Here’s What REALLY Happens When You Donate Your Clothes To Goodwill

You won’t believe what happens after items are donated to Goodwill. A recent investigation is shocking Americans to the core and causing them to change their ways forever. Everyone needs to know this!

Goodwill was founded in 1902 in Boston by Rev. Edgar J. Helms, a Methodist minister. He collected used household goods and clothing in wealthier areas of the city, then trained and hired those who were poor to repair the used goods.

Since then, Goodwill has been doing its best to let “one man’s trash be another man’s treasure,” offering household goods and clothing at inexpensive prices. Goodwill also spends 82 percent of its revenue on employment and training programs for disabled individuals and those who struggle to find jobs.

However, what you donate to Goodwill doesn’t always end up where you think it would.

At some point in our lives, most of us have filled up a bag of old clothes and household knick-knacks to donate to our local Goodwill. We hope the unwanted items can be recycled instead of tossed in the trash — but most people are unaware of what goes on behind-the-scenes after they drop off that bag.

Huffington Post decided to interview Goodwill employees to find out exactly what happens to our donations. What they discovered is waking up Americans everywhere.

Employees begin the process by sorting through donated items and determining what can and cannot be sold at the store. Most items pass the test, except for “wet or mildew-y” items, which may be unsafe or too deteriorated.

Anything that hasn’t been purchased within a month gets sent to the Goodwill outlet stores, which sell items at an even lower discount in hopes of clearing out the inventory. What happens to the items the outlets don’t sell really shocked me. I can’t believe I never knew this!

Goodwill holds live auction events where attendees can buy a bidder’s card for $1 and walk away with all sorts of items for an unbelievable value. For example, some bidders purchase an entire box of clothing for just $35.

“Typically you’re saving 90 percent off the retail price,” Ellen Thornhill, Communications Manager for Goodwill, told WWBT. Great deals include the two-piece sofa set frequent auction-attendee Melvin Ward walked away with for $1.

Goodwill also offers online auctions, which has gained popularity in recent years. You can buy drastically discounted vintage clothing, instruments, collectibles, and more.

But that’s not the end of what happens to Goodwill donations.

Any items or clothing that doesn’t sell in stores or in an auction gets donated to textile recycling organizations. Unfortunately though, a significant amount of clothing still ends up in landfills.

  • About 20 percent of the remaining clothing items get repurposed as fiber filing for things like insulation and furniture stuffing.
  • Approximately 30 percent gets shredded into rags for various industrial purposes, while 45 percent gets re-sold at other secondhand companies within the U.S.
  • That all totals 95 percent, leaving the last 5 percent of donated clothing to the landfills. The textiles that end up in landfills are typically moldy or otherwise hazardous.

Textile waste makes up about 12.8 million tons in American landfills. In 2012, Americans generated over 28 BILLION pounds of textile waste in the form of clothing and other household fabrics. If more people opted to donate reusable items and properly dispose of hazardous ones, we could significantly reduce this alarming amount of waste.

Despite all the effort Goodwill makes to put its donated items to good use, there is always some waste at the end of the journey unfortunately. However, there are several other ways you can be a part of the solution.

Here are three simple ways to save money and reduce clothing waste:

1. Swap parties

Instead of purging those unwanted clothes, you can declutter and refresh your wardrobe with a clothing exchange. It’s a new trend where friends and family gather to offer barely-worn clothes and impulse buys to each other.

From special-occasion pieces you’ll never wear again to everyday items you forgot were in your closet, it’s a chance to swap and sample styles between the varying individual tastes of your inner circle. You’re not only saving cash and reducing clothing waste, you’re also creating priceless memories that will be cherished forever.

2. Resell

You can stay local and split the profits with a neighborhood consignment shop, but there are also plenty of convenient resell options available online. Facebook garage sale groups and eBay are one of many ways to resell your clothes online.

Websites like thredUP both prepay you for items they then resell and also consign higher-end brand pieces, all through their trendy online storefront. Poshmark is another great option that even offers virtual shopping parties. In fact, reselling clothes on Poshmark is so easy that the company claims you can list items for sale in less than 60 seconds.

3. Rags to riches

Do you have an old pair of bootcut jeans that just aren’t in style anymore? Instead of getting rid of them, your neighborhood tailor can taper them into skinny jeans while saving you the cost of a brand-new pair.

Small hole in your sweater? You can easily stitch it up like new. T-shirts faded? Use them as comfy pajama tops. Hopelessly ripped T-shirt? Cut it into some rags for household cleaning projects.

Refresh your wardrobe while saving cash and serving your community. Give one (or all) of these tips a try! What’s in your closet?

Featured Image Credit: Magnus D./Flickr / Embedded Image Credit: Daian Gan/Pexels / bixentro/Flickr