What: Quick question: If you took a look at your closet, how much of the stuff that’s crammed in there do you actually need or use? We’re talking about that pair of jeans or dress you swore you’d wear again, the boots you never wore, and the bag you bought on a whim. Before you haul your random clutter to the dump, find out if there’s a greener way to get rid of it. The majority of clothing purchased in the United States is for women and, similarly, the amount of used clothing available for reuse, recycling, or disposal in landfills is women’s clothing! 95 percent of used clothing is reusable or recyclable, and millions of pounds of clothing are spared from landfills each year as people pass along items to other family members or donate their used clothing to non-profit groups that help the less fortunate, like the Salvation Army, Goodwill, homeless shelters, and thousands of religious and service based organizations. Sadly, millions of tons of reusable clothing get added to the solid waste stream annually.
Why: Collectively, Americans discard millions of pounds of used clothing and textiles into the landfills each year. Donating your old clothes are helping the environment in several different ways:
- Donating to charity shops means customers have a low carbon footprint: no further energy or resources are required to create these goods;
- Reusing goods such as textiles prevents them from being sent to landfill: instead, they can be sold on to raise money for charitable causes;
- Textiles that cannot be sold are recycled: charity shops re-use and recycle over 250,000 tonnes of textiles each year.
- Clean out your closet. You might be surprised at how much stuff you hardly use but are still in good condition. Sort them so it will be easier to give them away later on.
- Check out shelters across the city. Nationwide organizations like Goodwill or the Salvation Army, and many others are worth a look. Find phone numbers in your phone book or online and make a few calls to see which ones need clothing the most.
- Look for clothing donation bins. Your city may have dozens of metal clothing bins all over street corners and local parking lots. Simply find one and put your stuff in.
- Donate old suits, dresses, work-appropriate clothes, and accessories to Dress for Success (dressforsuccess.org), a nonprofit that helps disadvantaged women find and maintain employment.
- Visit donatemydress.org to find locations in your area where you can donate promdresses and formal wear for underprivileged young women.
- Take the clothing to your local church or other religious organization. Check the phone book or online for listings. Don’t just dump it on their doorstep; find an administrator to make sure the church wants or needs the clothing.
- Check animal shelters. They are often desperate for donations of soft blankets, thick towels, and linens to use in the animal cages. To find a shelter near you, visit pets911.com.
TIP: To make this more fun, before you go out and look for shelters or organizations, throw a “clothing exchange” party where all of your friends bring their unwanted clothes to trade or give away. You never know–your rejected piece of clothing may be their treasure!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Green Blossoms is a sustainable clothing company based in Los Angeles, California. Their clothes are made from bamboo, organic cotton and corn and are designed for today’s modern woman. They also love helping women live green and healthy lives, and have fun doing it through their blog.