For a long time, I told myself there was nothing wrong with shopping at Primark stores. When I was ‘grown up’ and had a real money paying job, there would be enough time for conscious consuming and more expensive stores. Fashion, shopping and expressing my identity through the clothes I wear is one of my biggest hobbies. So I wasn’t willing to compromise in that area. “And so what,” I told my grandmother, if the clothes were worn out after a year? There was a big change I wouldn’t wear them by then anyway.
But my views changed drastically this fall. It all started with a nice, cute Primark-blouse with little birds all over it. I was in heaven and named the piece my new interview blouse. Nevertheless, the fairy-tale wouldn’t last long. After one wash, the blouse shrunk to size extra small… The only duty left for the blouse was hanging outside my wardrobe being pretty. But then it struck me: my best friend has a more petite anatomy, perhaps I could do her a favour.
“But the wastefulness of consuming bad fabricated clothes is just as shameful”
The situation got me thinking. I was always silently apologizing to the little children who presumably made my Primark-clothes. But the wastefulness of consuming bad fabricated clothes, which only last one season before falling apart, is just as shameful. I always praised myself as a conscious consumer for buying less meat than average. But those clothes are also made of energy. Energy that should last longer than one wash. And if the clothes do not stay with me, because I grow bored of them, at least I should give them to a new owner. In this way, the way I consumed over the past four years, I was a big supporter of the linear economy. Most of the time, I didn’t even try to donate my torn clothes to charity. All my Primark clothes ended up at the waste disposal. This ought to change, I want to participate in a more circular economy.
Apart from an old army bag, I never really bought any second-hand or vintage clothes. Sometimes I swapped clothes with my sister, sure, but that’s it. Even though those stores are all the rage nowadays. So after the blouse-incident, I explored the options Leiden had to offer. I was surprised. For example, Hartendief, a new vintage store in the famous characteristic Breestraat, became one of my favourite stores – they even have a jar full of ‘lost’ Scrabble stones! But in Modejacht and Olive Oyl’s Rusty Zipper I also found some nice pieces. Last month I even visited the famous Vintage per Kilo-sales in Rotterdam, which travels through the Netherlands. How nice would it be if the next one was in Leiden?
“The only thing that could improve, is a pick-up service for old clothes in the way they pick up trash”
Fortunately, the municipality of Leiden understood the importance of circularity somewhat sooner than I did. They constructed a complete information brochure summarizing all ways to donate, sell or dispose your old clothes. They explicitly mention the thrift store Het Warenhuis – almost as nice as an IKEA – which also gets all the bikes, to patch up and sell, the municipality takes away in the citycentre. How wonderful is that! I’m grateful to live in a city that stimulates a longer lifespan and new purpose for ‘old’ clothes. The only thing that possibly could improve, is a pick-up service for old clothes in the way they pick up trash. Maybe this is some nice idea for the future? Although I still would have given the cute blouse to my friend!