Donated clothes not always going to those who need them, local group says

On Wednesday, the local non-profit group Trusted Clothes is holding a clothing swap to raise awareness about where donated clothing actually goes. The group says just 15 per cent ends up in thrift stores, while the other 85 per cent are thrown out or sent to Africa.

Just 15 per cent of donated clothing ends up in thrift stores, non-profit Trusted Clothes says

On Wednesday June 6, a non-profit group called Trusted Clothes, is holding a clothing swap. (Felicia Latour/CBC)

Some of the clothing you donate to a good cause may not be going where you think it is, a local non-profit says.

When clothing is dropped off at donation bins, just 15 per cent of this clothing ends up in thrift stores where it is recycled in the community, said Shannon Shroecker, executive director of Trusted Clothes. 

The other 85 percent go into landfill or much of it is sold for profit to places like West Africa, she said.

"Tremendous amounts of clothing get shipped in these huge boat containers to places like Africa where only small portions of it get used," Shroecker said. "We export about $500,000 worth of used clothing from Kitchener-Waterloo in a year."

Clothing that goes into landfill will remain forever, releasing toxins.

"A lot of our clothes, especially clothes that are made out of polyester, can take up to 40,000 years to decompose," she said.

Textile waste 'a huge issue'

On Wednesday, Trusted Clothes is hosting a clothing swap. Shroecker hopes the event will begin to raise awareness about the problems with the textile industry.

"Waste in the textile industry is such a huge issue that people don't know much about," she said. "We're hoping a place like Kitchener, which started the blue box recycling program, could be really open to a message about further recycling and bringing new ideas to the table."

The clothing swap will take place between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. at 283 Duke St. W., in Kitchener. Clothing can be traded for other items.

Shroecker said they'd like to make the swap a monthly event.


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