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Is it ok to wear a dead person’s clothes?

Written by Jess

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I have a confession: I like to rescue clothes that have been abandoned on the street. I wash them and give them a new life. It makes me happy.

People don’t do that.

I’ve never met anyone else that does that.

Why?

Because there is a chance that the clothes will have been discarded because they are soiled, used to belong to someone who died (as do most vintage clothes!), have some substance on them that you shouldn’t touch, or maybe they were part of a crime scene!!

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The reality; people don’t care about clothes anymore.

People throw out 350,000 tonnes of clothing to landfills in the UK every year!

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Most of the time, we don’t see it happening.

The clothes that get chucked out get put in the inconspicuous black bin liners, that get thrown in bin lorries with the rest of the rubbish, and no one will ever see inside, apart from possibly the people that work at the landfill, who momentarily see what gets dumped onto the massive pile of other bags of rubbish.

Charity donations

Maybe someone will leave the clothes in a charity collection bag on the street. This has all good intentions, but there is a big problem here too. The charities can’t sell the amount of clothes they get, so (apart from Oxfam in the UK), if there is surplus stock, it will often get sent to landfills in the UK, incinerated or sent to countries like Ghana and Chile, which is causing considerable problems in those countries!  

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Or, if you live on my street, some people will pick up the nice clean bag of clothes left out for charities to collect, take them to a back alley, rip them apart, strew them all over the place looking for clothes they can use, and abandon the rest to rot where no one else will find them.

Luckily for this bag of clothes, the back alley of choice was also the entrance to my garage, so I found them, washed them and gave them another chance!

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*my end of the street is quite a nice place to live, but there is a popular route past my house, which, unfortunately, means (as I learned in my first few weeks of living here), you can’t leave charity bags of clothes outside.

Clothes are now worthless

Fast fashion, and the constant push from the media to have the latest look, means the value of clothes has reduced to nothing.

Pretty Little Things are a fine example of how they have helped drive this by exploiting their garment workers so much that they sell clothes for free on Black Friday!

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The future needs protecting

The system is broken, and the planet can’t cope with its effect. If you want to peak into what the future might look like for us, you can do so here.

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“The fashion industry is responsible for 10% of annual global carbon emissions, more than all international flights and maritime shipping combined. At this pace, the fashion industry’s greenhouse gas emissions will surge more than 50% by 2030.”

So, what can I do about it?

(Apart from building Used and Loved to help encourage people to choose to buy used over new more often), I can pick up the odd pile of abandoned clothes, give them a new lease of life, and let that spark my joy instead of spending all my money on shiny new things from the shops every month (like I used to)!

And if they used to belong to someone who died? I say let their souls live on vicariously through you 😊

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