November 15, 2021

Sorry, we can’t Accept your Garbage.


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“Instead of trying to understand who we really are, we reach for the “real thing.” And when the goods we buy fail to match up to those deep desires, instead of giving up on material goods, we just keep banging our heads against the wall and buying more.” ~ James Wallman, Stuffocation


“I’m sorry, I’m afraid we can’t accept your clothing donations. We have way too much.”

My jaw hit the floor of the local church basement sale this week, the place where I normally hand over most of my donations.

Are you kidding me?

“Nope. Sorry, kiddo. We can’t keep up with the supply…come back next month.”

Could this really be happening? Could we have overloaded the charity shops and donations centres with our discarded garbage?

Yes, of course it’s happening. Yes, of course this is our new reality.

Truthfully, I saw this coming years ago after attending the WEAR conference in Toronto organized by Fashion Takes Action. During this conference, we watched a documentary presented by an executive of Savers (Value Village) during which ginormous bales of old, secondhand clothes were being shipped off to third world countries. To be honest, it was disheartening and gross to watch. It not only brought tears to my eyes, it made me shun shopping altogether during that trip—even the cool vintage and thrift shops that usually call my name. Frankly, I had seen enough. Way too much, in fact.

But as long as charity shops keep accepting our discarded stuff with open arms, are we truly learning the lessons? We can continue merrily on our way, always buying more, because some place will accept the things we choose to no longer wear, right?


The planet no longer has the capacity to hold space for our stuff. It’s that simple.

So how to resolve this crisis?

You don’t need to shop for anything new.

There’s way more than enough secondhand stuff to go around and then some.

We are shipping off our garbage to countries who don’t want nor need our old Coca-Cola or rock band T-shirts. And now, our local church basements can’t handle the overflow. It’s clearly a sign that it’s time to take the load off our planet. In his great book, Stuffocation, James Wallman mentions says: “In that system, where more is always better, you can never have enough…”

We got ourselves into this mess and now we can get out of it. Together, one less item at a time.

So the next time we decide we “need” something, we must think twice, then head to our local thrift store, vintage shop, or even the Thred Up platform, and find something that already exists and give it a second life.

Mother Nature thanks you. And so does the kind lady at the church bazaar.

“Life is not about having things. It’s about having good experiences.” ~ James Wallman, Stuffocation

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