I always assumed–somewhat naively, I guess–that when I give clothes to charity they end up in my thrift store. Apparently, I was wrong about that.
This article in Good Magazine talks about what happen to clothes when you donate them. Only 15%-20% of clothes we donate end up in thrift stores. As for the rest:
30% is cut and turned into industrial wiping rags
25% is recycled into fiber for stuffing and insulation
45% continues life as clothing on a different continent, mostly Africa.
It turns out that the global used clothing trade is big business, generating $1 billion annually. But why aren’t more of our clothes ending up in thrift stores? We’re too busy buying new stuff. According to the article, we keep only 21% of the clothing we buy every year! That’s a lot of wasted money and resources.
From the article:
Globally, we trash roughly 2 billion pounds of clothing and textiles a year. Piled onto a football field, the waste would stretch more than two miles high. The textile industry has hooked us so completely on the accelerated fashion cycle that we feel we find ourselves with more and more stuff and few options for ethically discarding it.
So while donating clothes is better than throwing them out, it’s better if we can all get our spending under control by buying less in the first place and using up what we have. Here are some links to get us started:
What To Do With Used Clothes: Alternatives to donating.
Mending 101: How to fix clothes when they get holes.
Recycled Yarn: Unravel old sweaters and reuse the yarn.
From Baby Clothes To Baby Toys: Turn old baby clothes into one-of-a-kind baby toys.
The 10 Item Wardrobe: Switching to a minimalism wardrobe.
Wearing Nothing New: Buying all used (and vintage!) clothes.