Where Does the Clothing Go?
With the spirit of giving in the air during the holiday season, it’s common for news outlets to broadcast charity-related stories on the air. WKBN Channel 27 in Youngstown, Ohio recently aired a report, “Donation Destination,” which examined the question of what happens to used clothing collected by local and regional organizations.
Planet Aid collects clothing in many regions of Ohio, including Youngstown. We were pleased to have the opportunity to talk with WKBN about our operations and our mission of helping the poor in developing countries.
Our manager in Ohio, Kai Nielsen, was briefly interviewed for the broadcast. Among the points touched on is that clothing we collect is shipped and sold on the international commodity market. The fact that clothing donations are exported is sometimes a surprise to those less familiar with large-scale clothing collection operations. Often, people wonder whether local charities are being adversely impacted by this practice.
The WKBN broadcast addressed this issue directly by interviewing a representative of a local charity and by looking inside their donation trailer. The donations were still flowing in for the charity, and the representative expected there to be an adequate supply even with more donation bins appearing in the area.
Given the volume of used clothing being disposed of in the United States, the fact that charities are awash in donations should be no surprise. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently reported that the volume of unwanted clothing being disposed of in the United States jumped upward by 1 million tons, reaching a total of 16 million tons annually. This is consistent with the upward trend in clothing consumption over the past few decades. Today, Americans consume clothing five times faster than in 1980.
Only 16 percent of the volume of used clothing entering the waste stream is currently recycled, meaning that there are still 13.5 million tons of usable textiles being discarded in landfills or incinerated. These wasteful “destinations” are not acceptable for a planet faced by the growing threat of climate change.
Planet Aid is helping to change this reality because every collection bin that we place in every neighborhood that we serve is another opportunity for people to recycle. In this way, we help to divert more and more used clothing from an unnecessary trip to the trash heap.See All Blog Posts