We've Missed You
We know we are not the only ones who have been looking forward to the glorious day when we can re-open our Community Wardrobe.
You have no idea how many messages we have received since the beginning of this year from people who have had a good old clear out and want to give us all the things they no longer want.
Not just clothes, but books, jigsaws, household items too. So we have decided that - for a trial period - we will not limit our donations to clothes. We will take all those things you just don't want in your house any more.
So we are very excited, but we are also very nervous.
We have been longing to see our donations box filled to the brim once more, but we really don't want it to be filled with what can loosely be called 'rubbish'.
What you give us must be good quality. Before you add anything to the bag destined to come to us look at the item - not to see if it sparks joy a la Marie Kondo - but to see if it something somebody else might actually want. Our golden rule? If it is not good enough for you to pass on to your sister, your brother or your friend, please don't pass it on to us either (or should that be dump it with us?).
What do you imagine we do with holey, bobbly clothes, games with parts missing, casserole dishes that come complete with years' worth of grease? We can't give them to anyone else. We are in the business of helping those in need but no-one is in such a bad way that they will be grateful for chipped plates, colouring books that have already been coloured in or scribbled over or a pack of 51 playing cards.
Unfortunately, we have in the past, received bags containing all of the above.
It's a dilemma, and one we really need to tackle at source.
Why do we have so much stuff we want to get rid of?
Because we bought it in the first place.
Or maybe we were given it?
We need to stop the madness now and change our behaviour.
1. don't keep buying more and more
2. if you constantly receive gifts you don't want, ask people not to give you presents. There are other - dare we say better - ways to celebrate a birthday, life event or achievement.
OK, you say, got it. We can't give you really old past-it clothes. So we'll pop them in the clothing recycling banks all over town.
Well, unfortunately, that's not really the answer.
Where do those clothes then end up?
It is estimated than less than 20% of them can be re-sold in our charity shops. The rest are packaged up and sent halfway round the world where they are sold in second-hand clothes markets or recycled to make products like fleece or insulation.
HOWEVER, many countries no longer want our cast-offs. They, very reasonably, want to grow and establish their own industries.
No, we go back to our original argument. You need to buy less in the first place.
Remember, Reduce comes before Reuse, and Recycle comes last on the list. Recycling is very much a last resort. Sadly, many of the textiles we send for recycling are now of such poor quality - because manufacturers have cottoned on to the fact that customers are more interested in low prices than durability so they are making clothes of very inferior quality - that they are increasingly being incinerated, rather than reused in some way.
Added to that, clothes that are made from a mix of fibres are often impossible to recycle.
So when we open the Wardrobe doors we will be asking you to empty your donations bag so we can decide if we can take what you are offering.
Awkward? We accept it may be, but we feel that this is the only way for us not to be deluged with junk that we then have to dispose of. We should say that the vast majority of bags we receive are full of just what we are looking for, so as long as your bag contains good quality items that are not torn, broken or dirty, we will be over the moon to take them and get the contents out on display the following week.
Repeat after me:
If it's not good enough for my sister, brother, friend, it's not good enough for the Community Wardrobe.
A good alternative to recycling is, of course, reusing. We have been coming up with ideas for using scraps of fabric, so if you love the skirt, but accept you will never actually wear it again, you could use the material to make something beautiful that you will see - and appreciate - every day.
We have made handy how-to guides, so head over to the resources page of website and you might just find an idea you like, take a look here
Things like these:
We accept that short-term you may have to put some things in the recycling bank, even though we feel that is to a large extent just passing on the problem, but hopefully after that you will think more carefully about what comes into your house so the circle of buying then fairly quickly chucking out finally ends.
Better to buy one good quality jumper than spend the same amount of money on three cheap, shoddily-made garments that will not last. Of course, better still to buy that good quality jumper second-hand wherever possible.
Have you heard the saying that the average person only wears 20 - 30% of the clothes they own? Do you secretly, guiltily know that to be true yourself? Why not make the decision today that in future you will buy only things that you know suit you and suit your lifestyle - if you don't regularly go to grand affairs, you don't really need many cocktail dresses, no matter how beautiful they are. If you know you can't walk in high heels, why are you tempted to buy them?
And haven't we all been panicked into buying something new for a social event? Let's get into the habit of wearing something our friends and family may already have seen. Does that sound really radical to you? It shouldn't! Maybe the next time you receive a special invitation, you could look into renting an outfit rather than buying one you suspect you will only wear once. That's becoming an increasingly popular option and one that we intend to try out soon.
So, if all goes to plan there will be less to get rid of in the future, and what you do need to pass on will be good quality, well maintained items that will be welcomed into new homes.
OK, you can come out now. That's our lecture over!
We really hope we will see you at our Wardrobe soon. This week only, you can drop your donations off on Thursday between 11am and 4 pm, as well as while we are open on Friday, again 11 am to 4 pm.
We will be so happy to receive your good quality items (oh go on, say it one more time - good enough for your sister, brother, friend) and will be absolutely delighted when we see you leaving with your new-to-you clothes.
PS. we still need to limit the numbers visiting the Community Wardrobe so you need to book a slot. You can do that here
As long as the recovery from the pandemic stays on course, we will, once again, be open every Friday 11 am - 4 pm, and at the same times on the last Saturday of each month. You can drop off your donations during our opening hours, even if you are not planning to come in to the Community Wardrobe.
You can find out more about the issues around the clothes we throw away here.