Spring has sprung, a perfect time to donate your gently used clothes – but where?
Spring has sprung, and although its arrival has been eagerly anticipated, I now can see the sun occasionally breaking through the clouds and illuminating the dust on the furniture, and dirt on the window. It’s a great reminder that it is time for spring-cleaning.
Spring is the time of year when we not only clean every cupboard, and every window, but we sort through our clothes and ask, is this still me? Will I lose five pounds so it fits? Should I keep my ‘just in case I gain 10 pounds’ pants? Should I get rid of the hockey jersey that I have had since circa 1980?
Ultimately, we consider what we should get rid of, and where should we donate our gently used clothes?
The answer to that question is often whatever is most convenient. Throwing our clothes in the trash is never ideal. Landfills are filling at a rapid rate, not to mention contributing to environmental toxins. In 2013 alone over 12 million tons of clothes where sent to landfills in North America.
Donate your gently used clothes to donation boxes
The next consideration is the donation box. Some of those conveniently used clothing drop boxes are destined for international waters. You may be thinking…great, developing countries could benefit from your slightly used clothes. Well here is another perspective.
One day my husband, Mike, and I are walking through Kampala, Uganda, and a young man catches our attention, he is wearing a hockey jersey, with a logo on it from a Canadian company my husband use to work at. Well, how did he get it?
It was bought at the local market for about a dollar. How did it get to the market? During spring-cleaning, you or a family member threw it in a collection bin, it was gathered and bundled and packed into a shipping container, destined for the shores of Africa. It was shipped to a warehouse, where street merchants buy bundles of clothes by the pound. Those clothes end up at local markets and presto, a mother buys your discarded hockey jersey for their son.
Wonderful contribution, right?
Exporting all these ‘unwanted clothes’ has impacted the clothing manufacturing industry in many developing countries in Africa. Several women interviewed on WisdomExchangeTV.com would suggest this practice paralyzed the industry.
African clothing manufacturers couldn’t compete with the ‘low cost of clothes’ imported from more developed nations. We saved local landfills, and inadvertently suppressed development in developing countries.
In 2014 East African countries imported more than $300 million of second-hand clothes from wealthy nations. Imagine, how many jobs that could have created locally had we not donated our second-hand clothes to a bin destined to Africa?
Manufacturing allows countries to be self-reliant; importing finished goods promotes dependency, and therefore sabotaging an economy. East African countries don’t want used clothes being sent to them, but like with any form of aid, people become dependent on it, and business is set up around it, locally and internationally.
If used clothing sales were to stop in East Africa, it would cost jobs in the short term, but it is believed that it would create manufacturing jobs in the long-term, allowing African to make a more sustainable wage.
Make #MyContributionCount means we are conscious that our contributions are not disempowering the people they are intended to empower.
The good news, if you share this story perhaps you will not lose your next beloved jersey, or at least if you give it locally you won’t have to travel as far to see it again.So, where is the best place to donate your gently used clothes? Start with donating clothes directly to a worthwhile cause, swap, then to a bin destined to charity or thrift shop. #YouMeWeMovement #MyContributionCounts Click To Tweet
So, where is the best place to donate your gently used clothes?
Start with donating clothes directly to a worthwhile cause, swap, then to a bin destined to charity or thrift shop.
Donate Clothes worthwhile causes:
Donate Women’s work attire
Dress for Success– One of my favourite places to donate to my gently worn work clothing.
Dress for Success is an international not-for-profit organization that empowers women to achieve economic independence by providing a network of support, professional attire and the development tools to help women thrive in work and life. Since starting operations in 1997, Dress for Success has expanded to more than 150 cities in 30 countries and has helped more than one million women work towards self-sufficiency.
Your local Women’s shelter – often women need to flee in a hurry, and only have time to grab the children. Many shelters need clothing for Moms and the children, amongst many other requirements. Connect with the shelter before donating, as they may not need what you have to give.
Donate Men’s work attire
Suits his Style is a great organization that helps men prepare for the workforce. This charity located in Ottawa, Canada, however, if you Google “donate men’s dress clothes” I’m sure you can find an organization near you.
Moores Clothing for Men is a men’s suit retailer located across Canada also takes dress clothing for men and women during its annual Canadian Suit Drive from July 1 to July 31 each year. The Canadian Suit Drive assists at-risk men and women who want to join the workforce. https://www.mooresclothing.com/mor/suitDrive.jsp?locale=en_CA
Dress Your Best is a Toronto men’s suite outfitter that also helps men enter the workforce.
Donate Children’s clothes
The New Mom Project was started to provide marginalized families with some basic baby necessities to get them off to a great and loving start. They collect donations of gently used or new items and distribute them to families in need. Since 2014 they have helped approximately 1000 families!
With the rise of the sharing economy, more mothers are participating in groups where they can access used children’s clothes or toys. Many with no fee attached. This is an excellent way to give that pair of shoes your child grew out of in a day to someone else. Or that toy that your child has lost interest in, but will create all sorts of excitement for a new owner.
Donate to charitable bins (Note: not all bins a charitable!)
Salvation Army – accepts clothes of all kinds and resells them at their Thrift Stores. This appears to be a good alternative, as the clothes stay local and they resell them at a low cost for families in need. They also have hundreds of locations, probably one near you. A good question, however, is: “What do you do with the clothes not sold?” In many cases, eventually, the unpurchased clothes are destined for international shores. http://thriftstore.ca/central-ontario/donating-goods
Goodwill donation boxes are also well distributed in North America and assuming the clothes are not Wet or mildew-y everything else is up for the taking. The clothes are funnelled firstly to the thrift shop. If not sold in short order, they do get packaged up then sold in bulk. Where they go from here is out of Goodwill’s control. Clothes can be resold, used in furniture, or in a canister destined to an emerging country, perpetuating a low-cost dependency. The Huffman post wrought great article on your Goodwill donated clothes journey.
It would give me much more confidence to know that if donating to a charity, that the clothes were helping someone locally. And if the remaining fabric was then turned into products, such as rags, certain types of paper, specialized fibre-based materials, or even diapers – all which use our unwanted clothes. However, when we donate in a bin, the destination is often unknown.So be part of the solution, consider donating your gently used clothes to an organization that helps people to enter, or return to the workforce. #YouMeWeMovement #MyContributionCounts Click To Tweet
So be part of the solution, consider donating your gently used clothes to:
- Donate to an organization that helps people to enter, or return to the workforce.
- Items that aren’t work-worthy donate to small organizations that have a specific purpose for your items.
- Host a swap party. Perhaps one of your friends would love that top that you wore twice.
- Or, perhaps the best course is thinking before you buy so our excess doesn’t end up in a landfill or sabotaging an industry in a developing country.
When interviewing Philippa Reiss Thorne, at the time the Managing Director of Gone Rural in Swaziland, for WisdomExchangeTV.com, [http://wisdomexchangetv.com/philippa-reiss-thorne/] I remember her sharing her minimalist fashion strategy. She would buy good quality clothing so she would be able to keep them on her back, and out of landfills. A great reduce excess strategy.
In the meantime, enjoy spring cleaning, and when you’re done, can you come over and help me?
Until next time, make your contributions count. #YouMeWeMovement #MyContributionCounts
- Where is the best place to donate my unwanted clothes?
- Where do my donated clothes really go?
- What are some alternatives to ensure my generosity helps and doesn’t hurt?
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