Sunday, 15 February 2015

Everything is useful to somebody

Hello. I've been having a sort through of my clothes, some of them have seen better days so I think it would be a good idea to move them on. I can recycle some of them myself by using them in sewing projects, I've now got two pairs of pants stitched into the landscape picture, ha ha. The charity shop can have some of them, but I am a bit reluctant to pass them anything that they can't sell in their shop. Some fabrics work well as cleaning cloths, dish cloths, and dusters, but what to do with the rest? I thought anything that is unusable for any other purpose would automatically be dumped in a hole in the ground, until I saw an article on the BBC website, 'Where do your old clothes go?'



The story goes that charity shops only sell a proportion of the donated clothes in their shops, the rest they sell for export. The Charity Retail Association says that 90% of garments handed over go on the racks in the shop, but Dr Andrew Brooks argues that many donors don't realize that the majority of the cast offs they hand over will be traded abroad. The Waste and Resources Action Programme which is a government agency working to reduce waste, estimates that 70% of used clothing is sent overseas. The UK is the second largest exporter behind the US.

Most people believe that what they give to the charity shop will be sold there, that isn't the case. I remember seeing a lorry loading up with bags of clothes being brought out of the front door of a charity shop. I asked the driver what was happening. He told me they will get sorted, and baled, then exported in a container to the other side of the world.

Some people might feel that their donations shouldn't be used in this way, turned into a commodity that can be bought and sold several times, each trader making a profit on the deal. The charity shops sell them on and they are passed on down the line. If you look at the article and click on the films, you can see that the end users are people who have very little in the way of personal possessions, and those doing the buying and selling are able to make an income for themselves and their families.

We in the western world have got far too much, it makes sense to pass things on to those who need it, wherever they are in the world. I don't care if my clothes end up in Ghana, or Kenya, or Pakistan, or even cut up and sold as rags, as long as they are useful to somebody.

I hope the BBC link works for everyone, it's an interesting and informative article with links to other related sites. So the moral is, don't be picky about which of your clothes the charity shop will take, they can make money on all of them. You don't even have to take them to a shop, you can use the bags and they will be collected, or you can put them in one of the hundreds of clothes banks found in car parks. My council leave us bags to use and they are collected with the bins. This is something I feel passionate about, we should not be throwing anything away if someone else can make use of it. Do your bit and recycle.
Thanks for popping in.
Toodle pip

24 comments:

  1. I've been aware of this for decades and I've never had a problem with it. I really wish we had clothing recycling here in the States. Also, on a personal note, I'm a big fan of t-shirt towels in the kitchen. Cut-up t-shirts make the BEST dust rags, too.

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    1. We do actually, but depends on your locality. Private charities and some municipalities do it... you may have to do some homework, though, to find out a place near you.

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  2. Patty, we do have clothing recycling here. Anything not sold by Goodwill etc. eventually gets sent overseas. JanF

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    1. Our Goodwill ( largest charity shop in town) has a $1.29 Monday, when all items of a certain colour go for that amount, having been around a month at full price and 4 days at half price. Each Monday a small group of Ukrainian ladies (from their church) go through the aisles and end up with an overloaded trolley of clothes and shoes. I asked one of them about it, she said they have team which volunteer to do this. The items are mailed to the Ukraine and ( although normal postage would be prohibitive) they are given a special discounted rate by the U.S. Postal Service. Isn't this wonderful? Jan F again

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  3. Do you know Labour behind the Label and their Six Item Challenge?

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  4. According to the website earth911.com, only a part of unsaleable clothing is sent overseas:
    "Once your old clothing is sold to a textile recycler, it may find new life in a few different ways. According to Secondary Materials and Recycled Textiles (SMART), a nonprofit trade association of companies that recycle these materials, 45 percent of used apparel is sent abroad to countries where the demand for secondhand clothing is high, 30 percent become wiping and polishing cloths and 20 percent are turned into fibers for things like upholstery, insulation and furniture stuffing. Only five percent of the textiles purchased by these companies are unusable."
    When I donate ratty old clothes that I know can't be sold, I place them in a bag on which I write "for rags" in large letters.
    DM

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  5. I have just given away a huge amount of stuff via free cycle. Maybe they want it for themselves, maybe they save it all for a boot sale. Good luck to them and someone will benefit. X

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  6. I love to recycle, reuse ,rehome, repurpose (in fact I believe it is my responsibility) to do whatever it takes to reduce the impact of my "footprint on the planet". Great that a charity gets the benefit...great that things get used in developing countries...fantastic that it does not end up in landfill. I do not need a lot. Rampant consumerism is frightening. I have enough clothing and stuff. Love the idea of adding clothing to art work....you are very creative and always think outside the box. Cheers.

