According to the EDGE, clothing production doubled with a 60% increase of consumption of garments between the years of 2000 and 2014. On average consumers throw away 30 kilograms of clothing and shoes, per person, every year.
Are you thinking about donating your unwanted clothes? Are you concerned about where those items are going?
Here’s what happens to your donated clothes.
What happens if you donate your clothing to charities?
This would be the first thing that would come to your mind, doing something good for the world. You could personally take your clothes to drop-off points or to clothes bins. Some charities even pick them up from your home (depending on your location).
In this case there are different scenarios as to what charities are doing with your clothes. Of course, the main solution is that the clothes in good condition are given to people who are homeless, financially limited, etc. Whilst, these garments are also being sold at secondhand stores. The main problem that charities face is that a large percentage of homeless people are men, yet the majority of donations received are women's clothes. Hence, there is a large disparity, leaving the charity with large volumes of women’s clothes which they need to find a use for.
Another very common route is charities selling those garments to textile recyclers. According to Saturday Evening Post report, 90% of donations to charity donations such as Goodwill and Salvation Army are going to end up with textile recyclers. In that way they raise money for other purposes and support more sustainable use of those clothes.
"Our industry buys from charitable institutions, hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of clothing every year" said Bernard Brill, from the Secondary Recycled Textiles Association, to ABC News.
What are textile recyclers doing with those garments?
Well, the most common things they are doing are selling them on secondhand stores or even converting them into insulation, cleaning cloths, carpet padding, etc. But that is not all it.
Recyclers often ship those garments to less developed countries, especially countries in East Africa such as Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda. These clothes are then being sold in street markets at a very low price. Which actually negatively affects the local textile production as they cannot make a product as cheap as is available in these secondhand markets. It affects the industry within these countries.
The East African Community (consisting of Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Burundi and Rwanda) have in fact proposed to implement a complete ban on all imported clothing and shoes from more economically developed countries. They want locals to stop relying on waste from other countries, and to boost manufacturing and industries from within the countries, to create jobs and improve the economy.
Our ‘donations’ are severely damaging the local markets. 30 years ago, Kenya had approximately 110 large scale textile manufacturers however this dropped by 50% by 2006, largely due to our ‘donations’. This dropped the local employment rate of 500,000 to 20,000 workers within the local clothing industry.
Local economies within East Africa will prosper if they focus on protecting their domestic markets and grow jobs within the countries rather than relying heavily on our exports.
"Many of these countries in Africa used to have a fairly well-developed indigenous market for textiles and clothing and particularly for hand-crafted or hand-tailored clothes. We've now seen those markets virtually disappear over the last decade or two" told Bama Athreya, deputy director of the International Labor Rights Fund in Washington D.C. to ABC News.
Even donated clothes are going to landfill
Based on a report by CBC Canada, 25% of donated clothes is resold locally, 25% is sold secondhand abroad, 30% are broken down and used as rags, 20% is reprocessed and finally 5% is ended up in a landfill.
What is going to happen to clothes we receive at Kleiderly?
Nearly 90% of all material used for clothing ends up in landfill, or is burned, producing tons of CO2 emissions, and 20% of global wastewater is produced by fast fashion. We keep clothes out of landfill by collecting them from charities and fashion retailers. We convert clothes into a new material to be used in various applications. By donating your clothes to us you can contribute to reducing CO2 emissions, ecological pollution by clothing, saving water and generally helping us to slow down the negative impact of fast fashion on our planet.
If you are still unsure about what to do with your unwanted clothes, you can check out 10 things to do with your unwanted clothes.