Waste Reduction Week is celebrated globally from October 19th to 25th to help bring awareness to an important environmental initiative that can often be difficult to see in our every day lives. How many items of clothing or household items did you purchase this year? How long will you use these items before they find their way to your garage or basement, or worse yet, get thrown out?
Unfortunately, for most people, the answer is not very long. One garbage truck of clothes is burned or sent to landfills every second globally. The current system of clothing production, distribution, and use sees large amounts of non-renewable resources being extracted to produce clothes that are often disposed of in under a year. As fast fashion permeates our consumer culture, the average person is buying more clothing and keeping it for a lesser period of time – and the cost of this pattern might shock you. Just consider these facts:
- • It takes 2,700 liters of water to make one cotton shirt, the same amount that would meet the drinking water needs of the average person for two-and-a-half years.
- • To make one pair of jeans, the equivalent of driving a car more than 129 kilometers is produced in greenhouse gases.
- • After ending up in local landfills, discarded clothing made of non-biodegradable fabrics can last up to 200 years.
Shift to thrift! ♻️
As education and awareness grows about the toll of producing and buying new items, people have increasingly turned to thrifting. Through retail recycling, donations of gently used clothing and household items are diverted from landfill and given a second life to make a local impact to savvy thrifters and neighbours in need.
In fiscal year 2019 – 2020 The Salvation Army Thrift Store diverted over 39 million kilograms of used clothing, household items and furniture from local landfills. In fact, of all textiles donated to us, we estimate less than 1% finds their way to a local landfill. The remaining 99% are sold in our Thrift Store or recycled with ethical recycling suppliers who are able to turn damaged or worn textiles into usable items like carpet padding and upholstery stuffing. The funds raised help bring care to individuals and families in need while also reducing waste.
As National Director of Business Development and Sustainability Tonny Colyn explains, the concept of environmental sustainability is woven throughout the entire lifecycle of donated items at The Salvation Army Thrift Store. “Not everybody equates donating clothing and household items as an environmental initiative, but it certainly is,” says Colyn, “Donating is itself an act of recycling by diverting goods from landfill and ensuring that these items are given another chance at life. So too is shopping second-hand, as you are reducing the strain caused by the production of new goods.”
Dan Kinsey, National Director of Distribution and Recycling, witnesses first-hand how shopping and donating second-hand makes a difference. “When something like a donated shirt is sold that money helps our many services beyond our Thrift Store,” says Kinsey. “It’s a great story to tell because that piece of clothing is going towards helping our communities and a whole new chapter of reuse and recycling begins.”
As an individual, you can celebrate Waste Reduction Week, clear out your closet, and score fabulous new-to-you finds simply by donating and shopping at your local Thrift Store today. We also welcome partners – whether they are other organizations, municipalities, or businesses – that can assist us in continuing to build stronger, greener communities. To find out more, call 1-888-333-1229.