Charities are seen commonly as the ethical way to throw away unwanted clothing but it isn’t always the best solution. Having had the chance to experience working behind the scenes at a notable UK charity, it was interesting to learn how donations
are sorted and processed. A system where worn, damaged and unstylish clothing is ragged, where high street and premium are separated for pricing levels and how seasonal trends are taken into consideration to further entice the consumer into seeing the charity
shop as a contender for the high street, in fact a few are now modelling their charitable business on that style, to be more like a retail store with the atmosphere and environment of a clothing shop.
I have always loved browsing and buying in Charity
shops from clothing to household and books and I have many much-loved items that I wear over and over. It gives me great pride to feel I have not only bought a piece which is essentially unique, saved clothing from landfills but given money to a good cause.
But what happens to the clothing that is rejected and ragged?
Charities use textile recycling companies who pay them for their rags, companies like RTS who recycle the clothing they get to developing countries. They come across as an environmentally
and socially responsible company who run their vehicles on biodiesel and use recycled materials for their stationary, they also established the Sankreacha Foundation.
‘’The Sankreacha Foundation was set up with the
aim of reaching out and giving back to our community and is the official charitable platform for RTS Textile Recyclers. Since RTS Textile Recyclers was established almost 25 years ago, the
Sankreacha family have led with the belief of giving back to those in need.’’
ARB is another company used who are less transparent
but deliver over 1,560 tonnes of textiles to Ghana every year.
Bristol Textile Recyclers (BTR) Ltd ''is a family run business in the UK which has been around since 1972. Every day they receive 20 tonnes of textile/clothing diverted
from landfills and each month they load 20 – 40 containers to ship them off for reuse in Eastern Europe, central Africa, and South Asia, 12.5% remains in the UK for reuse and recycling, this creates more trade and commerce. BTR aids charities by collecting
and paying for their unsold donated clothing and textiles. They also fundraise for other organisations with events such as upcycling workshops, clothing drives, and recycling banks. They send about 30 vehicles out around the country every day collecting textiles
and return to the warehouse where they are all put onto the conveyor for sorting. Here it is also weighed (people dropping off can get cash for weight on their textiles) and graded, grading ensures there is Zero waste.''
Other organisations like WRAP and TRAID ….
‘’WRAP works with governments, businesses, and communities to deliver practical solutions to improve resource efficiency.
Our mission is to accelerate the
move to a sustainable, resource-efficient economy by:
- re-inventing how we design, produce and sell products,
- re-thinking how we use and consume products, and
what is possible through re-use and recycling ‘’
WRAP reports are a must read,a recent report published analyses
potential barriers and the economic practicalities for fibre to fibre recycling.
‘’TRAID is a charity working to stop clothes from being thrown away. We turn clothes waste into funds and resources to reduce the environmental and
social impacts of our clothes. It is a circular and sustainable approach to the problems of clothes waste tackling disposal, production and consumption by:-
- Increasing clothes reuse across the UK reducing waste, carbon emissions
- Funding international development projects to improve conditions and working practices in the textile industry
- Educating people of all ages about the impacts of textiles on the environment
and people’s lives, and how we can make more sustainable choices’’
TRAID have shops in London but also
have clothing banks in many locations across the country.
''Donating Trends in the UK 2018'' is a report produced by the ''Third Sector.co.uk'' to look at and research data comparisons over the years, analysing whether habits have changed
by looking at how people donate, why, and preferred methods, peoples perceptions of charities and trends of varying regions.
However as said at the beginning the charitable solution isn’t always the best, there has been a real problem growing
with our rejected clothing items going to the poorer countries like Africa, They don’t want it anymore….. Western society disposes of so much that the countries who receive our cast offs are drowning in it
The Business of Fashion reported
on the issues of exporting our secondhand clothing to third world countries, an interesting read which also mentions India’s role in this market.
‘’the mass influx of cheap hand-me-downs from Western countries has had a negative
impact on local apparel industries and production in low-income countries.
…To this point, the governments of the East African Community (EAC) — the regional organisation that comprises of Kenya, Rwanda,
South Sudan, Tanzania, Burundi and Uganda — plans to outlaw all secondhand clothing imports by 2019, in a bid to boost domestic manufacturing.....
…..says Tewari. “Once worn and torn by the poor,
millions of clothes go into third world landfills, far from the affluent countries. Where is the accountability of first world countries dumping used goods on third world grounds?”
(KATI CHITRAKORN OCTOBER 16, 2017 )