The textiles industry stands as among the largest in the entire world, and it involves the production of bedding, table linens, and most of all, clothing. After all, everyone needs clothes to wear in everyday life, ranging from casual pants and shirts all the way to outdoor coats or hiking boots to formal wear, or even military or work uniforms. The United States, in particular, is the world’s single largest market and producer of clothing alike, and the average American consumer now buys twice as many clothes as they did just 20 years ago. In fact, the average American woman today owns one outfit for every day of the month, a lot more than the typical nine in 1930. It may be noted that old clothes can and typically should be donated to charity clothing pickup sites such as veterans charities or support for military families, and many Americans indeed make these donations. Veterans donations are always happily accepted, and veterans charities may be found across the United States. How might someone donate to these veterans charities, and help keep this trend going?
Rates of Donations and Waste
The bad news is that while the textiles industry is a large one, it also has the lowest reclamation rate out of all industries that deal with recyclable materials. Glass, paper, plastic, and steel are robustly recycled, but Americans are urged to help textiles catch up to prevent rapid landfill growth. Currently, in the 2010s, the textile industry has a reclamation rate of around 15%, meaning that a great majority of old clothes are simply thrown away instead. An estimated 12 million tons of old textiles are discarded and end up in landfills every year instead of being sent to veterans charities, and this figures out to 70 pounds of discarded textiles per person annually. Some old clothes are recycled and shredded to form industrial rags or furniture stuffing. This prevents clothes from ending up in landfills, to be sure, but many argue that sending old clothes to veterans charities is a better idea.
Meanwhile, the good news is that Americans have long since proven that they have a robust charitable spirit, and increasing clothing donations may be a simple matter of stoking that existing spirit. While many clothes are discarded, many others are indeed given to charity all year round, and many such clothes are also sent around the world to help needy communities across the globe. Americans not only donate many old clothes, but also home goods and percentages of their income as well. Charity is often at its strongest during the winter holidays such as Christmas and Hanukkah, but in fact veterans charity sites are open every day of the year, and often 24 hours each day, to accept donations. This may make it easy and convenient for anyone to donate to those charities. How might this be done?
Making the Donations
It is likely that most households have more clothes than they need, and some have far more than they even use. Some American consumers tend to compulsively buy clothes on sale and stockpile them, but hardly ever wear them. In any case, a household may start by gathering all clothes and personal accessories from across the house (or apartment) and assemble them into a single pile on the floor. Such a pile may end up being quite large. This creates a convenient inventory, since clothes may be more difficult to track if they are scattered across the house. Anything and everything may go into this pile, such as coats, scarves, gloves, shirts and pants, dresses, and even hats and sunglasses.
Everyone in the household may sort through all of this and determine what they want to keep, and what they may choose to give away. Clothes to be donated may be worn out, redundant, or out of fashion or even the wrong size. These charity-bound cloths may be packed into boxes or bags for easy transport, and the rest will be put back in dressers and closets. Meanwhile, the charity-bound clothes can be taken to a local drop-off site and given to the volunteers working there, and the donor may receive a tax rebate form for the clothes’ total value.