We are actually going to go back into the closet to MAD this Thursday. There is a great need. You are part of the solution. Want to bet there is something you do not know about clothing and shoes? It is time to Make A Difference. Can you kill three birds with one stone?
Has your weight changed in the last year? If you put on a fashion show today with all the clothes in your closet and dressers, how many items would not fit you? Whether our weights change due to the onslaught of swimsuit season or the holiday spread, we all have something in our closets which does not fit.
Oh, it does all fit? When was the last time you wore it? If you have not worn something in more than one year, it is clutter. Yes, clutter.
1.5 Billion Pairs of Shoes
In American closets alone, there are more than a billion and a half pairs of shoes which have never been worn or been worn less than three times. Shoes are one of the most expensive portions of a wardrobe.
20 Billion Pounds of Textiles & Clothing
Every year, more than 68 pounds per person of clothing and textiles are thrown away. Although it is not edible, birds around landfills ingest it. When textiles, like sheets, towels and clothing, rot, they produce CO2 and other greenhouse gases. Each discarded million pounds of textiles produces 6.6 million pounds of air pollution. This is the equivalent of 115 cars, over their lifetime on the road.
300 Million Children
Children are the most frequent consumers of shoes because their feet are still growing. Shoes protect feet from harm and disease. 300 million children worldwide have either never owned or do not own a pair of shoes which fit them properly.
35 Million Poor People
People living below the poverty line have little or no resources to devote to clothing and shoes. Many will wear shoes which do not fit, causing foot, leg and back pain and damage which requires medical intervention.
3 Million Homeless People
Without a closet, washing facilities and adequate resources to replace clothing, homeless people rely on shelters and charitable organizations to exchange their soiled clothing with clean clothing. These are men, women and children. Homelessness does not age discriminate. Did you put on clean clothing this morning?
Half of the homeless women and children are refugees of domestic violence. When they leave, they take only the clothes they are wearing.
Worldwide, approximately 38% of homeless people will freeze to death due to inadequate shelter and lack of clothing, coats and blankets.
365,500 US homes will burn this year.
The last thing anyone thinks about when fleeing a burning home is packing a bag. These families represent 1.6 million people who have no clothing beyond what they are wearing. They are not included in the statistics for homeless persons.
Make A Difference
1. Go through your closet.
A. Remove all clothing and shoes you have never worn, have not worn in more than one year or do not fit you, either too big or too small.
B. Check and clean all clothing. Do not donate torn, dirty, stained or useless clothing. Do not discard it. Set it aside.
C. Look for all of the following:
- Bed linens
- Towels (kitchen and bath)
- Accessories (scarves, jewelry, hats)
2. Package the items.
Put items together according to size or type and label the boxes or bags. Separate shoes and accessories from household textiles.
3. Choose an organization.
While many organizations are great places to donate, do not choose those who sell the donated items to the needy. Choose one which gives the items to those in need. Choose based on the items you have to give. The following Google searches can help you find an organization.
- Used shoes for school children
- Used clothing for the homeless
- Donations for fire victims
- Donations for domestic violence victims
If you are not using Google Chrome or want more localized results, use the following search terms in your favorite search engine:
- Used shoes school children charity (add location)
- Used clothing donations homeless charity (add location)
- Donations clothing fir victims (add location)
- Clothing donations charity domestic violence victims (add location)
4. Box the items unfit for wear.
Keep these items from landfills by recycling them. Again, you have choices where to donate:
- Sewing group for veterans, the elderly, premature babies or the impoverished
- Planet Aid
- Local textile recycling center
- Charity who recycles textiles to generate funds for distribution
Sewing groups turn used fabrics into new clothes, blankets and other useful items for those who cannot afford them.
5. Host a clothing drive.
Get your friends, colleagues, teammates, neighbors or congregants (worship, politics, hobbies) to come together to donate particular items, seasonal items or textiles in general. Need some ideas?
- New socks and underwear (great back to school idea)
- Coats for (children, homeless, elderly)
- Business suits and dresses (Help someone get a job.)
- Bath, bed and kitchen linens
Even if you cannot de-clutter your closets or donate new items, you can donate your time to help organizations pick up, sort, fold, deliver or recycle textiles.
If you have nothing of your own to give or you want to supplement what you have with other needed items, shop for new textiles to donate.
Seasonal sales on clothing and linens do not cost much, but make the difference in people’s lives.
A suit or bridesmaid’s dress can dress an underprivileged child for a prom. A new coat can mean the difference between being warm and freezing to death for a homeless person. A package of new socks or underwear to a child living in a domestic violence shelter is a gift of dignity.
While some organizations will come retrieve your donation, it comes at a cost. Rather than spending the time of a volunteer and expending the charity’s needed resources on fuel, drop your items off.
Hand something to a homeless person. See yourself make a difference in real time.
You can MAD.
Donating clothing and textiles makes a significant difference in lives. It kills three birds with one stone.
The suit or dress you never wear could help someone be dressed properly for a job interview. Last year’s coat can keep someone warm. The blankets in the guest bedroom closet can keep someone from freezing to death. A new outfit and shoes to a school child helps foster confidence, which helps academic performance.
Keeping your textiles out of a landfill keeps greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere for cleaner air for everyone.
Making room in your closet relieves the stress caused by clutter.
Is there something in your closet you can donate? Will you make a difference by donating textiles or time? Have you donated to a homeless or domestic violence shelter? Did you know throwing away textiles affected the air as well as the environment? Will you make a commitment to MAD?
(c) Ann Marie Dwyer 2012
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