Rethreading your wardrobe can help the world

  • What a waste: the average consumer throws away 70lbs of clothing and shoes annually instead of recycling, with the vast majority going to landfill sites (File photograph)

    What a waste: the average consumer throws away 70lbs of clothing and shoes annually instead of recycling, with the vast majority going to landfill sites (File photograph)

There has been a lot of buzz on the internet regarding the evils of the “rag trade”, particularly the working conditions that some Third World garment workers are subjected to and the global environmental impact of the clothing manufacturing industry in general.

As you might suspect from my surname, I have always supported the idea that islanders should “buy Bermuda” whenever possible, but I also believe that we should make every effort to incorporate an element of recycling, upcycling and sustainability into our wardrobes whenever possible and, as best possible, encourage merchants to make these items accessible whenever possible.

If you doubt that this is an issue worth considering, it might surprise you to learn that EDGE Fashion Intelligence estimates that the average consumer throws away 70lbs of clothing and shoes annually (instead of recycling) and the vast majority of this is going to landfill sites. In Bermuda, almost all textiles are imported meaning that anything that we don’t manage to recycle becomes waste. I don’t know about you, but 70lbs of waste seems like a lot when there are so many fun, useful and money-saving ways to repurpose many of our used clothing items.

At the risk of stating the obvious, Bermuda now boasts some first-rate second-hand and consignment stores. By giving your “gently” used items to The Red Cross, Pals Charity Shop or The Barn, not only are you doing your part for the environment, you are also helping your bargain-conscious neighbours step out in style. And if you find yourself tempted to peruse the racks after you drop off your donation, all I can say is “Good for you!” Every dollar that you spend in these establishments goes to support very worthy causes and that new scarf or T-shirt that followed you home will make friends with the items in your closet in no time at all. To really take this to the max, pick out a couple of oversized shirts or dresses and use the fabric to reincarnate them as summer clothes for your kids or a cute beach cover-up for yourself.

For the slightly more profit-minded, gather up your designer labels, that dress you ordered online that didn’t fit and that sweater you received from your ex and never wore, and head on over to Orange Bay on Victoria Street — the mecca of upscale rethreading. With heaps of “BoHo” style and price points to suit even the most meagre budget, Orange Bay gives you the option to consign your goods, indulge in socially responsible shopping and experience the fun of putting a few dollars in your pocket all at the same time.

Got worn out items you can’t bear to part with? Not to worry there is a YouTube project out there just waiting to be found. Think patchwork quilt, braided rag rug, or designer sofa cushions yet to be. Even your extra tattered jeans can take on new life as a reusable tote bag, pencil case, or mini skirt for your daughter — all you need is a little imagination, a hand-drawn pattern on a brown paper grocery bag and away you go. And while you are at it, don’t forget that all of your disused costume jewellery and extra buttons are just a glue gun’s length from becoming chic new belt buckles and hair accessories.

Who knows, you might even discover that you have the flair for designing cool stuff and turn your rethreading adventure into a table of wares at Harbour Nights or the Dockyard Craft Market, putting a smile on your face and your bank account.

Robin Trimingham is an author and thought leader in the field of retirement who specialises in helping corporate groups and individuals understand and prepare for a new life beyond work. Contact her at, 538-8937 or

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Published Apr 16, 2019 at 8:00 am (Updated Apr 15, 2019 at 8:17 pm)

Rethreading your wardrobe can help the world

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