The popular New Year’s resolution of the day is (drumroll please)…. Get rid of old clothes! If I had remembered this was it’s own separate popular resolution I might not have focused so much on it in my do something for charity article. So. I’ve been digging deeper, but let me start by reposting what I already shared, cause it’s absolutely relevant and important information:
“Whatever clothes and accessories or other linens you have that you can’t or don’t wear or use, donate either to a shelter or to Goodwill. If people go to Goodwill and tell them they need clothes to get a job they get hooked up with professionally appropriate clothes for free. At least they do here, but I assume it’s a company-wide policy. Any clothes that don’t sell in their stores get auctioned off by the pound, and anything left after auction gets sent to textile recyclers. If you have clothes that are so worn out and faded or stained you don’t think a charity will want them, put them (washed and dried and nicely bagged) in one of those clothes donation bins you see around town or find another clothing recycler (Goodwill won’t take them anymore according to our research.) A lot of that clothing that we consider too worn out or faded or stained to be usable is actually sent to other countries that have a large demand for second hand clothing, if it’s beyond use for them it may be recycled into wiping and polishing cloths or recycled into fiber for upholstery, insulation, or furniture stuffing. Never never never throw away clothes, and don’t let it sit in your closet knowing you will never use it again because you just don’t know what to do with it. Donate it. It WILL be used.”
So knowing all of that I decided to delve deeper and rather than look for what specific charities do with clothing donations, I went a little broader and googled only “Donate Clothes.” Those two words brought me an ad for Donating Clothes to Charity via PickUpPlease.org (as discussed in my charity article PickUpPlease provides virtually all funding to Vietnam Veterans of America), a link for Donating Goods to the Springs Rescue Mission (one of our biggest local charities in Colorado Springs for homeless people), Women’s Resource Agency (who seeks workplace-appropriate clothing, suits, interview-appropriate clothing, and career clothing. Any clothing donations they receive that don’t fit into those categories is sold once a month along with overstock and the proceeds are put back into career readiness for women, girls, and families in the community), links to Clothing programs Pikes Peak Area Colorado, Colorado Spring Clothing Donations (which lists 13 programs the provide clothing to those in needs), Places to Donate – Springs Bargains, Donate Stuff Goodwill Industries, Where to Donate Used or Old Clothes to Charity, ClothingDonations.org, Donate Clothing in Denver, and then some more informational articles about exactly what happens to clothing that is donated.
So if you’re looking to get rid of clothes, you can of course consider having a garage or yard sale first to see if you can make money off of it. If that’s more work than you want to go through, or if you end up with leftovers after you’ve held your sale, or you take things to consignment shops to sell which I know nothing about but you still have clothes leftover you’re looking to get rid of, my first suggestion is to google “donate clothes” and see what specific options there are for your community and who might actually NEED clothes. I would choose those organizations first.
Beyond that then we’re left with those previous options I mentioned of clothing bins or Goodwill and The Salvation Army. Or the trash bin. There are a couple of important things to know when deciding which of those options get your unneeded/unwanted clothing.
Let’s start with the trash bin. American’s put 10.5MILLION tons of clothing in landfills every year. We donate only 15% of our used clothing. Cross the trash bin off the list. It might be the most convenient, but it’s the most harmful, and the most selfish. If we donate or recycle our used clothing (or unused clothing, as there’s plenty that turns up unworn with the tags still attached), 45% of it gets re-worn as second hand clothing, 30% of it gets cut down and used as industrial rags, 20% of it gets ground down and reprocessed (as upholstery, furniture stuffing, carpet padding, etc.), and 5% is entirely unusable.
So, eliminating landfills, then we’ve got the convenience of those clothing donation bins that are all over the city. Those are awesome, except that they mostly are marked with things that make you think you’re giving your clothing to charity and really you’re giving it to for profit textile recyclers. For profit isn’t always a bad thing, but I wish they’d be more upfront about it. I know I’ve put some really nice lightly worn clothes in those bins that wouldn’t have gone there if I’d known they weren’t charitable like they implied. For that reason specifically I recommend using those bins ONLY for your clothing and linens that are beyond the point of use as clothing. Use those bins for the stained, the ripped, the entirely threadbear, the truly unusable. Unusable to you is still almost always usable to them. And recycling is a good thing, even if it’s for profit. Every recyclable product is recycled for profit, whether it’s paper or aluminum or plastic or glass or clothes. Just know that that’s what you’re choosing to do when you do it.
