The textile industry is enormous in the developed world. According to Clean Clothes, anywhere from 60 to 75 million people worldwide were employed in the textile, clothing, and footwear industry in 2014, with the women’s wear industry worth 621 billion USD that year, and the men’s wear industry worth 402 billion USD. However, despite such productivity, the clothes do not always end up where they are most needed. Military families, the bliond, and low-income households could use them instead.
Where Do Used Clothes End Up?
Textile products are among the many produced goods that are recyclable, but garments have one of the lowest recycle and donation rates, at around 15%. The remainder, close to 10.5 million tons of clothing, is sent straight to landfills. The two million tons of clothes that do get recycles often end up in industrial use, often making up furniture stuffing or insulation for the walls in homes. In the end, 30% of donated clothes are worn by another user, and in the end, that is only a slim fraction of all clothes purchased by Americans every year (25 billion pounds of textiles).
Better Uses for Those Old Clothes
American society has grown conscious of the need to recycle and “go green,” often for certain plastics, glass bottles, cardboard, paper, and compost and other organic waste. Clothing, as stated above, often lags behind these other sectors. What is more, there is clear and bountiful need for these used clothes to end up somewhere besides a landfill. Those living below the poverty line, and the homeless, make up an endless market for used clothes of all kinds. With so many clothes going to waste in landfills, there is progress to be made.
There is good news: support for military families is completely possible. Around 95 percent of Americans donate to charity, such as helping families in need across the nation, and if everyone is in a charitable mood, the main work to be done is raising awareness of the need to donate more clothes. Already, in 2011, an estimated two million tons of clothes were donated or recycled, and if awareness of this need were to be raised, that figure could become much higher. After all, 25 billion pounds of clothes are purchased every year, as stated earlier, and if the percentage of clothes donated or recycled were raised, many more homeless or impoverished Americans could receive much-needed garments. The average American discards 82 pounds of textile waste per year, but that number could stand to be driven much lower.
The clothes are there. Donations in ever-greater numbers may be possible. The question now is if Americans can get them to the right place, for the right reasons.
Who Donates and Received These Clothes?
Military veterans, as well as low-income households and the homeless, are prime candidates to receive these donated clothes, even those aged 18-24. Military families would appreciate the assistance, and as the statistics show, there is a lot to go around. The blind, too, are a prime demographic for charitable donations, and programs exist to help them gain the skills needed to be independent, successful members of society. Once veterans have finished serving the nation, donating many used clothes is a prime way to aid and support them once they return home. Organizations that pick up donated clothes could help get more garments into the process, and from there, donations to military families and the blind, and anyone else in need, can cut down on waste and ensure that textiles go where they belong: on people in need.
There is plenty of good work that anyone can do to help. With Americans buying more garments and outfits than ever, it can be easy to find unwanted clothes to offer. One could find any local charities that pick up clothing, and even houseware donations are an option, if desired. Donation guidelines from location to location may vary, but at any rate, donating old clothes to military families in need, and veterans charities, can be fast, easy, and rewarding.