有衫倘賣嘸?

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1992 / 10月

文‧謝淑芬 圖‧黃麗梨


在民間團體抵制過度包裝的強力聲浪下,台北人今年過了一個「環保中秋」。

 

禮品、月餅被鼓勵減量包裝;換季拍賣中,成山堆疊的成衣又如何?人,是不是也被「過度包裝」了呢?搶購者手上大包小包的新衣,過季之後,又將繼續什麼樣的旅程?


根據行政院主計處統計,台灣民眾在衣著鞋襪及服飾用品的花費,佔總支出比例的百分之四.六,遠高於花在家庭器具及設備上的費用(約百分之三),顯然大家裝飾自己的興趣的確偏高。

而台灣地區平均每人每年要丟棄十一公斤的舊衣,總量超過兩萬公噸,佔目前纖維布類垃圾量的三成左右,若採掩埋處理,至少需要五萬坪土地。

纖維布料不但體積大,有些化學材質和塑膠、保麗龍一樣,要經過數百年才能腐化。這類物質也容易起火燃燒,常成為垃圾場的火災禍源。

而一般說來,一件衣服的壽命至少可維持四、五年到一、二十年,尤其在紡織業技術發達、材料日益改進的今天,衣服越來越不易磨損,舊衣過剩的問題於是愈發成為主婦的煩惱。

到府回收舊衣

約自三、四年前起,公寓、大樓的家門口會不定期地貼上一張「×月×日到府回收舊衣」的海報或傳單。

主婦們如聞佳音,展開衣櫥大掃除,將過季的衣物清理、捆紮好,按時放在家門口等待「回收」。

至於大包小包的衣服堆上卡車,漸行漸遠之後,去向何處呢?說是「回收」,總要延續利用,減少環境負擔;面對各種名目不同、心態互異的「回收團體」,主婦們多半只當「功德」一件,相信它們是捐給了孤兒院、養老院之類的慈善機構了。

「事實上,近年來連孤兒院也衣物過剩」,大乞丐慈善中心一位義工表示,由於舊衣量過大,加上台灣紡織工業發達,許多成衣工廠定期將存貨捐給慈善機構,已令他們難以消化。

因此,一些舊衣回收機構仿效美、日的作法,開始把舊衣物分類處理,捐贈給經濟發展較落後,或物資較匱乏的地區。

從「美援」到「台援」

以美國為例,自一九五七年,美國環保單位開始推行垃圾分類時,將紡織品列為第一種資源回收品,舊衣收集後,就運送到全世界去救濟較落後的國家。卅五年前正值台灣光復初期,民生用品工業尚未建立,便曾受惠。如今美國每年出口約四十萬噸舊衣。日本也因紡織品廢棄物嚴重危害環境,而展開回收舊衣工作。

在目前十幾家的舊衣回收機構裡,佛濟慈善基金會是其中發起較早、也頗具規模的一家。而從事建築業的負責人洪錦進,小時候就曾受美援衣物之惠。

「十歲前沒穿過新衣,身上穿的都是村中教堂發的『二手衣』」,他表示,五年前他住在台北民生社區,和太太在附近散步時,常在路口的垃圾收集站裡,看到一包包被丟棄的舊衣服。在這個高收入住宅區,那些被丟棄的舊衣,其實大多並不舊。這讓曾在未開發國家工作及旅行、目睹過許多地區居民仍窮得衣不蔽體的他惋惜和感慨不已,因而成立財團法人慈善基金會,開始回收舊衣。

加入「外星寶寶」的行列

基金會很快受到響應,舊衣如潮湧來,有時一天達十幾噸,幾個月就堆滿一個地下室。如今數量更是有增無減,平均每年可收到八千至一萬噸衣物。

於是在桃園南崁的倉庫裡,長長的自動輸送帶將成堆舊衣物運上二層樓高的處理台,台旁數十名工作人員眼明手快地將同類的衣物挑選出來。一車車分類好的衣服再經由機械壓縮打包後,貼上青天白日滿地紅的國旗,裝入貨櫃,展開它們飄洋過海的旅程。

