sustainable, clothing, consumer behavior

Document Type

Proceedings Abstract



The Clothing Swap: Social, Sustainable, and Sacred

While there is much focus on recycling household waste such as paper, plastic, and metal, there is less focused attention on the waste produced by clothing and textiles. As noted by Joung (2013), consumers dispose of clothes by recycling, donating to charities, or giving to friends and family. But when individuals are not motivated to do this or are unaware of recycling options, they simply discard unwanted clothing where it ends up in landfill sites.

Motives for recycling clothes can range from altruistic (e.g., donating to a clothing drive for the poor or victims of a natural disaster) to economic (e.g., selling clothes online, at a consignment shop or donating to obtain a tax deduction). Yet other individuals might be motivated by concern for the environment. Patagonia, an outdoor clothing retailer, appeals to this motivation with its reuse and recycling initiatives. Consumers are encouraged to send in their worn out Patagonia clothing for repurposing or recycling and to buy used Patagonia clothes. In an unusual twist, Patagonia’s Black Friday advertisement in the New York Times in 2012 proclaimed “Don’t buy this jacket” with an explanation of the natural resources and environmental costs of manufacturing one of their jackets (Patagonia 2015).