Tuesday, 18 October 2016

On Garment Waste

Organic Cotton Stripes

If you are a regular reader, you will probably know that I do love a stripey sailor top, especially if it is made from organic cotton and is in a fabulous colour, like orange perhaps. 

I was interested, then, when I noticed that my local Seasalt branch was having a sale recently. I popped in, with no particular intention of making a purchase and discovered this beauty on the sale rack: 

organic cotton sailor top

Brilliant Mistake

It turns out that this, and a bunch of other items were all reduced because they have flaws: tiny rips, buttons missing, small marks, that sort of thing. Well, naturally I headed straight for the checkout with my prize. I bet you didn't even notice the tiny mark either- it's barely even visible in the picture, despite the huge incriminating arrow!

seasalt cornwall organic top

Marks for Thought

This got me to thinking: why don't we see more slight second in shops like this? In short, I suspect it is because they are sent to be mulched before they even reach the shop floor, or worse- to landfill. There's nothing wrong with recycling of course when something has reached the end of its life, but how much better to offer people the choice? Surely it's up to the individual consumer whether a 'flaw' is acceptable to them or not? 

ethical stripe top

Thank you, Seasalt

So, thanks Seasalt for putting these less-than-perfect garments out there for us to make up our own minds, and giving items which have taken resources and energy all along the production line a chance to be used before they go to be recycled. 

responsible fashion

Could Try Harder?

I was pleased to be handed my top in a small paper bag. The paper comes from 'sustainably managed forests' which is great, but wouldn't it be better if it was recycled paper? The receipt was also handed to me in a quite a large piece of folded card, and on reflection I wonder whether this is at all necessary- especially as due to the nature of my purchase it was going to be un-returnable anyway... food for thought.


  1. I used to buy seconds fairly often as I can easily replace buttons, repair a seam, and so on. But it occurs to me that fewer people know how to make these small repairs, so it's likely seconds are more difficult to sell. Store owners see their valuable retail space being used for items that are less likely to sell, and ship them out. I'm not making excuses, of course, just facing the facts.
    In my family anything needing a repair comes to me. But it amazes me how quickly my students will throw out an item that could easily be fixed simply because there is no one who can make repairs. I've repaired quite few items for students, many of whom cannot afford to replace an item. They are always very grateful and I like teaching them that a needle and thread can save money and help the environment.

    1. Hi Mary, you are absolutely right about stores of course, but hopefully the seconds rail will make a come back! Good for you for being the family needlewoman, it's great that the art of mending is alive and well! Thank you for your comment :-)