透過外交單位、國際慈善組織和各地華僑,它們有的到了菲律賓的貧民區;有的抵達非洲馬拉威境內的衣索匹亞難民營;有的則穿在泰國北部流亡自中南半島的孩子身上。去年大陸華東地區洪水為禍,國際紅十字會也向佛濟基金會申請了兩個貨櫃舊衣,讓災民過冬。

佛濟並仿效美、日作法,建立長期且固定的回收管道,除了不定期舉辦舊衣回收活動外,在高雄、台南、新竹等地都設了收集站。今年,在台北也開始定點設置回收車廂,每天收集、運送舊衣。

當抹布和工作服

基金會企劃經理褚鳳珠表示,在回收的舊衣中,約有二成嚴重污損無法使用的廢料。這些廢料可以利用碎棉機絞碎,製成再生棉或再生布,做為沙發、椅墊等的填充物或地毯。但是進口碎棉機費用昂貴,基金會目前還沒有這樣的設備,只能讓這些廢料最後還是回到垃圾掩埋場,使回收工作打了折扣。

「舊衣再利用的空間其實很大」,台灣省廢棄物運銷合作社副總經理史碩仁指出,它們可以裁成抹布賣給工廠擦洗機器,或提供黑手行業和營造業當工作服,又可以獲利。一些拾荒業者和民間團體因此以營業為目的,投入舊衣回收行列。只是,為求收衣順利,他們也打著慈善的名義,不免有讓人混淆難分之嫌。

此外,用做工廠清潔抹布或工作服,耗損大、油污厚,回到垃圾場後,會成為更難處理的廢棄物。

站在環保單位的立場,眼前環保問題千頭萬緒,只要民間團體肯投入回收行列,自然無分優劣,均表歡迎。然而,歸根究柢,任何廢棄物即使回收有方,仍不如根本從「減量」做起。

拍賣別瘋狂

「我們的服裝汰換率太高了」,長期關注環保問題的作家韓韓指出,許多人家中衣櫃愈來愈大,出門還是喊著「少一件衣服」。

在她看來,理性消費和延長衣服的使用壽命是減量的主要原則。除了不在大減價時瘋狂採購,懂得保養與搭配衣服,使她的每一件衣服至少可以穿上七、八年,甚至與兩個女兒換穿,也為初出社會的女兒省下一筆可觀的置裝費。

至於搭配之道,「打開衣櫃,所有衣服的顏色、式樣都很調和,能互相配置」,曾在服裝上「繳過學費」的她根據經驗表示,「越是獨一無二,讓人印象深刻、一見難忘的衣服,穿出去的機率越少,束之高閣的可能性也越大。」

富過三代,才懂穿衣吃飯,雖然選配衣服的哲學需要學習,不能一蹴可幾,但「惜物」和「利用厚生」一向為中國傳統,回顧以往物質匱乏的生活經驗,其實不難在日常中發現減量方法。

互換使用,延長壽命

像近幾年國內出現專賣二手貨的服飾店,對買賣雙方都有利。他們販賣一些穿過一、二次,可是仍然完好如新的衣飾,其中不乏名牌,價格卻只要原價的一、二成,對上班族來說,經濟且實惠。業者程元珍表示,她的顧客群即以服飾需求量大的上班族為主,供需雙方都很滿意。

二手服飾的買賣是一種互換使用,在環保風氣大盛的今天,有些上班婦女也在辦公室同仁之間定期互換,尤其是孩子的制服。

由於發育中的孩子衣服汰換率相當高,訂做的學校制服索價不低,但往往每隔一、兩年就要換新,成為舊衣中比例最大的部分。主婦聯盟的媽媽會員之間便常互相交換孩子的制服。她們一舉兩得地避免了處理過程產生的環保問題,也省下一筆家用。

「在國外還有許多跳蚤市場、舊貨中心及車庫拍賣的場合,都可以買到便宜、品質也不差的衣服」,主婦聯盟會員呂淑芳旅居美國時,為了節省生活費即常光顧這些地方。她的婆婆也會將廢棄的衣服,裁成娃娃衣服或做杯墊、踏墊等物。

