Donate used lingerie
Got some used bras or lingerie that could use a good home? Great! Keeping them out of landfills by giving them to someone else who can get some good use out of them is a great way to green-up your unmentionables.
Find it! Where to donate your used lingerie
Donating your old lingerie to a thrift stores helps the environment because it is essentially a form of recycling! Nearly any piece of clothing can be donated to a thrift store or charity as long as they're in reasonable condition. Many organizations offer pickup services (check to see if there are any minimum bag requirements), or you can drop off donations yourself. Items should not be dumped outside a facility after hours because they could be stolen or damaged. You also won't get a receipt for any donations that are tax-deductible. The Salvation Army and Goodwill Industries publish valuation guidelines for donated items.
Dress for Success offers disadvantaged women a hand up by providing professional attire, a network of support, and the career development tools to help them attain economic independence. The group is looking for donations of interview-appropriate suits, separates, shoes, and other accessories.
This group matches donations of business and household items, including clothes, with the wish-lists of nearby nonprofits that can pick up items or will accept drop-offs. It operates in the US, Canada, and beyond.
Goodwill sells donated goods in more than 2,000 retail stores. As of 2006, Goodwill stores had sold more than 2 million items received from more than 58 million donors.
Project Underwear, aka P.U., collects new and gently used underwear and distributes them to poor children in third world countries. It's run by one woman who lives in Venezia, Italy. You send the underwear to her address and she delivers it to the children. After she's delivered the underwear she sends a postcard to the family or child who donated the underwear.
Donating used lingerie helps you go green because…
- It cuts down on the amount of discarded clothing and textiles that ends up in landfills each year.
Donating to thrift stores helps to support the second-hand movement, where there are few, if any, environmental repercussions. New lingerie, sustainable or not, always has some attached environmental impact. Consider the transport of silk fiber from China to a manufacturer in Canada, the lax environmental regulations in developing countries where many clothes are made, or the resources used in the cultivation and production of fibers.
Fiber cultivation and production
Synthetic clothes can be made of petroleum-based products like nylon or polyester, or wood-based fabrics like rayon and acetone. The search for and procurement of petroleum has had major detrimental impacts on the soil, ground water, surface water, and ecosystems of the US and around the world. Petroleum refineries release toxic, hazardous air pollutants, such as BTEX compounds, and criteria air pollutants, like sulfur dioxide. Wood-based synthetic clothes eat up a lot of water and chemicals during the extraction process. By choosing secondhand clothes, no additional resources, chemicals, or pollutants are required to manufacture what you wear.
Conventional cotton is considered to be the world's most pesticide-intensive crop. In the US, an estimated one-third pound of agricultural chemicals are used to produce a single cotton T-shirt. The various chemicals used to treat conventional cotton can harm beneficial insects and soil micro-organisms, pollute ground and surface water, and adversely affect the health of humans and wildlife—including fish, birds, and livestock.
The farming of cotton is also water-intensive. Approximately 400 gallons of water are required to produce a single cotton T-shirt. Buying secondhand means that no additional cotton had to be grown to produce your clothes, keeping harmful chemicals out of the environment and saving water.
An estimated 10.6 million tons of textiles were generated in 2003, with the average American discarding about 68 pounds of clothing and textiles per year—85 percent of which ends up in landfills. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has shown that even state-of-the-art landfills, those with the latest technology for liners and operating
methods, will eventually leak, releasing potentially hazardous chemicals from discarded items into the groundwater. Donating your old lingerie to a thrift store or charity can help cut back on the amount of textile waste that goes to landfills.
Donating also saves the lingerie from being incinerated. The incineration process releases different chemicals into the environment depending on the material of the garment.
Some secondhand stores operate under the name of a charity, but are operated by for-profit companies that may not use the full amount of revenues to support the mission of the organization. Get the information you need about a potential secondhand store so that you can make an informed decision by determining whether the outlet is operated by a nonprofit or for-profit organization. Goodwill Industries International, Inc. has a checklist to make sure your money and donations go to a good cause.
- US Environmental Protection Agency - Jobs Through Recycling: Textiles
- Textile Fibers & By-Products Association
- Secondary Materials and Recycled Textiles Association
- US Geological Survey - Environmental Impacts of Petroleum Production
- Organic Consumers Association - Clothes for a Change: Background Info
- Pesticide Action Network North America - The problems with conventional cotton
- US Geological Survey - Water Facts
- Council for Textile Recycling - Don't Overlook Textiles!
- St. Paul Curbsider