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  7. I make loans through KIVA ...usually to women wanting to buy bundles of clothes to resell...it's wonderful being able to help people all over the world make a better life for themselves...I was fortunate being born in the USA and never want to take that for granted...thanks for sharing the BBC link...

    my rag basket is overflowing...time to fill up some bags for the local animal shelter...

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  8. I used to be a deputy manager in a charity shop. Anything that was thought could not be sold in the shop was sent to the textile recyclers (each charity shop has a customer profile - the type of majority customer that the shop has.eg young and trendy or low income shoppers etc, etc. The textile recyclers will either send it abroad or if the clothing is too rough, it will be made into industrial wipers (basically this means wiping cloths used in industry). Natalie

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  9. Apparently over 70% of the world's population wear second hand clothes. We are, of course very rich in this part of the world, even if it doesn't always feel like it.

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  10. When I moved a few years ago I had a lot of cloth for sewing, accumulated over the years. I brought some with me but took a lot of it and made bundles to give to the cat home. I would cut the pieces so they would fit into a cage, then sew a few layers together to flatten them so the cats could sit on them; and they could be washed. (Now I'm using a lot of it for Christmas decorations.) The pile is going down! Maggie from Florida

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  11. Such an interesting and informative post. We need cleaning cloths for work so we buy bags of "rags" from our local St. Vinnies charity store. These are clothes which cannot be recycled and cut up. Like Kelley I make loans through Kiva, it's a wonderful organisation♥

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  12. I'm happy that stuff I put in charity bags will do good for someone...anywhere.

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    1. My sentiments exactly.

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  13. I saw this on Facebook and thought it was interesting.

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  14. Yes, it's true that used clothing is sold abroad. Small business people buy the clothes in bales and then sell them to make a living.

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  15. Hi.After reading your topic and watching the video on BBC I became curious about what Canada does.The Globe and Mail article I found said that textile recycling is a billion dollar industry and Canada"s share of that is 74 million.It is a very lucrative industry.Very interesting.As Charlotte P says"I'm happy that stuff I put in charity bags will do good for someone...anywhere" Ditto for me too, and I shop at the charity shops.We are still in extreme temperature alert here today and had more snow last night.Thank you for the info today,bye for now, D.

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  16. Charity shops will take rags too. They can sell them by the bag so don't feel bad about passing on unwearable things.

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  17. Thank you for this post, things have to be really bad for me to chuck things in the bin, in my element at the moment helping out at a charity, that does not concern itself with the highest margin for things and happy to give things away for 50p and free to the needy families depending on circumstances, its nice if selling stuff meets some of the bills but it is not the main focus as its more a community hub for the local people, incorporating, foodbank, job shop, counselling, free pc use, etc etc. home packs are made up for free for youngsters that have nothing, elderly people visited in their home if they are under the weather, gift packs made up at xmas for those on low income and so it goes on. It matches my morals, there are no big paid ceos raking in the profits, its wonderful really :) If you don't mind posting this heres the link its local to the midlands http://www.thethomasproject.co.uk/activities Julie Taylor

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  18. Some folks think that it makes it okay to keep on feeding their appetite for more new stuff if they just constantly recycle the other to charity. There is a far bigger picture to all this. One of my many concerns about this type of recycling is the fossil fuels in transporting all this stuff. A good book to read on the topic is "The Story of Stuff" by Annie Leonard. She has a website as well.

    Ilona, I put a happy blurb and a link to you blog from a post on mine. I hope you don't mind, I'll remove it if you like. http://leguminouslife.blogspot.com/

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  19. It's especially nice to make donations of clothing when you're an odd or hard-to-fit size, as we all are in our household. The men (DH and sons) wear short inseams, as in about 28 inches. It's difficult to find pants in stores that fit properly, be it jeans or slacks, so when they're replacing old items via gifts to them or deeply discounted sales, donations are made to Goodwill. I'm short and chubby. Which is also hard-to-fit. My old clothes go to charity as well unless I personally know someone close to my size who could use them, because occasionally I get clothes as gifts that aren't in a flattering color or cut. I've donated several garments that are new with tags still on. Anything not an "average" size is much appreciated by charities.

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