Skip to content
Can thrift shopping and donating used clothing actually help the planet? - Big Reuse

Can thrift shopping and donating used clothing actually help the planet?

More than 100 billion new clothing garments are produced every year. In the annual production process, the fashion industry consumes 93 billion metric tons of clean water, cuts down 70 million tons of trees, uses 70 million barrels of oil in the manufacture of synthetic material, and releases 1.2 million metric tons of CO2. And what is the lifespan of most of these new garments? 65% of new clothing ends up in a landfill within 12 months. Less than one percentis ever recycled into new clothing. 

According to research from McKinsey, the trend toward "fast fashion" (rapidly produced, cheap clothing) has accelerated these impacts: the average consumers buys 60 percent more clothing than they did in 2000, and they keep it half as long. More disturbing: there is research that suggests that 20 percent of the new clothing in the US is never even worn; in the UK, it is 50 percent.  

With an environmental footprint this massive, how significant an impact can thrift shopping and donating used clothing actually have?

A pretty significant one, actually. Research reviewing clothing reuse in countries like Denmark and Sweden(where up to 46% of clothing is diverted from waste) has found that in Nordic countries reuse and recycling resulted in the conservation of 425 million pounds of CO2 annually, along with 19 billion gallons of water. There is a consensus among environmental researchers generally that extending the lifespan of a garment measurably reduces its environmental impact. 

You can support fashion sustainability by donating your clothing to places like Big Reuse or Housing Works! We welcome clothing donations at our reuse center seven days a week, no prior approval is needed. Clothing in wearable condition is resold, which keeps it out of the landfill and lessens the demand for new garment production. Damaged clothing is recycled by our partners who turn it into items like mops. And, of course, shopping secondhand rather than from unsustainable brands is always a great idea!
Older Post
Newer Post
Close (esc)

Giving Tuesday

Please donate to Big Reuse

Give Today

Age verification

By clicking enter you are verifying that you are old enough to consume alcohol.


Shopping Cart

Your cart is currently empty.
Shop now