Two hundred and ninety-eight

Donating used clothing

In the spirit of giving things away that you already have and don’t use (like the canned goods), I finally finished sorting through all my clothes, shoes, purses, and belongings that I’m giving away to the Goodwill.  I don’t really understand the human attachment to material things.  I don’t even wear those shoes anymore and that sweater doesn’t even fit me, and yet I have a hard time choosing to put it in the “to go” bag.  How often have we all said: “maybe I’ll fit into it someday”?  Too many times.  If it sits in my closet never being worn for years, what use is it to anyone.  Someone out there will love it and wear it all the time.  Why not give that yellow cashmere sweater that every time you put it on you realize it’s not your colour a good home?  It is someone out there’s colour, so just LET IT GO.  (I might be talking to myself as much as I am to everyone else).

I admit, I am a bit of a pack rat.  I only just threw away two years ago a pair of shoes I had since grade nine (my friends can attest to this – it would drive a few of them insane that I still wore them)!  My theory is if I still get use out of them why waste my money, time and the environment buying something new.  But I’m not sure why I have such a hard time giving away those things I never wear.  Sometimes it’s sentimental value – a special person gave it to me, or I got it in Paris when I was 23 (I still can’t get rid of this one tank top that represents a specific moment in time that floods me with memories – even though it will forever sit at the back of my drawer).  Sometimes I just think it’s so cute and I hardly got any wear out of it that it’s a shame to let it go.  But as I said above, LET IT GO already, Lindsay!

I’ve been doing a bit of research of places to take my used clothes.  (Note first: try not to donate clothes with holes in them or armpit stains – they usually end up in the garbage anyways.)  There are lots of places to drop off your bags full of old garments, but some are better than others.  A lot of bins in mall parking lots and such go to for-profit companies where only a very small percentage goes to charity, so beware of those.  Goodwill and the Salvation Army are good ‘registered charity’ choices, where store profits go to helping people in need.  Value Village is a for-profit company, although they do buy used clothing from charities to re-sell in their stores.  Then there are women’s shelters who use the clothing directly, or smaller companies like Dress for Success Toronto or Dress Your Best for Men that take new and lightly used professional clothing and shoes for disadvantaged women and men looking for work.

About 50% of clothes donated that can’t be used in stores are sold to overseas dealers to sell in Africa, Indonesia and South Asia.  There is some controversy about this.  See Now Magazine for more details and other places to donate your used clothing.

So, moral of the post: LET IT GO if you aren’t going to wear it and it’s in good shape.  The clothing or the money gained from selling the clothing could go to disaster relief, palliative care hospitals, helping the disabled, shelters or many other good causes.