Each year millions of pounds of clothing are tossed away by their owners and piled up in landfills. People have clothes that they have outgrown or no longer find desirable, and rather than bringing them to a donation center they simply put them in the garbage can.
The Gaia Movement USA believes that it’s possible and needed to change this. No other nation on earth goes through clothing at quite the same pace as the United States. By some estimates, each American throws away an average of 68 lbs. of clothes each year.
Textiles and clothing account for about 4.5% of landfill usage. Many of these clothes are made from synthetic materials and contain dyes that are toxic when they decompose, IF they decompose at all. For these reasons, we in the Gaia Movement have made it our mission to ensure that as few clothes as possible go to waste. Throughout the year, we collect gently used clothes, shoes and accessories through drop-off bins and donation events.
Reusable items are sold by the pound to local thrift shops and secondhand wholesalers. The unusable clothes get sold to textile recyclers who can turn them into rags, insulation, upholstery stuffing and other products. The benefits of Gaia’s clothing re-use program are fourfold.
- Reusable items that would have otherwise gone into landfills are offered back to the community. Low-income individuals have access to wearable and good and affordable clothes.
- Clothing that gets a second life reduces the demand for new clothes, so resources involved in manufacturing fabric (like pesticides, petroleum and water) are used to a less degree.
- The money that is made from selling used clothes goes to support local and international environmental and educational programs.
- People in the community come to recognize that there is a need for donations. They learn to be less wasteful and more socially and environmentally aware. Gaia staff members also run collection drives to gather warm coats and winter accessories to distribute to people in need for those. During the cold months, a warm jacket can make a great difference.
- There’s absolutely no good reason why a gently used piece of clothing or a good pair of shoes should end up in a landfill when it could still serve another person. There are too many environmental problems that accompany acts of waste. The Gaia Movement USA urges that taking the time to sort your unwanted possessions and bring them to the appropriate donations sites makes all the difference in keeping our planet cleaner and our communities happier