The Goodwill Guilt

Stock Image via Canva

I recently took a challenge to minimize my life, starting with my closet. While I was researching on where to start, I stumbled upon Courtney Carver’s Project 333. I thought it was interesting, 33 items only (including shoes) for 3 months without buying anything new.

That meant taking clothes from grade 7 onward and finally reducing my closet. “I’ll just give it to Goodwill,” I thought. Why not? That’s what all of us in the States do. It’s what we depend on when we want to clean out our house and closets out. Goodwill is our escape mechanism to justify our consumerism.

But it made me wonder what really happens after our clothes go to Goodwill? In the land of Ponies and Unicorns, of course, we would like to think that all our used goods will sell or go to a good cause but obviously, that’s not the case. So where do our used goods go?

I took it to the internet. After finding horrific pictures and articles of how most of our stuff ends up in dumpsters anyways and reading about the amount of toxic waste is in our clothes, I was feeling incessantly guilty. I learned facts such as how the fashion industry is the second highest pollutant after plastic in the world.

This for That Closet is an India based app that promotes exchanging clothes from each other’s closet instead of buying new goods.

How could I in good faith be contribute to this? So, I did the next best thing, I took a set of clothes and listed them on eBay/depop & poshmark, for extremely cheap prices. But they didn’t sell. What do I do now? Hoard my clothes forever until I somehow find someone to give them to? My mind instantly flashed to when I was younger — my donation box was my younger sister or cousins.

I couldn’t help but think what technologies could help us out here? Blockchain — using a public ledger system and being able to track exactly where are our clothes are going and where we get them from. “Another good use for technology,” I thought.

But by this time, I had 18 bags of items: books, clothes, shoes, bags, DVDs that I wanted to get rid of, with nowhere else to really turn except for Goodwill. Although I am thankful for organizations such as Goodwill, for giving us an outlet to doing good, I’ve realized how much of a dependency I have on them and use as an excuse to buy new things.

I needed to stop my consumerism addiction. It was fate that sent me to Courtney’s website because it was the first step to stop buying things that I didn’t need.

I buy new clothes constantly, especially for my fashion blog and now it was weighing heavily on my mind. I took an oath to become more fashion conscious, to buy less and stick to a minimal lifestyle, find ways to be creative with the clothes that I already had, and to start being brand conscious when I do NEED new items.

Illustration by Sarah Lazarovic