除了延長使用,謹慎選擇衣服的質料與顏色,也都可以減輕環境的負擔。

像棉、麻等自然質料,掩埋時就比化學纖維容易腐化;自然原色或中性的顏色,在染色過程中也較少造成污染。至於許多打著環保訴求,推銷所謂「綠色消費」的廠商,如果只是在服飾上印些花花綠綠的動、植物,消費者就要辨明它的「綠色」、或「消費」目的了。

敬天惜物,利用厚生

不過是卅年前的台灣,在每個風和日麗的星期天早晨,媽媽帶著幾個蘿蔔頭上教堂作完禮拜後,興高采烈地捧回幾袋麵粉、奶粉或舊衣服。

當年,鄉下的孩子不只穿著美國民眾捐助的舊衣,連裝麵粉和米的棉布袋,用完後還讓媽媽改成汗衫、短褲。小傢伙的開檔褲上,很可能剛巧就會出現「中美合作,淨重廿公斤」的字樣,至今傳為笑談。

如今,在遙遠的國度裡,也開始有小朋友穿起來自中華民國「××國小三年甲班張全福」的制服。

鼓勵大量消費的時代畢竟過去了。從「美援」到「台援」,除了由匱乏受惠到富裕回饋的成就感,找回中國人敬天惜物、利用厚生的傳統性情,也該是舊衣回收時潮下的本意罷。

〔圖片說明〕

P.112

舊衣回收蔚為風潮,定點放置的舊衣收集車醒目地佇立街頭。

P.113

舊衣真麻煩!但送出去後就沒問題了嗎?

P.114

看似垃圾的舊衣其實大有用處。

P.115

分類、打包妥當,貼上國旗之後,它們將飄洋過海,穿在異國人身上。

P.116

「二手」名牌服飾店的興起,使得愛美人士有了衣物交流管道。

相關文章

近期文章

EN

Any Old Rags?

Hsieh Shu-fen /photos courtesy of Huang Li-li /tr. by Christopher Hughes

With civic organizations strongly opposing overpackaging, Taipei is going through an "environmentalist autumn."

There has been encouragement for less wrapping on gifts and mooncakes; but what about the clothes piled high in the seasonal sales? Are "people" being packaged too much? When the season has passed, what will happen to the packages of clothing being carried by the bargain hunters?


According to statistics from the Directorate General of Budget Accounting and Statistics of the Executive Yuan, 4.6 percent of the money spent by the people of Taiwan goes on clothing, shoes and accessories, higher than the 3 percent spent on household utensils and equipment. People obviously take more interest in tarting up their own appearances.

On average, the people of the Taiwan area every year throw away eleven kilos of old clothes each, making a total of more than 20,000 metric tons and about three-tenths of woven textile refuse. If all of this was buried, it would need at least 50,000 ping of land.

Not only is this is a lot of cloth, but some chemical ingredients, plastics and styrofoam take centuries to decompose. These materials are also highly combustible and are often the cause of fires at rubbish dumps.

On the whole, the length of life of an item of clothing can be anything from four or five years to ten or twenty. With technological developments in the textile industry, ingredients are constantly being improved, so that it is harder and harder to wear clothes out. Surplus old clothes are becoming more and more of a problem for housewives.

Recycling clothes from home: From about three or four years ago, posters and leaflets have been put on the doors of houses and the main entrances to high-rise blocks telling people the dates of collections of old clothes for recycling.

Housewives are delighted with this and open up their wardrobes for a big clean out. They sort out their unseasonal clothes, tie them in bundles and put them outside their doors at the appointed time for "recycling."

So where do all these clothes piled high on the trucks go to? The collections are always said to be for the purpose of extending use and alleviating the burden on the environment. Housewives wanting to do a good deed, faced by a number of organizations with a variety of aims and attitudes, believe they are making a donation to an orphanage or old people's home or some such beneficial organization.

