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Recycle Old Clothing with Planet Aid

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Are you curious where your old clothing goes? With summer fashion season approaching, shoppers are out admiring the hottest new styles and trends, but then they have to figure out where their old clothes go.

For most Americans, the answer is “the trash.” In fact, the average American throws away 70 lbs. of clothing every year… That’s about 191 t-shirts—or 1,146 miles of yarn—per American every year!

There are economic and environmental repercussions to this landfill dumping:

Economic: The average charge for landfill dumping is $100 per ton. Keeping 11 million tons of textile waste out of the landfills would save American taxpayers more than $1.1 billion every year.

Environmental: When your old clothes get buried in a landfill, they can contaminate soil and groundwater, take up valuable land, and emit some horrific odors. Or they go to the landfill’s giant incinerator, which spews out greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change.

And over 90% of discarded textiles sitting in landfills are perfectly recyclable! 

One solution can be found in those yellow boxes popping up on street corners near you. These boxes are fromPlanet Aid, a nonprofit clothing recycler that collects your good, bad, and downright ugly used clothing. This includes a mission that "protects the environment, reducing waste, and increasing the efficient use of vital resources." This not only gets old clothing out of your house, it also chips away at textile waste, one dirty sneaker at a time! This includes the recycling of over 100 million pounds of clothes and shoes every year with a plan to make it even easier for people to recycle old clothing and shoes with more and more bins popping up all across America.

To learn more about this program, we spoke with Planet Aid Spokesperson: John Nagiecki.

Momtrends: What do you generally accept in the yellow bins?

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Planet Aid: People can drop any kind of clothing and shoes into the bins—we accept any and all types of quality (“the good, the bad, & the ugly”). We find uses for each item of clothing/shoes that are donated. Tattered clothing, for example, can be turned into rags.

Momtrends: How did Planet Aid get its start?

Planet Aid: Planet Aid started out in the Boston area in 1997. The idea was to do something good for the planet and the poor. With only a few drop-off boxes and a rented storage unit, we started collecting clothes and shoes. It wasn't long before our small rented space began to overflow. We were clearly onto something. Though we grew fast, the aim remained the same: expand global environmental sustainability and mobilize resources to end poverty.

Momtrends: Why is it important that people recycle clothing and shoes?

Planet Aid: The average American throws away 70 lbs. of clothing every year, sending a total of 11.1 million tons of textiles straight to the landfill! Dumping theseclothes in landfills creates both economic and environmental consequences. On the economic side, keeping 11 million tons of textile waste out of the landfills would save American taxpayers more than $1.1 billion every year! And on the environmental side, clothing that gets tossed in a landfill can contaminate soil and groundwater, take up valuableland, and emit some terrible odors. Or they go to the landfill’s giant incinerator, which spews out greenhouse gases, contributing to climate change. So recycling clothes can help save us money and help save the planet!

Momtrends: Where do theclothes go after the get placed in the yellow bins?

Planet Aid: The clothes are sold to wholesalers and Planet Aid uses the funds from clothing sales to support development programs primarily in Africa and Central America and a few programs in India. We help train primary school teachers in Angola, Mozambique, and Malawi, establish clean water supplies in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, support sustainable agriculture and smallholder farmers in Guinea-Bissau, and prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS in South Africa and elsewhere. We also conduct school education programs about recycling, donate clothing to local charities and have been involved in providing relief supplies in natural disasters, most recently aiding Oklahoma tornado victims.

Stay trendy, but also remember to dispose of your clothing in an environmentally connected way.

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