You be the judge: should my husband stop throwing away his ‘old’ clothes?
The prosecution: Martina
Jon bins perfectly good clothes as soon as they have a tiny hole or stain, which is so wasteful
We live in a society that doesn’t like repairing things. People just throw out clothes and appliances rather than trying to fix them, and my husband Jon is one of them.
He’s always been like this and I have pretty much accepted it, but it does annoy me. Sometimes I forget how wasteful he is until he does something reprehensible in front of me. The other day, he was getting dressed for work and pulled out a white shirt which had a tiny ketchup stain on it. He immediately said: “Oh, that’s going in the rubbish,” and put it straight in the bin. I was like: “What are you doing? You can just wash it.” He said it was pointless; the shirt was ruined.
I think that’s incredibly wasteful; you can easily take out stains with stain remover – the mark wasn’t even that big. Or the shirt could have gone to a charity shop, but when Jon gets something into his head, that’s it.
Once I found a pair of gym shoes in the recycling bin
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He throws out perfectly good shorts, trousers and shirts with tiny holes or minuscule stains. He wouldn’t be organised enough to sort through his items and donate them. Once I found a pair of gym shoes in the recycling bin. When I challenged him he said that there was a rip on the back. I took the shoes to a local cobbler and returned them to him. He was very grateful but said: “Why did you do this? It’s easier to buy new ones.”
Recently he dropped his Macbook and a couple of the buttons on the keyboard fell off. Instead of taking it to be repaired, he just ordered a brand new laptop. I lectured him on this too.
We make decent money as a couple and I suppose we can afford to buy new items every time something gets tatty, but I would prefer not to.
I think I am opposed to waste because I was raised in a working-class home, and my mum would always sew patches on my school jumper instead of buying a whole new one. So my brain is wired differently from Jon’s, who grew up with more money.
I’ll sometimes just get his stuff repaired for him, but I think Jon should learn to see the value in that himself.
The defence: Jon
There’s no point holding onto things you don’t want. I throw them straight in the bin
I don’t like wearing clothes that have stains or holes. It makes you look tatty and dirty. And I also think, what’s the point in holding on to things that you don’t want?
I like my wardrobe – and my life – to be full of things that I actually value. So when something is no longer providing value, I throw it out. It’s more efficient to live that way. I have an office job so I can’t wear dirty items, which is why I threw out the ketchup-stained shirt. Martina knows my job has a smart-casual dress code, so I’m not sure why she would want me to keep clothes that don’t cut the mustard.
Marina is more thrifty than I am and perhaps that’s because she grew up with less money than me
I also have no qualms about throwing out things that don’t suit me or are past their best. She says I can be wasteful, but I don’t really have the time to sort through my shirts and trousers every morning, seeing which ones are stained and which ones aren’t. I’d rather keep a collection of entirely clean clothes.
With the gym shoes that I threw out, perhaps I was a bit hasty. I did appreciate Martina getting them mended as it was just a little hole at the back. Though if I’m honest, I would probably never do that myself. I wouldn’t even know where to find a repair shop like that.
Marina is a little more thrifty than I am and perhaps that’s because she grew up with less money than me. She’s very good at stopping me from chucking things straight in the bin. She’ll say: “Hang on, someone will get a second wear out of that,” and then takes it to the charity shop. Of course I like the idea of donating clothes but I just don’t have the time. When something no longer serves a purpose it usually goes straight in the bin without a second thought.
But in regards to my broken laptop, I will defend my decision there. The keyboard didn’t work so I couldn’t use it at all, and it was easier to buy a new Macbook. I’m lucky that I can afford to do that, but Martina thought I was being ridiculous. I guess I could try to be a bit less wasteful and get more things repaired, but I will always prioritise saving myself time.
The jury of Guardian readers
Should Jon stop and think before throwing slightly damaged items away?
Jon’s last sentence says it all: he’s prioritising his own laziness over doing what he knows is right. Martina isn’t advocating keeping broken things, just taking small steps to fix stuff. Jon can afford to discard and replace things as and when, but that doesn’t negate the environmental impact of doing so.
Jon sounds like a bit of a nightmare but he seems to have the cash to support his shirt and laptop habit – and Martina is fighting a losing battle. So she should a) give up trying, b) divorce him, or c) get him to buy her some gorgeous silky shirts to keep her sweet.
I think Jon sees himself as efficient and focused, but he comes across as a company man who’s too busy for “little people” stuff. His readiness to jettison serviceable products suggests a shallow understanding of value.
Jon is bad news for the environment, but it’s not actually causing Martina harm. Jon’s an independent adult and Martina can’t control what he decides to throw away. She needs to accept that sometimes the people you love can be really irritating.
Jon is wasteful. I’m unsympathetic to his repeated lack-of-time excuse, as he finds time to buy new things. Perhaps Martina could change his mindset by getting him to donate to a charity he cares about.
Now you be the judge
In our online poll below, tell us: should Jon stop and think before throwing away slightly damaged items?
The poll closes on Thursday 9 February at 10am GMT
Last week’s result
We asked whether Yetunde should empty the vacuum cleaner after every use?
6% of you said yes – Yetunde is guilty
94% of you said no – Yetunde is not guilty