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What Happens to the Clothes You Donate?

Ever wonder what organizations, such as Goodwill, actually do with the clothes you donate? In a nutshell almost nothing goes to waste. Here's how it works with Goodwill.

Step 1: The Goodwill Retail Store

Goodwill operates more than 3,200 individual stores. When you donate a bag of clothing at a store, workers most likely parse through it to determine what can be sold and what can’t. Everything that's in decent condition will make the cut. This means no stains, no rips, no missing buttons. If an item doesn’t sell within four weeks, it’s on to Step 2.


Step 2: A Goodwill Outlet

Whatever doesn’t sell on the retail floor goes to a separate "Buy the Pound" outlet store or a 99 Cent Goodwill store. Prices are kept ultra-low to encourage purchases. At these stores, the goal is to liquidate--to keep as much out of landfills as possible.


Step 3: Auction

Whatever isn’t sold in outlets moves on to Goodwill auctions. These are live events where attendees bid on bins of donated items without knowing precisely what’s inside. An auction bin might sell for as low as $35.


Step 4: Textile Recyclers

If clothes weren’t able to sell in those first three stages of the process, Goodwill sends them to textile recycling organizations. On average, 45 percent of clothing that makes it to one of these organizations is either re-sold into the U.S. used clothing industry or sent overseas into markets with more demand. About 30 percent of donated clothes get cut into rags for industrial use, and 20 percent are processed into a soft fiber filling for furniture, home insulation, car sound-proofing and more.


All this means there is no good reason to ever throw clothes in the garbage--even if they are worn, stained, torn or missing buttons. Whatever you take to Goodwill or most other secondhand shops will be put back into use somehow.


Most of this information came from an excellent Huffington Post article: https://www.huffpost.com/entry/what-does-goodwill-do-with-your-clothes_n_57e06b96e4b0071a6e092352.


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