beautiful and functional. Is there outgrown or outdated clothing that could be used as fabric for another project? 12 Uses for Old Clothing offers twelve ideas such as turning an old sweater into a hat and mittens. 11 Innovative Ways to Repurpose Old Clothes gives new life to items such as t-shirts.
- Shop used. Visit a yard sale or local reuse store for gently used or donated supplies. Check out East Bay Depot for Creative Reuse in Oakland whose mission is “to divert waste materials from landfills by collecting and redistributing discarded goods as low-cost supplies for art, education, and social services in our Depot Store."
- Trade or swap. Maybe you have bins of older fabric and your friend has boxes of buttons that you’re each bored of and would like to see moved along. Ask a friend if they’d like to take something off your hands or swap supplies with you.
- Look outside!There are many found objects from nature that can be beautiful as an art material such as seed pods, wood sticks, shells, rocks, etc. Check out 8 Simple Ways for Children to Create with Natural Materials for projects such as Symmetrical Art, Letter Stones, Salt Art, or Weaving with Nature.
Opt for toys that have less packaging or no packaging at all. Choose toys that are the most durable and long-lasting so that you do not have to throw them away so soon. Buy toys that are more versatile and can do several different things.
Support recycled product markets by purchasing toys with recycled content materials.
Sell or donate your toys, after you are done with them, instead of throwing them away. Have a reuse swap event with extra toys to have fun trading with others.
If you are unable to sell, donate, or swap extra toys, consider repurposing them in some way by reading 25 Playful and Quirky Ways to Repurpose Kids’ Toys by DIYNCrafts.com.
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