A friend of Half-Pint sent us a great podcast (7/25/12) on what happens to all of those clothes you donate to Goodwill. Did you know:
- Non-profit Thrift Stores get so much clothing in donations that they only keep, on average – according to the podcast, 10% of the clothing that is donated to them. The remaining 90% is sold to textile recycling firms at 5-7 cents per pound.
- Of that 90%, only 15% is bought by the textile recycling industry (used to make recycled products). The Council for Textiles says that they recycle 3.8 million pounds of clothing a year.
- What happens to the rest? It’s shipped oversees. Some people estimate that America’s #1 export is used clothing. And almost everyone agrees that it’s destroying African economies (see here here and here).
And what about all of that new clothing?
- Americans buy, and then throw away, 70 pounds (or more, depending on your source) of clothing and textiles annually. Some say that textile waste is 5% of landfill waste. Some fabrics, like polyester, can’t be composted and don’t decompose well.
- The WWF says that 5,200 gallons of water are needed to raise 2.2 pounds of cotton – about the amount needed for one pair of adult jeans.
So what to do?
I mean, Goodwill is a good non-profit organization, doing good things. As is SVDP. And I’m a big fan of buying beautiful new things for my kids (and myself, let’s not lie). I’m not suggesting that we stop buying things at thrift stores, or even making donations, necessarily. It’s about being smart about HOW MUCH we do it – and where we buy what we need. The podcast host suggests that the best thing you can do is to share clothing in your community as much as possible, such as at clothing swaps and consignment sales.
Being a responsible consumer is such a complicated thing. We love finding thrifty deals, new and used, at thrift stores and elsewhere. New is sometimes necessary, and often good. And someone needs to shop all of that thrift because otherwise it DOES end up oversees or in a landfill. But it’s a good reminder and a great reason to consign or share with local non-profits the items that we buy (new or used!)
Want to read more? Check out this great Slate.com article, as well as Elizabeth Cline’s book, “Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion“.
-EC and LS
We got the chance after the last sale to visit Kindred Kids, the non-profit in Columbus (just north of Sun Prairie) where all of the donated items from Half-Pint Resale make their new (albeit temporary) home. Kindred Kids is one of the most lovely, heart-filled resource centers for families that we’ve ever seen.
Kindred Kids is a free resource organization for children with differing abilities. They provide a free lending library of toys (tons of them!), furniture (cribs, changing tables, train tables, toddler beds), books and equipment (wheelchairs, walkers, communication devices etc.) They also have dress-up clothes, a bouncy castle…. and the list goes on and on.
For many families, Kindred Kids is a lifeline. But it’s also a way for the entire community to come together. For a small fee (either monthly or yearly – contact Kindred Kids for the prices), ANYONE can use the resource center. On weekend nights, local teens will come and hang out just to play the large collection of games that they have. Local moms (that could be you!) meet there for small playgroups. Families “rent” everything for their child’s birthday party (a fairy castle and fairy dress up wings borrowed instead of bought), or “borrow” a piece of furniture that they know that they won’t need for more than a few months. All families can purchase clothing for very inexpensively (even cheaper than Half-Pint, if you can believe it – some was only a dollar!), which provides MUCH needed financial resources for the agency to stay afloat.
From their site, “We chose the name “Kindred Kids” because there are commonalities shared by all kids. They really
are all “Kindred”. Their differing abilities may make some of their needs “different” but their needs as children are the same.”
Interested in learning more about Kindred Kids? Give them a call, and go for a visit! Our kids had a blast when we visited and our scheduled half-hour turned into well over an hour, and it took nothing other than magic to get them to leave.
And if you are trying to decide whether or not to bring your items home or donate them, we’d highly recommend you let Kindred Kids put them to good use 🙂
-Ellen and Lisa
PS – If you go and visit, you are bound to run into the amazing Wendy (the Kindred Kids Executive Director, family resource helper, and so much more) – take a minute to say hi (she’s an angel from Above)…