Picture 7

 

GREEN RATING  Deep Green. Putting good clothes to better use.

SERVICE RATING  Good. Sales representatives are friendly and patient.  Equipped with a fitting room.  Locations are not that convenient though – far away from MTR stations.

LOCATION Headquarters:  No. 85 Stone Nullah Lane. Walk from Wanchai MTR exit A3. Phone 2831 3204.

Branch: UG shop 18-19, C C Wu Building, 302-308 Hennessy Road. Walk from Wanchai MTR exit A2. Phone 2110 3482.

WEBSITE http://greenladies.sjs.org.hk/

“Any used clothes for me to wear?”

One day in 2010, I posted the above message online.  Shortly afterwards, a few friends began to give me clothes (and handbags) that they no long wanted. From then on, apart from underwear and socks, I have not bought any new clothing.

When I used to shop for clothing, I always stuck to the same styles and colours, and it was pretty boring.  Now it’s becoming much more fun.  Every time I receive donated clothing from friends, I have a new look.

In addition to “adopting” used clothing from friends, I also go shopping at second hand clothing shops.  The Oxfam Shop located in the basement of Jardine House is very convenient for those who work in Central.  The shop is managed by volunteers, hence has a very easy going, relaxed feel.  One drawback though is the lack of a fitting room, which makes it much harder to figure out whether you can fit into a pair of pants.

In comparison, GREEN LADIES, a social enterprise set up by St. James Settlement is much more professional. Although it’s in an inconvenient locations, the shops are set up in the same way as other boutiques. Clothes are artfully displayed. Shoes are placed together according to size.  Handbags and jewellery occupy their own corner.  There is a fitting room for you to try things on.

These are my purchases.

IMG-20130622-00084

DKNY top, 100% silk, HKD128

IMG-20130622-01720

Very comfortable pair of shoes, HKD 88

You can donate your worn clothing to Green Ladies, or they can help you to sell them on consignment.

You may be wondering, why don’t I just put unwanted clothing into the recycling box? But do you actually know where these clothes will go?  And are we really helping the poor in the third world by sending them our worn clothes?

In The Travels of a T-Shirt in the Global Economy, an economist examines what happens to the tons of used clothing collected from these recycling bins. With the exploding popularity of fast fashion (Zara, H&M, Topshop, Forever 21, etc) we create more used clothing than the developing world can actually use. Only 15% of the clothing collected from theses boxes ends up being re-used or recycled. The other 85% is sent to the landfill or incinerated.

The author, being an economist, optimistically described how the worn clothes trade in Tanzania provides business and job opportunities to tens of thousands of Tanzanians.  She praised this as free trade, free from any governmental intervention.  Unfortunately this is not the whole truth.

The PBS documentary T-Shirt Travels tells the other side of the story. The influx of worn clothing from the developed world has destroyed the local garment manufacturing industry, leading to unemployment for thousands of local garment workers.  In the game of globalization, Zambia, Tanzania and other third world countries play the role of a dumping ground for unwanted chattels of the first world.

GREEN LADIES and other similar second hand clothing shops in Hong Kong provide an alternative for good quality used clothes. There is a market for used clothing in Hong Kong. There is no need to create carbon emissions shipping these (often inappropriate) worn clothing to the third world in the name of helping the poor.  The poor farmers do not need office attire or fancy party wear to work in the fields.

On a final note, please stop using the recycling box as an excuse to keep buying and getting rid of unnecessary clothing. Shopping is not therapy.