Green Initiatives, with support from Crown Worldwide Group, organized their 3rd clothes sorting party on Saturday, 26th May 2018. This activity saw over 80 volunteers spend their day sorting through piles of clothes collected from the recycling boxes and warehouses of partners of RE: FORM.
Further, employee volunteers from Citi China, Crown Worldwide, Kleeklee / ZucZug and PwC Shanghai participated in the activity, along with enthusiastic community volunteers. Over the course of the day, about 30 cubic meters of clothes, books, electronics and other kinds of textile waste – roughly equivalent to a 20-foot ocean shipping container, were sorted out; thus preventing these items from ending up in the landfill, and in the case of clothes, further extending their life.
(This is what a 20-ft shipping container looks like)
Joan Elizalde, founder of Green Steps, and a close partner of Green Initiatives conducted an interactive workshop with the participants to further raise awareness of the problem. He led the entire session and worked with the volunteers to sort the clothes into different categories according to age, gender, seasonality and usability. BlueSky4Children, a non-profit organization whose missions is to provide children in rural China with all-season clothing, was also present at the sorting party and were able to find kids clothes to match their targeted donation program.
Through GI’s partnership with BlueSky4Children and Feimayi, the sorted clothes will be shipped to different parts of the country for any of these purposes: donation to children in need of these items, recycled – where the clothing quality is too low for re-use, downcycled to make items of lesser value but various uses.
"This is my first time to participate in a clothes sorting event, and I was really overwhelmed with the volume of clothes collected. Textile waste is a really serious issue in China"
- Fiona Zhao, community volunteer
A key point to note is that the discarded textile waste category was the largest of the entire lot. Volunteers found many boxes of textile samples and brand-new clothes cut or shredded by clothing brands, either because they did not meet the required quality standards or they were excess inventory that could not be sold.
Just imagine how many people could have been clothed with these samples!
Participating in the Clothes Sorting Party, we have a clearer understanding of the way we dispose the excess clothes, how the donated clothes are sorted and where they will go.
- Wang LiPing, Kleeklee / ZucZug Fashion
Other interesting findings that popped up were a wedding gown, a full box of untouched company uniform and many clothes with their tags still intact.
This is the second time i joined the sorting party and I enjoyed both times very much. I am so proud to work along with my colleagues to help sorting out the donated items and repacking them to be delivered to those who really need them. Also it gave me a chance to review my own consumption habit and take my actions to protect the environment.
- Xuan Wang, Citi China
While the event was quite light hearted and the participants had a lot of fun sorting through the clothes, it did leave them with a lot to think about. Spending an entire day amongst piles of clothes left people pondering how they could slow down and be more conscious about their own purchase choices. Where do we draw the line between want and need?
The fact that the quantity of women’s clothing collected was more than all of the men’s, kids, shoes and toys put together, left people wondering if why the fast fashion brands continue to sell their products through the idea of ‘more is good’ and/or ‘fashion changes every week’!
What You Can Do Next
- Buy less!
- Swap your clothes with friends and family
- Be crafty and creative to sew or fix your torn clothes
- Donate unneeded clothes to drop-off locations all over town
- If you do need more clothes, support second-hand clothes stores
- Participate in the next RE: FORM sorting party
- Spread the message with people around you
Please read this article by Green Initiatives to further understand the state of the industry: Recycling is NOT the solution, it is the LAST option!
About RE: FORM
RE: FORM was launched by Green Initiatives in December 2016 with the aim to change consumers’ mindset about fast fashion and the way we dispose of our excess clothes. The project is being implemented in various schools and companies based in China through awareness sessions (film screenings, workshops, interactive activities, etc) combined with a responsible textile waste collection system.
The Shanghai office of the Crown Worldwide Group has been participating with Green Initiatives on this initiative ever since the project launch and handles the entire project logistics.
If you would like your organization to support the project please write to firstname.lastname@example.org
More details may also be found at www.greeninitiatives.cn/reform