Do Donations of Clothing Really Help People in Need? The Answer May Surprise You


Purple heart charity pick up

Each year, at least 70% of Americans give to charity one time or more. That number represents billions of dollars in both cash donations and donated items, including clothing and household items. But many people are hesitant to give because they wonder whether or not their clothing donations will help anyone.

Is anyone actually helped by donations of clothing?

The short answer to this question is “yes.” The longer answer depends on how the clothing is donated, but rest assured that any used clothing donations you may give do actually help others. Clothing donations are broken down into three categories. Most are given directly to causes for helping families in need. About 20% of all clothing donations are given to secondhand shops, where they typically go on to benefit people in need with the proceeds; they also sell clothing at a low cost, which is also beneficial to families in need. The remainder of clothing donations, typically anything that’s not considered salvageable, is then sold to recycling companies, which break the fabric down to remake it into something else. This helps keep clothing out of landfills.

Donating clothing is eco-friendly… but what about people?

One argument for donating clothing to charity that many people hear is that it helps the environment. This is, in fact, true: donations of clothing to charity help reduce the amount of textile waste in landfills. Around 99% of the 12 to 13 million tons of clothing thrown away is considered salvageable, yet just around 15% of it is truly ever recovered. By limiting clothing and textile waste, the effects of pollution can decrease significantly.

But how does that impact people, you may wonder? Many countries where pollution runs rampant are burdened with waste from other countries, where it can cause disease and hinder the quality of life for many people.. The United States is the biggest culprit, contributing about 11 billion tons, or 30% of the world’s waste, each year, and that trash has to end up somewhere. Even here in the United States, pollution of all types has a negative impact on communities. Anything that the average person can do to limit waste can help keep people healthier.

If you have questions about giving your donations of clothing to charity, make sure to do your research first. Find a cause you’d like to support, and give them any donations you have on hand that they can use. Have more questions about how and where to give? Leave a comment in the space provided.