The many steps of the donated clothing process

Dec 28, 2016

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Amazon is teaming up with Goodwill to make donating as simple as filling up a box.

According to Boy Genius Report,  in an effort to prompt people to give a little more, Amazon through its Give Back Box program, is making it easy for people to donate, by having customers reuse boxes that contain Amazon items, packing them with unwanted clothing, accessories and household goods, and sending the box via UPS or the U.S. Postal Service to the nearest participating Goodwill, using a free shipping label that can be found at the company's givebackbox website

In related news, the Huffington Post reported last month where clothes donated to Goodwill actually go.

Goodwill is one of the biggest U.S. landing points for donated clothes, but those items don’t go right from one’s closet to a buyer. There are actually several steps involved in the process.

Step one: After someone donates a bag of clothing at a Goodwill retail store, employees go through the items to determine which can be sold and which cannot. Other than clothes damaged by water, most items are fair game. Items that end up on the retail floor are sent onward in the process if they don’t sell within four weeks.

Those items that go unsold then go onto step two, to Goodwill outlet stores, where the aim is to liquidate the items by offering them for ultra-low prices with the overall goal of keeping the items out of the landfill.

Those items that go unsold at Goodwill outlet stores move onto step three, Goodwill auctions, where attendees can bid on bins of donated items without knowing the content of what they are bidding on.

If clothes don’t get sold in the first three steps, they go on to textile recycling organizations like S.M.A.R.T., a trade association, whose independent member businesses work to recycle textiles.

On average 45 percent of clothing that makes it to S.M.A.R.T is either re-sold through the U.S. used clothing industry or sent overseas, which is known to cause major disruptions to textile industries in developing countries, as reported by the Huffington Post

About 30 percent of donated clothes at S.M.A.R.T get cut into rags for industrial use and 20 percent is processed into a soft fiber filling for furniture and home insulation, among other things.

And those clothes that are wet, moldy or otherwise contaminated? They are sent to landfills.

The Huffington Post reported in June that an estimated 26 billion pounds of textiles and clothes end up in landfills each year.