Donating clothes - The simple act that makes a big difference

Andrea Speranza, Head of Campaigns and Education at TRAID shares the importance of clothes donations for charities.

As a re-use charity, TRAID knows first-hand about the transformational impact of clothes donations.  We also know about the need for initiatives such as Donation Generation to inspire more people to donate their unwanted clothes.  

But if you have already joined the Donation Generation or are considering doing so, you might wonder what happens to the donated clothes?

Making a big difference for good causes

It’s difficult to imagine that a woolly jumper that someone got for Christmas or a pair of black trousers that no longer suits someone’s style can play their part in allowing charities like TRAID to be able to do so much good work. But, they can. Around  £295 million[1] is raised  by UK charity shops each year through people’s clothes donations: from teaching kids in schools about sustainability to researching how to beat life threatening diseases; from putting an end to animal cruelty to helping people get back to work, charities rely on your unwanted clothes to be able to do all that charitable work.

In TRAID’s case, we don’t ask the public for money or rely on any grants. TRAID’s only source of fundraising is the selling of second-hand clothes that people pass on to us.   

So, what does TRAID do with those donations? Between 2008 – 2018, TRAID’s work on reusing and reselling donated textiles raised £46,946,607 towards our charitable objectives. In this era of climate emergency, with the clothes people no longer needed we were able to support UK schools in delivering education for sustainability as well as helping local authorities to increase their recycling rates and reduce CO2e.  But TRAID also supports projects in India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Benin and Ethiopia to improve the working conditions of women garment workers and cotton farmers.    

Clothes donations benefit everyone

Clothes donations don’t only help others. They help everyone. Charity shops are a source of volunteering opportunities in our local communities. According to the Charity Retail Association, nearly a quarter of a million people volunteer[2] in charity shops and some 6 per cent of them have worked or volunteered in a charity shop at some point in their lives, equating to nearly 3 million people across the UK. Indeed, volunteering provides multiple benefits such as gaining new skills, increasing a sense of belonging to your local community, improving confidence and helping jobseekers enter paid employment.

Clothes donations also help to create green job opportunities. The charity retail sector employs around 24,000 people[3], creating jobs in economically depressed regions. A London-based charity such as TRAID employs more than 100 people as clothes sorters, drivers, shop assistants and managers.  

When you donate your unwanted clothes, you are also playing your part in tackling the climate emergency:  the 11,200 charity shops across the country divert over 327,000 tonnes[4] of textiles away from landfill and into reuse and recycling per year and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by about 7 million tonnes through their re-use activities. 

If you have not joined the Donation Generation yet, sign-up today and pledge to donate all you unwanted clothes.

Andrea Speranza,
TRAID Head of Campaigns and Education