After you’ve gone through your local charities, and everything that’s truly unusable to drop off in those bins, then turn to those bigger charities like Goodwill and the Salvation army. They get so many clothing donations they can’t possibly even try to sell all of them in store, only about 20% of donated clothes end up being used by someone in the local community. But that doesn’t mean the rest goes unused. They keep the best of the best and let it stay on their racks for a certain length of time (usually a month) before pulling it if it hasn’t sold, everything unsold or not picked to put on the rack gets compressed into blocks of clothing that weigh half a ton each.
Those cubes of clothing then go to those textile recyclers where they would’ve ended up if you had tossed them in a bin. But at least at this point charities have had the option to cherry pick from them what is useful, needed, and sellable. From there they’re cut open and organized by types of clothing in 200 broad categories like baby clothes, jackets, denim, khaki pants, sweaters, etc. Then they’re sorted by quality. Some small percentage ends up in vintage shops, but most of the wearable clothing is sold overseas to used clothing vendors. The majority is sent to ports in sub-Saharan Africa, South America, and China. We export a billion pounds of used clothing every year.
When it arrives there the bales are again cut open and picked through by buyers. The African used clothing market is getting very picky and demanding higher quality and current fashions, thanks to the wonders of the internet. No one wants to be seen as poor, even if they are, but Africa also has rising incomes and cheap Chinese imports of new clothes are starting to be much more prominent. Anything they deem unusable or unsellable then goes back to the textile recyclers to turn into wiping rags or furniture filling or upholstery or carpet padding or whatever. There ARE some websites that will tell you this is all a bad thing because it’s taking away business from the people in these countries that could be supporting themselves making clothes. While I’m sure it does impact their business, the fact is that the demand is high enough that these countries are importing NEW clothing from China alongside our USED clothing, and they’re going to find countries to import from whether it’s us or not. Don’t let your heart feel so much for the clothing manufacturers in these countries that your clothes go in landfills. That doesn’t help anyone and it hurts the planet.
Donate your clothes in good consciousness in the hierarchy of where they are most needed and will get the most use. Local charities, then national charities, and only put the unusable in the collection bins. The rest will sort itself out by people who know where everything is needed. If you want to help out those businesses that are being deprived of work from all our used clothing exports then the best thing you can do is stop buying so much clothing to begin with. We’re buying vast quantities more in clothing that we ever have, and so much of it shows up at the donation centers never worn. Buy secondhand yourself, for you and your kids and especially babies whose clothes are so lightly worn for such a small amount of time that used barely makes a difference.
So, get in there and clean out your closets, donate things where it’s appropriate to, and feel good about it, but don’t feel so good about it that you take it as a pass to go on a shopping spree.
Otherwise, our little tasks for today are:
Paint your Fingernails. What you paint them with is up to you. You can do a fun color or something business professional minded or a coat of clear or one that works for you gentlemen out there too there are nail strengthening coats you can paint on that are clear and dry like nothing is there. If nothing else you can paint your nails with olive oil and it will help to keep them stronger and healthier too.
Clean out your Refrigerator. This is probably self explanatory, but if it’s expired, get rid of it, if you’re never going to eat it, get rid of it. Take everything off of one shelf at a time and windex it or lysol wipe it or whatever you need to do to feel like it’s clean and then put things back nice and neat and organized and do the same for the next shelf or drawer. Don’t forget the door. Lots of expired condiments like to hide out there.
Swim. Again, freestyle swimming is one of the best kinds of exercise you can do. It’s awesome cardio, and it works your entire body. If you’ve got access to a pool use it. If you can get access to a pool make it so. If you have no access to a pool then pick another form of cardio that works your whole body and give it a good twenty minutes. If you do have gym or health club access consider a good steam in the wet sauna too to open your pores and sweat out the crud. Be sure to drink a lot of water afterwards.
That’s it for today! I will see you on Facebook later for the Question of the Day!
A word about music: We include songs for a reason. Music helps us deal with the world, helps to soothe the soul, and gives us something else we can focus on when everything is too much. Listen to the songs we post. Even if you already know them. Listen to them like you don’t. Pay attention to the lyrics. Pay attention to what the instruments are telling you. They all have a message, they all have a purpose, they’re all chosen for a reason. If you like the song, please support the artist by purchasing the MP3 or Album that features it.
Today’s music can be found on Amazon.com:
MP3: Shoppin’ For Clothes
Album: The Very Best of the Coasters