Where Used Clothing Goes

Where I live, there are at least a half-dozen places to get free clothing. Churches have sales of truckloads sent down from the North for "the poor people of Appalachia." There's certainly more than will ever be needed. Clothing is not a scarce resource. In fact, charities send tons of the stuff to textile recyclers.
Most Americans are thoroughly convinced there is another person in their direct vicinity who truly needs and wants our unwanted clothes. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Charities long ago passed the point of being able to sell all of our wearable unwanted clothes. According to John Paben, co-owner of used-clothing processer Mid- West Textile, “They never could.”

There are thousands of secondhand textile processors in the United States today, mostly small family businesses, many of them several generations old. I visited Trans- Americas Trading Co., a third- generation textile recycler in Clifton, N.J., which employs 85 people and processes close to 17 million pounds of used clothing a year. Inside Trans-Americas, there is a wall of cubed-up clothing five bales tall and more than 20 bales long. “This is liter­ally several hundred thousand pounds of textile waste, and we bring in two trailer loads of this much every day,” Trans-Americas president Eric Stubin told me. The volume they process has gone up over the years alongside our consumption of clothing.

So what happens to this huge volume of cast off fashions? Slate has the story. Link  -via Breakfast Links

(Image credit: Flickr user MikeR.....)

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