Clean and Donate Clothes
by Alyson Simons
In honor of Clutter Awareness Week, we are going to encourage you to clean and donate. Recently we encouraged you to be mindful about your spending, so the transition should flow naturally. We often hear people talk about “spring cleaning,” which can paint a picture of someone cleaning his or her house from baseboards to windows in a single weekend. We want to simplify spring cleaning and have you tackle areas of your house in 15-minute increments, with the mission to clean out and donate unused or unwanted clothing or household goods.
Before you donate, assess how many levels of impact the donation makes. Each donation has the potential to make a personal, environmental and community impact.
Cleaning out your closet helps you declutter your living space. Without much thought, we can accumulate mass amounts of “stuff” that slowly suffocates us. When you live in clutter, you are constantly overstimulated, affecting your ability to concentrate. According to the blog “Why clutter matters and decluttering is difficult “When we clear the clutter out of a space, people breathe a sigh of relief. The mood changes instantly. People feel lighter, more serene, more focus. The effect is profound.”
Holding on to mass amounts of unused stuff also is expensive and time-consuming.
According to USAGAIN, millions of pounds of textiles are tossed into landfills across the United States each year. We are “disposable” society – that is, quick to throw away clothes without thinking twice about the impact. “By re-wearing and reusing clothing,” USAGAIN points out, “we save precious natural resources, reduce pollution and prevent the emission of climate-changing greenhouse gases. The raw material production and manufacturing of new clothes is a resource and energy-intensive process. So every item of clothing saved is a big benefit for the planet.”
Crazy facts to support reusing and donating clothes. Facts provided by usagain.com)
- Every man, woman and child now buys more than 81 pounds of textiles every year. This includes 66 pounds of clothes, footwear, towels, sheets and pillowcases, of which about 10 pounds will be reused or recycled, leaving 56 pounds to be thrown in the trash.
- It takes 700 gallons of water to grow the cotton to produce just one T-shirt. Conventionally grown cotton, one of the most popular clothing fibers, is also one of the most water- and pesticide-dependent crops.
- According to the World Bank, 17-20% of industrial water pollution is due to textile dyeing and treatment. Up to 72 chemicals found in polluted water come directly from the textile dyeing process.
- Every pound of clothing that is re-worn and replaces the manufacturing of new clothing saves seven pounds of greenhouse gases.
- The boilers, ovens and storage tanks used in the textile-manufacturing process can emit dust, aerosols, and harmful fumes and gases that can lead to long-term vision and respiratory problems, the blocking of sunlight, fog persistence and even death. The health effects are similar to those exhibited by longtime cigarette smokers.
More facts: Check out For Planet
Donating clothes to local organizations can have two degrees of impact. The first impact is that your donations to a local organization are resold, and the money raised is used to support a nonprofit organization. For example, clothes donated to The Salvation Army are sold in their local store, and the funds raised go to the Adult Rehabilitation Center, which helps adults struggling with addiction.
Another way that clothing donations help your community is by providing low-income families with affordable clothing options. We would like to insert this caveat: Make sure your donated clothes are not being shipped internationally. When donating internationally, it is best to donate money, so that nonprofit organizations can take the money and spend it within the economy of the country they are trying to help. Sending used clothing to third-world countries has a negative impact on the communities receiving the donations by displacing local textile makers. More on the negative impact of international clothing donations
Now that you have the clothes out of your closet and ready to donate, where is the best place to donate? Organizations we consider the top places to donate:
The obvious choice:
You can always donate to a local Goodwill or The Salvation Army location. The Salvation Army will even come to your house to pick up your donations, The money raised by Goodwill and The Salvation Army stores funds important programs in your community. Goodwill funds employment training and job placement services for people in your community, and the Salvation Army funds its Adult Rehabilitation Center.
Business Clothes or Dresses
If you have business attire that you no longer wear, then donate to Dress For Success, which “promotes the economic independence of disadvantaged women by providing professional attire, a network of support and the career development tools to help women thrive in work and in life.” Dress for Success has guidelines to interview-appropriate clothing, including coordinated, contemporary, interview-appropriate skirts andpantsuits.
Then there is Donate My Dress that encourages teenage girls to donation their prom and special occasion dresses to others who need them. Donatemydress.org is the “first national network to bring together local dress drive organizations across the U.S.”
It has a wonderful database of locations near you to drop off your dress.
When your kids have outgrown their clothes, you always have the option of giving the clothes to another parent with a kid the appropriate age and size. Reusing the clothes within your family and friendship circle is always a great option. But if you are looking for something creative, check out the company Moxie Jeans, the clothes are just so cute. The introductory video explains that the company mails you a Moxie Bag for you to send your clothing free, then Moxie sorts through the clothing. The clothing that is high quality and in good conditionis sold online in a boutique display. The rest of the clothing gets donated. If your clothing is sold, you will get cash, credit or the option to donate the money to Children’s Hospital of Chicago.
Get together with a group of friends and bring all your unwanted clothing to a clothing swap party. In an article titled “Dress Yourself for Free: How to Host a Clothing Swap,” Sierra Black provides advice on how to host a clothing swap party. Find a space, decide who is invited, make an announcement, set rules, gather supplies, swap and donate leftovers. Also, a company online called Clothing Swap Inc aims to facilitate clothing swaps at locations near you.
Remember; try to donate to places that have the most impact:
If I just clean out my closet and throw the clothes away, I have accomplished one level of impact.
I will have simplified my closet, therefore my life and mind.
On the other hand, let’s say that I donate the clothes to The Salvation Army.
I will have simplified my closet, therefore my life and mind.
I will have helped the environment by reducing my environmental footprint.
I will have donated to a store where all the goods sold fund the Adult Rehabilitation Center, which helps adults struggling with addiction and their families
I will have provided inexpensive clothing options for low-income families.
Good luck, Be Better.