Over the years I’ve been making sure to transition my clothing and jewelry into a more eco friendly collection. This doesn’t mean everything I have is made of hemp, it can be as simple as buying used or vintage clothing, reclaimed jewelry, faux leather – including faux fur, pleather, faux shearling and faux suede, or just making your own clothes more often. You can also shop wiser, make purchases that you know you will use for years and buy quality things that you wont need to donate or throw away soon after buying them.
Some of my buying habits are influences by my lifestyle, a vegan and cruelty free one, but also because every time I think of all the waste in the world it makes me sick. I try to make my clothes last as long as I can, and sometimes even reuse the fabric rather than donate something sub-par, torn or damaged. Companies like Goodwill, who get all their items for free, has a quick process of trying to sell, pushing out, and eventually bailing huge collections of clothes. They sometimes sell them to mechanics for scrap rags or simply send them over seas to companies who will reuse them there (not donations). They also sell them to “textile salvage” companies over seas as Goodwill really is all about profit (they have an awesome hiring program for disabled people, retirement, benefits etc and donate some money to organizations – but only the minimum needed to get the tax benefits).
You’re better off (and your clothes are better off) going to a smaller organization who will give the clothes to group homes and women who need work clothes – and don’t even bother donating things you wouldn’t wear, are stained, ripped or otherwise damaged, no one wants it.
From Goodwill’s website:
When Goodwill receives excess clothing donations that won’t sell in the stores, they are baled and sold as textile salvage to salvage companies. This keeps them out of the landfills and earns revenue to support our training and placement programs for people with disabilities and disadvantages. Textile salvage bales have been sold to countries in Latin America and Africa. Credential and regular bales of unsorted goods that may contain shoes and other donations are also available for sale.”
“Most Americans are thoroughly convinced there is another person in their direct vicinity who truly needs and wants our unwanted clothes. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Charities long ago passed the point of being able to sell all of our wearable unwanted clothes. According to John Paben, co-owner of used-clothing processor Mid- West Textile, “They never could.”
There are thousands of secondhand textile processors in the United States today, mostly small family businesses, many of them several generations old. Americas Trading Co., a third- generation textile recycler in Clifton, N.J., which employs 85 people and processes close to 17 million pounds of used clothing a year. Inside Trans-Americas, there is a wall of cubed-up clothing five bales tall and more than 20 bales long. “This is literally several hundred thousand pounds of textile waste, and we bring in two trailer loads of this much every day,” The volume they process has gone up over the years alongside our consumption of clothing.
Without textile recyclers, charities would be totally beleaguered and forced to throw away everything that couldn’t be sold. Charities might even have to turn us away. The only benefit to this doomsday scenario is that our clothes would pile up in our house or in landfills, finally forcing us to face down just how much clothing waste we create.” – Via Slate
Shopping wise is the way to go!
This is where most of your clothes will end up.
I’m not saying don’t donate, just be aware of what you buy so you don’t need to donate as much – there is obviously plenty in circulation – and donate USABLE clothing to places where the clothes have a better chance of being used by people who need them.