Clothes for thought

I was in Tel Aviv with my family the other day and we came across this pile of old clothing.

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The sign says (as loosely translated by me):

The extravagant price of cheap fashion

This pile of clothing cost us only a few dollars. But what is the true price of the clothes we buy? Shopping is fun, and finding bargains is even more fun. We don’t need to think a lot, after all we can just buy all the colors, and why not an extra pair of pants even if we don’t exactly need them, because hey, it’s incredibly cheap especially at the end of the season, and it makes us feel good to bring our old stuff to Wizo or another charity shop.

But there is another price to cheap fashion, which we don’t readily see.

Cotton is reaped in Uzbekistan, which is sent to India and turned into dyed cloth, which is sent to Bangladesh and turned into clothing, which is sent to us and shows up in our stores. How easy it is for us not to think about the real price of our blouse, about the workers that receive 50 cents for a day of work, about the pollution and resulting disease that comes from an artificially cheap manufacturing process, which doesn’t take into account the people living close to the factories. But this cost exists, albeit on the other side of the world, far, far away.

So next time that you buy a cheap item you don’t need, perhaps ask yourself:

From where did it come? How is it made? Who made it? Where does the profit go? What is the influence of the manufacturing process on the environment, people, the world? Do I really need this piece of clothing? How much happiness will it really give me? An hour? Two hours? A day? A week? A month?

Think a moment about the price.

Ask more.

Buy less.

Together we will create change.

[This is installation represents the half ton of clothes that are donated to Wizo’s donation center every hour. The proceeds from Wizo’s sale of donated goods go to help populations at risk. The clothes not sold to the public are sold to recycling.]

I can attest to the fact that a the local Israeli charity shop where I worked for two years (not Wizo but similar), we typically sold over one ton of clothes to a recycling firm every month. Only approximately 15% of donated clothing makes it to the selling floor, and not of all that sells. The message is not new but it needs to spread.

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