Our beautiful planet and the life it holds will not continue to thrive with the level of waste that humans produce. Each human produces about 4.5 pounds of trash a day, and that amounts to 1.5 solid tons of waste per human per year. If you add up all the trash created by the entire human race, it equals 2.6 trillion pounds of waste every year. Most of this trash is dumped into giant holes in the ground, and more trash is piled on top until the waste overflows and then we start a new landfill somewhere else. Our wasteful way of life cannot sustain itself.
So what can we do to save our planet? We’ve all heard the three Rs of sustainability, “reduce, reuse, recycle.” One commonly overlooked way to follow this mission is to make charity donations of used goods. Making charity donations actually fulfills all three Rs of sustainability in a single action:
- Charity Donations REDUCE the Trash That Goes Into Landfills.
It is estimated that Americans throw away about 12 million tons of clothing every year. About 90% of those 12 million tons of clothing filling up landfills are in good enough condition to be reused or recycled. If Americans chose to make clothing donations over throwing them away, the reduction in landfills would be huge!
Not to mention, when donated goods are resold in thrift stores, they are not packaged and reused items require zero resources to make. So consumers who purchase your donated goods are also reducing the packaging and resources that would have been used if they’d purchased the item new.
- Charity Donations are REUSED to Help People in Need.
About 80% of the clothes donations that Americans make to charities are reused by people in need, or sold in thrift shops and converted to cash which funds the mission of the charity. The clothing sold in thrift stores provides a source for other people to get low-cost clothing while furthering the “reuse” part of the three Rs of sustainability. In 2007 alone, donations for non profit organizations created about $5.8 billion in clothing being reused instead of thrown away!
- Charity Donations are also RECYCLED and Benefit the Local Economy.
Even clothing not in good enough condition to be re-worn can still be recycled. There are charities who repurpose old textiles in a variety of interesting ways, from insulating homes to teaching refugees and battered women new skills, like sewing. On top of that, you may not realize how much your charity donations benefits your local economy. Charities that recycle your clothing provide jobs for 17,000 people throughout the United States.
What is your favorite charity to donate your used goods to? Do you ever buy recycled goods from thrift stores? What is the best treasure you’ve found in a thrift store? Please leave us a comment below!