If there’s one type of donation that most people will give in their lifetimes, it’s most likely clothing. Used clothing donations are easy to give because they don’t require much from the donor — just an afternoon spent cleaning out a closet or two. Many people prefer to give donations of clothing around the holidays, so they can get a last-minute tax deduction, or during the spring once they’ve completed their spring cleaning. However, clothing can be donated just about any time of the year.
But how is that clothing put to good use by the charity organizations that collect them? Here are the top three uses for donated clothing:
1. Direct donations: When it comes to helping families in need, clothing is one of the resources that they rely on. For instance, parents in low-income families may have trouble continually buying their children new clothing, so donations help off-set these costs. Those who are homeless are also helped by clothing donations whether they live on the street or in a shelter.
2. Secondhand clothing sales: Many charity organizations also run thrift stores where community members can buy donated clothing. These clothes are available at a low cost to the public, which is helpful for low-income families and others who need cheap clothing. Many of these shops also employ homeless disabled, or otherwise disadvantaged community members to help them maintain their independence and make a living to support themselves or their families. Around 20% of donated clothing items are sold in these types of shops.
3. Recycling programs: In addition to giving the clothing away or selling it, some charity organizations will also recycle donated clothing. Recycling of any kind is important because it seeks to reduce the amount of waste in landfills, and at least 12 to 13 million tons of clothing wind up their every year. This is unnecessary, however, because at least 95% of that clothing can be reused or recycled. For the most part, this is done for any clothing that isn’t salvageable, so it can be put to a better use.