"In fact, in recent years even orphanages have had a surplus of clothes," says a volunteer at the Tachikai Charity Center. This is because there are just so many old clothes, and when they are added to the regular donations given by Taiwan's advanced textiles industry, charity organizations have difficulties digesting them.

Because of this, some organizations for recycling old clothes have copied the Japanese and American method by starting to sort them for donation to less economically developed areas or places where there is a comparative lack of resources.

From U.S. Aid to R.O.C. Aid: Take the United States as an example: From 1957, when environmental agencies began to promote the separation of garbage, cloth items were the first kind of resource to be recycled and distributed to less developed parts of the world after being collected together. Thirty-five years ago, in the early days following Taiwan's retrocession, consumer goods industries had still not been established here and Taiwan benefited from this. Today the United States exports around 400,000 tons of old clothes annually. Japan has also begun to recycle old clothes due to the risks posed to its environment by waste from its textiles industry.

Among the present ten or more organizations recycling old clothes, the Fochi Charity Foundation began comparatively early and is a standard sized organization. Architect Hung Chin-chin is the organizer and once benefited from clothes donations from the United States in his childhood.

"I never wore new clothes before I was ten, only the secondhand clothes given out by the village church," he says. Five years ago, when he was living in Taipei's Minsheng Community and was out walking with his wife, he would often see bundles of old clothes put out at the refuse collection points at the ends of streets. In this high-income residential area, most of these discarded clothes were not in fact old. Having worked and travelled in undeveloped countries and seen many areas where people were too poor to buy enough clothes to cover themselves, he established a registered charitable foundation and began recycling old clothes.

Joining the garbage recyclers: The foundation drew a quick response with a flood of old clothes coming in. Sometimes there would be more than ten tons in a day. In a few months an underground room had been filled. The volume has still not abated today, with an average of 8,000 to 10,000 tons of clothes coming in each year.

In a warehouse in Taoyuan's Nankan, a long conveyer belt piles old clothing onto a sorting platform two stories high, where ten dexterous workers sort them into categories. As each truck load is sorted, the clothes are machine-packed into small bundles on which are stuck labels showing the ROC flag, then put into freight containers to begin their journeys overseas.

Passing through foreign relations organizations, international charities and overseas Chinese contacts, some of these packages arrive in poor areas of the Philippines; others arrive in the Ethiopian refugee camps of Africa; still others end up being worn by refugee children from Indochina in northern Thailand. When there were disastrous floods in eastern China last year, the International Red Cross applied to the Fochi Foundation for two containers of clothes to help the victims of the disaster get through the winter.

The Fochi Foundation is copying the methods used by the United States and Japan and laying down a long-term fixed channel for recycling. Apart from irregular holdings of recycling activities, they have also established collection stations in Kaohsiung, Tainan, Hsinchu and other areas. This year in Taipei they also began using a truck to collect old clothes at fixed places.

Rags and overalls: The foundation's general manager, Chu Feng-chu, says that about two-tenths of recycled clothes are wasted because they are too soiled to be used. This waste can be milled and turned into cotton or cloth again and used as stuffing for sofas and chairs or for carpets. But it is very expensive to import a milling machine and the foundation still does not have this kind of equipment, so in the end they can only send such waste to be buried at a garbage dump, which is a setback for recycling.

"The space for reusing old clothes is in fact very big," points out Shih Shuo-jen, deputy general manager of the Taiwan Province Garbage Disposal Cooperation Society. They can be cut up and sold as rags to factories for the cleaning of machines, or supplied as overalls for workers in dirty industries and enterprises. This enables some salvage companies and civic organizations to make business their aim, using the names of charities so they can get the clothes, which makes it difficult for people to tell the difference.

Apart from this, rags used for cleaning machines, and overalls, create a lot of heavily polluted waste which is even harder to manage when it gets to the garbage dump.

From the position of the environmental authorities, the problem of environmental protection is extremely complicated, and of course civic organizations are welcome to get involved in recycling clothes. Nevertheless, in the final analysis, any method that is used for recycling is still not as good as starting to reduce the volume.

