All the ways you can upcycle your old clothes for good
Say yes to donating the dress — or any of your gently used clothing.
With fall soon underway, it’s the perfect time of year to purge your closet for clothes you don’t need and give them to someone less fortunate.
The amount of clothing that’s thrown away in the U.S. has doubled in the last 20 years from 7 million tons per year to a whopping 14 million tons — that’s an alarming 80 pounds per person, according to Newsweek. Throwing out clothes is also a giant waste of money. Cities pay $45 per ton of waste that’s sent to landfills nationwide.
While donating does good, it also helps to boost confidence in underprivileged young people who can’t afford to buy new clothes.
“We live in a world where there’s a lot of pressure among both men and women to look a certain way and in style with brands putting out new clothing trends. But a lot of these kids don’t have the financial ability to go out and get the clothes to attend an event like homecoming. The financial struggles can isolate them socially,” Sam Sisakhti, the founder of Believe In Yourself, a foundation that provides brand-new, never-worn dresses to low-income girls around the country, told Moneyish.
The initiative, which launched last January, is on target to provide 10,000 dresses to girls in need by the end of this year alone.
“By alleviating that pressure, by saying ‘here’s a dress’ they feel like they can attend this social event,” he added.
Here’s where to donate each item of clothing to people who need them most.
Make your dress the life of someone else’s party. Believe in Yourself Project collects evening wear for young women aged 13 to 18 around the country to wear to their homecoming dances.
Sisakhti and his team work with Boys and Girls clubs across the country in low income areas in cities like Philadelphia, New Orleans, Boston and Chicago to get a list of girls who need the clothing most. All of the young women will have a shopping experience where they’ll get to browse through brand-new dresses. Those who are in the program are then asked to name a goal for the year that they want to achieve, and they’re also able to work with volunteer mentors through Believe in Yourself to make it happen.
To donate a dress or become a mentor, email firstname.lastname@example.org for shipping instructions. And visit here.
Dress for the job you want. That’s the empowering impetus for the non-profit Dress for Success, an organization that provides a network of support, like professional development, and work attire for women to thrive professionally.
The initiative spans across 150 cities in 30 countries and has helped more than one million women become economically self-sufficient. Women interested in getting involved can donate gently used clothing and/or make a financial donation by visiting the Dress for Success website and finding a drop off location that’s closest to you. There will also be a list of dates for the next donation day, so be sure to mark your calendar.
And, if you really want to get involved, Dress for Success is always looking for volunteers and mentors to help coach women on their path to achieving their professional goals. Visit here.
You only get to wear it once, so might as well share it with another bride-to-be. Brides for a Cause, a bridal store that raises funds for charities, collects and resells wedding dresses. They’ve collected more than 100,000 wedding dresses and given away more than $520,000 to various local and national charities across the country.
To donate, dresses must be from 2013 or newer as well as bridal accessories. Applicants can apply by filling out a form, including how much the dress is worth. Then they can either drop off the dress at a nearby location listed on the website or mail it in the shipping address at 2505 SE 11th Avenue, Suite 120 Portland, OR 97202.
Other donation sites like Brides Across America provide gowns for military and first responder brides that are burdened with financial struggles and family hardships like deployments. Donators simple provide basic details about the gown like size, style, alterations and year purchased, and if chosen, Brides Across America will send through shipping instructions. You’ll also get a receipt for your tax-deductible donation.
Other donation sites for causes include Adorned in Grace, an organization that resells donated gowns and accessories and gives all of the proceeds to initiatives that prevent sex trafficking aide survivors in need. To participle, dresses must be no older than five years old and can be dropped off at a nearby location, or mailed in to listed locations.
Jeans and denim
Go green with your blue jeans. Recycle old worn denim into insulation by keeping textile waste out of landfills. The Blue Jeans Go Green program collects denim around the country and turns it into insulation in homes for communities in need each year. It takes roughly 500 to 1,000 pairs of jeans to create enough insulation for one average sized home in the US.
The Blue Jeans Go Green program makes it easy — simply drop off an old pair at local partners, like J. Crew or Madewell, which will in turn give you $20 off a new pair.
No one should be left out in the cold. Donate your winter coats with One Warm Coat, a national non-profit that works to give any person in need a jacket. Coats are distributed in communities where they’re collected to children and adults. You can also set up your own coat drive via the OneWarmCoat.org website by selecting a date, and location and registering your drive online via the application and then publically promoting it.
Find out where the nearest coat drive in your city or town is by typing in your zip code into the map. If you want to help a woman and child specifically, consider donating to Women In Distress, an organization that helps provide safe shelter and services to women and children who are fleeing abusive households.
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