Use It Up – Wear It Out – Make It Do!

Nature’s systems do not generate waste. When will we learn that there is no away? We say we’ll throw it away, but away doesn’t exist. That’s why nature is full of loops and cycles – Joel Salatin, Folks, this ain’t normal, 2011

Donate Your Clothes For A Better World


7 million tons of carpet sent to landfills—all of it could be recycled, but mostly it’s not

  • 19 billion pounds of polystyrene peanuts (Styrofoam) dumped—never degrades, impossible to recycle
  • 35 billion plastic bottles
  • 40 billion plastic knives, forks and spoons
  • 5 million tons of office paper
  • Enough aluminum to rebuild the entire commercial air fleet four times over
  • Enough steel to level and restore Manhattan
  • Enough wood to heat 50 million homes for twenty years
  • Enough plastic wrap to shrink-wrap Texas
  • Plastic waste is so plentiful and so carelessly treated that 92 percent of Americans have potentially harmful plastic chemicals in their urine
  • 10 percent of the world oil supply is used to make and transport disposable plastics
  • Growing, shipping, and selling food destined to be thrown away uses more energy than is currently produced by offshore oil drilling
  • No less than 28 billion pounds of food thrown away, about 25 percent of the American food supply, perhaps more by some estimates

Information courtesy: Edward Humes, Garbology: Our Dirty Love Affair with Trash, 2012

“Savers”, global thrift retailer, has been diverting reusable clothing and household goods from landfills for more than 60 years. Savers commissioned the “State of Reuse Report” after learning that the average U.S. citizen will throw away 81 pounds of clothing this year alone – 95 percent of which can be reused or recycled. According to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, reusing goods is better for the environment as it reduces the need for additional resources to make new products.

“People are unaware of the amount of clothing they throw away because, in general, they don’t fully understand how much they are consuming and the amount of natural resources that go into making new clothing,” Tony Shumpert, Savers vice president of recycling and reuse,

Here is the report:


Report says that one challenge to getting people donates clothes is that they are not sure whether a clothing item can be donated or not. The standards of accepting used clothes varies in the thrift industry as some stores don’t accept clothes that are not in a perfect condition.

One in three people reported not knowing whether more than 90 percent of textiles could be reused or recycled, and 17 percent believed they could not be. Nine percent of those who do not donate noted that it is because they are not sure how or where to donate goods. The misinformation and perception about what can and cannot be donated is, perhaps, adding to the 26 billion pounds of textiles people send to landfills each year. People need to know that 95 percent of their unwanted or unneeded clothing and textiles can be reused or recycled.

The survey also highlighted an important emotional and perceptual upside to donating that could help to foster greater adoption of reuse. When people were asked how they feel after removing unwanted items from their home, results were strong for “accomplished” (49 percent), “productive” (45 percent), “refreshed” (29 percent), and “happy” (27 percent). When respondents were asked how they would describe people who regularly donate used goods, responses included high marks for “thoughtful” (68 percent), “generous” (67 percent) and “environmentally conscious” (49 percent). Not surprisingly, people perceive donating is a good thing, and it reflects well on those who do it. That being said, campaigns to increase the rate of donations could capitalize on this “feel good, look good” aspect of donating, in which everyone gains.  This adds further evidence indicating the need to continue to educate people on how participating in the reuse cycle is beneficial for them, their families and communities. The fact that people already perceive donating as a good thing, and that it reflects well on those who do it, is likely to quicken the pace of adoption.

When people extend the useful life of their stuff by donating used items to nonprofits or buying used goods at secondhand stores, they are contributing to the circular economy and helping to reduce solid waste in landfills, pollution and the use of precious water and energy resources. This is an important goal and one that raises the question of how we can bring more people into this virtuous cycle.


Benefits of Reducing and Reusing

  • Prevents pollution caused by reducing the need to harvest new raw materials
  • Saves energy
  • Reduces greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global climate change
  • Helps sustain the environment for future generations
  • Saves money
  • Reduces the amount of waste that will need to be recycled or sent to landfills and incinerators
  • Allows products to be used to their fullest extent

One person’s trash is another person’s treasure. Instead of discarding unwanted appliances, tools or clothes, try selling or donating them. Not only will you be reducing waste, you’ll be helping others. Local churches, community centers, thrift stores, schools and nonprofit organizations may accept a variety of donated items, including used books, working electronics and unneeded furniture.

Benefits of Donation

  • Prevents usable goods from going into landfills
  • Helps your community and those in need
  • Tax benefits may be available


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