How Recycling Your Old Clothes Can Help Someone in Need Across the Globe

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According to recent estimations, the typical American will throw away nearly 70 pounds of clothing and textiles every single year. That’s bad news for the environment, as old clothes tend to pile up in landfills, but it’s also bad news for the thousands of needy families that could benefit from those clothes if they were only donated instead of tossed away and forgotten about inside a dumpster.

Luckily, a leader in clothing recycling has some good news to offer. Jackie King, the executive director of SMART (Secondary Materials and Recycled Textiles), says about 3.8 billion pounds of donated clothing each year goes on to be recycled. But why is this good news? After all, can’t those threads be used to help folks on the lower rungs of the economic ladder?

The answer, of course, is that they are. And what’s leftover is then recycled into substances that can provide a multitude of uses for people all over the world.

One of the main uses for recycled old clothing is to be broken down and converted into wiping cloths that get used extensively in the commercial and industrial realms. This typically happens to the clothing that’s not in the best shape, as ripped or ragged textiles become harder to re-sell in secondary markets. Quite a bit of the top-notch clothing, however, gets sent across the globe, including to places like Africa, Asia and Central and South America. Once it’s arrived in these markets, it’s an easy sell — mainly because imported Western styles are hard to come by.

For you, the person just looking to clean out your closet, the simple act of tidying up has international benefits. Local clothing donations (especially those tied into charity organizations) play a huge role in helping disabled veterans here at home as well as strengthening the economies of depressed markets in war-ravaged nations. That’s the most important reason to avoid tossing out a garbage bag of old jeans, sweaters and T-shirts at the nearby dump.

Depending on where you live, there are always local clothing donations centers ready and willing to take on your old clothes. It’s better to offer up what you have and let them decide what the best use for it is. After all, the right pair of pants in the right hands can become monumentally important — in plenty of different ways. Remember that the next time you’re clearing out some space inside your dresser.

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