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Second Life for Secondhand: What Happens To The Stuff We Donate? | Episode 21

Ah, January. A time for rest, relaxation, reflection, and C-Span?  In the midst of decluttering and downsizing for the year ahead, Dina ended up down a rabbit hole of articles and C-Span interviews that got her thinking more deeply about the other side of thrifting: the donation cycle. What happens to the clothes we donate? What are some of the misconceptions around donating clothing? How can we become more mindful about what and how we donate in the upcoming year?  In this episode, we answer these questions and more, like should we start a Tik Tok dance series?

Links from this episode




 Rethriftrodeuce Podcast on Facebook

Secondhand: Travels in the New Global Garage Sale

Adam Minter discussion on C-Span

Adam Minter interview on NPR

What happens to the clothes you donate them to Planet Aid?

Four quick & easy things will help improve the overall donation cycle:

ONE: Donate items you’re no longer wearing or using, especially those higher quality items.

Holding on to a sweater from two years ago that still has the tags still attached? Have a bridesmaid’s dress you wore once tucked away in a closet? Or maybe you have a bin of “just in case _____” clothes (insert your excuse here: lose weight, my daughter might want this). Releasing our emotional attachment to valuable and quality things we no longer have use for can be a remarkable thing. Remember: The better quality the donation to a local charity, the more likely it will be purchased or used quickly and locally.

TWO: Be more selective about what you buy in the first place.

Much of what we purchase will eventually end up in the donation stream. Cheaply made items are not made to last, therefore having a greater chance of ending up in a landfill. Higher quality items have a greater chance of having a new life after they are donated.

For example, this is the problem with fast fashion and the decline in quality clothing. After these items are worn 1-10 times and end up in a donation bin at a local thrift store, some either might not sell or in some cases aren’t even put on the sales floor because the quality is so bad. So they get sold to textile recycling buyers who can’t recycle them into rags and might have difficulty reselling them to markets in other countries.

This responsibility also lies greatly on the companies manufacturing new clothing.

THREE: Donate your stuff to a cause you believe in.

It can be very difficult to let go of our stuff, especially when it’s expensive, or has a strong sentimental value. Finding a resale charity or organization with a mission that you believe in makes that process a little easier. It helps to know that my donation is going to a good home through an organization making a positive impact on my local community. There are dozens upon dozens of charities that accept secondhand clothing to support their mission. Look into one that speaks to you on a personal level.

FOUR: Experience the thrift store as a shopper, not just a donor

If you frequently donate to a thrift store but never pulled around the front to shop, consider giving it a chance! Experiencing a resale store as shopper in addition to a donor is a great way to become more mindful of you what and how you donate while understanding how thrift stores operate on the “other” side!

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Allow us to Rethriftrodeuce Ourselves is a podcast about secondhand shopping hosted by two treasure-hunting friends, Dina & Shannon. Subscribe today. 

For more about the podcast visit dinasdays.com/podcast.

The music sampled in the podcast, Who Shot John and Audible Distraction, are written and performed by Dan Wilson.