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100% of the Clothes You Donate are Sold!

January 16th, 2007 · No Comments

The truth about where your donated clothes end up is an alarming read from abcnews.com. According to the story, less than 10% of the clothes received as donations are sold to local thrift stores. The rest are sold to textile recyclers. So make that 100% of the clothes that are received as donations being sold to either thrift stores or retailers.

It does not end there, however. The “recyclers” often don’t recycle the clothes. They sell them by the pound to exporters who export them to third-world countries, where the clothes fetch upward of 500% profit when sold to the poor folks. That is right, some guy in Bourkina Faso could be wearing your odl GAP jeans.

I have always find the premise of charity at Salvation Army’s auctions to be rather preposterous. If you have been one of their furniture auctions you will get to see very few poor people (truly deserving of charity) getting their hands on any of the items. Mostly there will be the well-dressed male or female buyer who reminds you of furniture sellers, or worse, yourself. So, in the name of charity those-that-don’t-really-need-it get a bargain, while those that do are left wondering where the hell to get essential stuff at the price they can afford.

This reaffirms the decision I took to not drop off old clothes at “charity” drop-offs. I usually put them up at the freecycle mailing list. Now freecycle is a unique service – there should be a mailing list for the city you live in. The idea is that you list the stuff you want to give away for free, and other freecyclers will come and pick it up from your house. I once gave away 5 mattresses left behind by old roommates, and beleive me, it went to a family of 7 who desperately needed it. The glow in their eyes was worth more than any amount I would have got at Salvation Army, or the Goodwill store.

Another option for those interested in giving for charity are local area charities associated with religious institutions where you deal with a person, and where you can make sure your donated items are redistributed for free locally. If you look hard you will find a variety of options. And, needless to say, don’t ever donate your car – I suspect Car Donations are the biggest scam since Frozen Waffles… more on that in a later post.