Military charities are always on the lookout for increased donations and helping families in need across the country, especially military families. Most of all, they are interested in clothing donations for these military charities, and organizations exist to pick up these used clothes and send them where they are needed the most. This need is ongoing, and donating to this cause can go a long way.
Today’s Clothing Waste
The garment industry is massive: every year, the U.S. can generate about 25 billion pounds of new textiles, and the average American woman today has an outfit for every day of the month. Not all of it is new; every year, an average American will buy 10 pounds of old or used clothing.
However, for how huge the garment industry is, the wastefulness of it all is apparent. A lot of old clothing is thrown away rather than donated, and all these clothes end up at landfills, a practice that military charities hope to cut into. A total of 12 million pounds of textile waste is generated nationally every year (around 82 pounds per person), and only a fraction of these used clothes and textiles end up being used elsewhere instead of ending up in landfills. In 2011, for example, 2 million tons of clothes and textiles were recycled or reused for other purposes, just a modest share of the total used clothes. And among that 2 million pounds (which is a yearly average), only just under half is actually worn by another person in need. The rest is cut up into industrial rags or used as furniture stuffing, meaning that veterans and low-income households in need don’t get as many old clothes as they potentially could. Veterans charities hope to reverse this trend.
What To Do
The clothes for veterans and military charities exist. The question is getting enough used clothes into the right hands, and how. It is believed that 95.4% of Americans take part in charitable giving of some sort, to various degrees, so perhaps this charitable power could be channeled to donate clothing to those in need. In 2011, the recovery rate for used clothes was around 15.3%, but if that were boosted to 20% or even 30%, perhaps hundreds of thousands of military families in need, the poor, and the blind could have clothes on their backs. Cities and towns across the nation have local donation guidelines for potential clothing donations, and once these criteria are met, any donor could bring their unwanted clothes and send them into the charity system, where volunteers and staff can make sure these old textiles help veterans and their families, and impoverished households. There will always be old clothes; the issue now is to put them on the right track to aiding others, and not swelling the size of trash mountains in landfills.