We Americans love our clothes.
Every year, Americans buy almost 20 billion garments, which averages out to 68 pieces of clothing and 7 pairs of shoes per American annually, or nearly one and a half new garments for every American every week. And the price tag for all those clothes? According to Forbes, the average American family spends about $1,700 a year just on clothing.
If you don’t think you’d have anywhere to put all those clothes after a couple years, you’re in good company. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the amount of clothing Americans throw away every year averages out to 10 pounds per person. With a national population of over 320 million in 2015, that’s no small closet clean-out. But how else can you clear out all that clutter? Here are just a few reasons why you should consider making clothing donations next time you clean out your wardrobe.
- It’s Good for the Environment
If you were to send all your old clothes to landfills, they would eventually biodegrade, but synthetics such as polyester, nylon, rayon and spandex (which are present in a huge portion of our textiles these days) can take up to 200 years to break down completely. That means that, if James Monroe, the fifth President of the United States, had owned a pair of spandex bicycle shorts and thrown them away when he was inaugurated in 1817, they could still be in a landfill today.
Sure, some of the clothes we get rid of really are past being any good to actually wear, but a large percentage are just out of style or not longer fit. Bagging these up and sending them to a clothing donation center will keep them out of the landfill.
- It’s Good for the Economy
Every year, non-profits like the American Red Cross contribute $666.1 billion to the U.S. economy. Around 70% of Americans give to charity annually, donating around 3% of the yearly income of all Americans. Giving money is great, but some people don’t realize that it’s not the only – or even the easiest – way they can contribute. Making used clothing donations can allow charities to give clothes to the needy while saving their money for other programs. Choosing to donate clothes could even help charities that operate thrift stores make money to support the rest of their programs.
And did we mention that clothing donations are tax deductible? Just make sure to get a donation receipt from the charity at the time of your donation.
- It Helps Other People
On an ordinary evening in January of 2015, over 500,000 people were homeless in America. As of May 2015, the national unemployment rate was 5.5%. That doesn’t sound like a huge number, but in a nation of over 320 million, it works out to over 17.5 million people without a reliable source of income. There are potentially millions of Americans who can’t afford new clothes for their growing children, or can’t scrape together enough to buy a nice outfit for a job interview.
Your clothing donations could make all the difference to a down-and-out American. A cute dress your daughter has outgrown could provide another girl with something to wear for her choir concert or school picture, and the blazer in the back of the closet that you aren’t so keen on anymore could give another person the burst of confidence needed to ace the interview.
- It’s Easy!
Clothes donations don’t cost you anything, and they are extremely easy to make. The clothes don’t even need to be sorted; throw your clean used clothes in a trash bag and they’re ready to go. All you have to do is drop the bag off at the donation center the next time you’re running errands. If you have a lot to donate, you can simply call Red Cross pickup and they will come get the clothes from your house at a time that works for you– other charities offer donation pickup services as well.
Now that you know how easy it is, will you consider donating next time you clean out your closet?