Don't go mad at the sales: The rate at which we get rid of our clothes is too high," says the writer Han Han, who has for a long time been paying attention to environmental problems. Many people's wardrobes are getting bigger and bigger, but when they go out they still cry they are lacking in some item or another.

In her view, reasonable consumption and longer life for clothes are the important principles for reducing volumes. Apart from not going mad in the sales, understanding how to preserve and match clothes means that all her items can be worn for at least seven or eight years. She even swaps with her two daughters and has saved a lot of money for when her daughter first goes out into society.

As for her way of matching clothes, "Open the wardrobe and the colors of the clothes and their styles all match and complement each other." Having once paid study how to dress, she says that in her experience "the more unique and and impressive are the clothes, the less opportunities there are to go out in them, and the possibility of them being left on the top shelf and forgotten is also greater."

Only after three generations of wealth can you understand how to wear clothes and eat, although you still have to study to understand the philosophy of how to select and match. But valuing material things and using them to the full has always been part of Chinese tradition. Going back to the experience of material shortages, it is not difficult in fact to discover ways to cut down on the volumes of what we use in everyday life.

Exchange for use and prolonging life: Such is the case with the appearance of secondhand clothes shops in recent years, which are of benefit to both buyers and sellers. They sell clothes that have been worn once or twice but are still as good as new, some of them having famous brand names, but with a price that is a small fraction of the original. For office workers, this is a real economic benefit. Manager Cheng Yuan-chen says that her customers are mainly office workers who need a lot of clothes and that what she supplies satisfies both sides.

The secondhand clothes business is a kind of mutual exchange. With environmentalism being all the rage today, some mothers who work in offices fix times to make exchanges with their colleagues, especially of children's clothes.

The throw-away rate for school children is high and the price of uniforms insisted on by schools is not low, so every two or three years they need to have new ones, accounting for a large part of the number of old clothes. There often take place exchanges of uniforms between members of the Homemakers' Union. They thus kill two birds with one stone by avoiding producing an environmental problem as well as saving some of the housekeeping money.

"Abroad there are also many flea markets, old clothes centers and car-boot sales, where you can buy cheap and not bad quality clothes," says Homemakers' Union member Lu Shu-fang, who frequented such places while she was living and travelling overseas so as to cut down on living expenses. Her grandmother can also make old clothes into garments for dolls and other items.

Apart from prolonging use, careful selection of the material and colors of clothes can also lessen the burden on the environment.

Natural materials such as cotton and hemp decompose much more easily than synthetic fibres. Natural colors and medium colors also produce less pollution in the process of dyeing. As for those manufacturers who want to appeal to environmentalism and promote a "green consumerism," if all they do is paint a few green animals and plants on the clothes, the consumer should be clear about whether their objective is "green" or "consumer."

Respect nature and materials--use things to the full: On fine Sunday mornings in Taiwan 30 years ago, mothers would go off to church with their kids to happily collect some packets of flour, milk powder or old clothes.

In those times, children in the countryside only wore clothes donated by the American people and even the flour and milk-powder sacks would be made into vests and short trousers. The little chap with "U. S.-R.O.C. Cooperation--20kg" emblazoned on his trousers is still the subject of jokes.

Today in faraway countries little children have begun to wear uniforms from the R.O.C. with "XX Junior School Third Year Chang Chuan-fu" on them.

The age of encouraging mass consumption has finally passed. The move from "U.S. Aid" to "R.O.C. Aid," has given a feeling of satisfaction at having gone from a position of receiving charity to one of wealth and being able to make donations, but recovering the respect for nature and material things held by the Chinese people and the traditional sentiment of using things to their full, should also be the significance of the recycling of old clothes.

[Picture Caption]

Recycling old clothes is becoming the trend. Containers are placed on street corners at fixed places to make collections.

Old clothes are such a hassle! But do they cease to be a problem once given away?

What look like old rags can in fact be very useful.

Sorted, wrapped and marked with an R.O.C. flag they are sent overseas to be worn by the needy in other countries.

The rise of "secondhand" famous brandname clothes shops has provided natty dressers with a channel for exchange.

 

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