In the United States, we are almost notorious for throwing away more than the rest of the world does. Despite our efforts to recycle, reduce, and reuse, we still manage to consume and throw away more than any other country on the planet. Yet there’s one thing that we send to the landfill that could easily be recycled instead: clothing.
Clothing is one of the easiest materials to recycle. Although it makes up 5% of the trash in U.S. landfills, adding up to about 12 to 13 million tons of it thrown out each year, at least 95% of clothing and textiles could be salvaged.
So what happens to clothing if it’s not trashed? Most people choose to donate to various charity organizations by giving their gently used clothing donations. These donations go toward helping families in need, and sometimes they even go to specific populations, such as donations to Purple Heart veterans charities. Donations to Purple Heart veterans and other current and former members of the military are useful because they help clothe men and women who have sacrificed themselves for their country. Clothing donations are also useful for helping military families, especially those related to wounded veterans.
Donated clothing also has other uses. Many charities will separate clothing depending on what it can be used for. Some will donate it to those in need outright. Others will set clothing aside to be sold in a secondhand shop; the sales from these stores often benefit charities and families in need, too. Some clothing, however, is recycled: there are several methods developed by “green” companies to break down fabrics to recreate textiles. Very little clothing that is donated isn’t salvageable at all.
As we use more and more of the resources on our planet, it’s important to consider how our consumption may affect us in the future. Whether you’d like to give donations to Purple Heart veterans or you want to know more about the textile recycling process, there’s plenty of information on the web — and there might even be organizations in your community that can provide you with more info. Have questions about how you can help save the planet? Leave a comment below. More on this.