You’re cleaning out your closets and generously decide to donate some clothes and old shoes.  You bundle them up and drop them off in one of those ubiquitous donation bins. You probably assume that it’s going to be sold in some local thrift shop or given away to poor people. Think again.
  • 85% of used clothing is thrown away in the USA  – only 15% is recycled. Six percent of our landfill is made up of used clothes.
  • Many people are under the mistaken impression that clothes that are torn or stained cannot be donated.  Since much of the recycled clothing gets turned into rags or housing insulation, virtually any textile is worth it. (click here for more)
  • Internationally, a quarter of all garments sold — an estimated one billion pieces of clothing — are thrown away every year.
  • Environmentally this causes major problems, as growing the cotton used in one T-shirt can require 2,500 liters of water or 8,000 liters for one pair of jeans.
  • Zimbabwe outlawed the sale of used underwear. (click here for more)
  • Different Western countries use different words to describe used clothing  – often  referring to them as “dead white man’s clothes”. (click here for more)
  • Each year the US Super Bowl generates a huge amount of gear in advance of the game’s result. The losing side gear cannot be sold in the USA due to NFL rules, so it enters this trade.
  • Extra large shirts are a tough sell in Africa, so a group of middlemen specialized in resewing them into slimmer, more stylish shirts. Here’s the math:  a T-shirt is imported to Kenya for 15 cents. It is resold (sometimes more than once) for 45 cents. Someone then gets 12 cents to cut it up, 18 cents to tailor it and 14 cents to wash and iron the shirt. Then a vendor buys it for $1.20, with plans to sell it for $2 to $3.
  •  Check out the incredible five part Planet Money series on how a T-shirt gets made.
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