Say you’ve decided to clean out your closet and you find yourself staring at a pile of clothing, realizing you don’t wear most of it. According to the Pareto principle, you probably wear 20 per cent of your clothing 80 per cent of the time. Maybe some of it is outdated, old, threadbare, or just not your style anymore. Before you throw these clothes in the trash, consider the many local thrift stores that accept donations.
It’s great for the environment
Have you ever thought about what happens to your clothes once you throw them away? In Montreal, clothes that get thrown away end up in landfills. The dyes and fibres from these fabrics pollute groundwater, release high levels of harmful methane as they decompose, and wreak havoc on the air quality when incinerated. Donating your clothing will not only repurpose these items for someone else, but it will also reduce the harmful impacts of the fast fashion industry.
Many students on campus have already started their journey to help those in need, such as Prune Broudehoux, a member of the Commerce and Administration Student Charity Organization (CASCO) at McGill. Broudehoux recently organized a clothing donation event to collect funds for the Montreal Children’s Hospital.
“Financially, donating clothes can help support vulnerable groups that cannot afford to buy new clothing,” Broudehoux said. “Environmentally, I find it very important to give clothing a second life instead of throwing them away.”
It helps those in need
Many organizations will sell the clothing you donated at a lower price (or even give it out for free) to those who cannot afford them. Lost in a pile of sweaters, shirts, and pants stacked in your bedroom, an old piece of clothing you no longer wear could help unhoused people or lower-income individuals who are in dire need of affordable clothing.
Cassiopée Laugier, a third-year political science student at Concordia University, is passionate about giving back to her community. In an interview with the Tribune, she explained why she started donating clothing.
“Today, I am trapped in a culture that relies on overconsumption,” Laugier said. “Having accumulated many items of clothing over the years, the more I buy, the less I wear each item. I would rather give this clothing to others in greater need than see them lying unworn around my closet.”
It’s easily accessible to give
Some charitable organizations in Montreal collect clothing, sell it to those in need, and use these funds to provide assistance to economically marginalized groups through food donations, housing, and counselling. A great place to drop off your clothes is the Chaînon. Located on St. Laurent, the Chaînon is a thrift store that sells clothing donated from the community at affordable prices.
In an interview with the Tribune, store manager Patrice Mongeau explained the organization’s mission: “Our goal is to welcome women in difficult situations by offering safe housing and assistance to tailor their needs. The funds generated through our clothing sales then help our association.”
The Chaînon remains an ecologically sound organization every step of the way. If the clothing they receive is too damaged to sell, it gets recycled—so all items are welcome.
“Although the clothing we sell in the store needs to be in good condition—that is, no stains, holes, or broken zippers—we will accept anything handed to us because we recognize that there is always a good intention behind a donation,” Mongeau told the Tribune. “The damaged clothing will go to recycling companies.”
Whether you see donating clothing as an opportunity to lend a helping hand to the planet like Broudehoux or wish to fight overconsumption like Laugier, donating clothing is a great way to give back to the community. Try spending an afternoon sorting through the items of clothing in your wardrobe, and fish out the handful of shirts, pants, or sweaters that you never wear to give them to someone who will make better use of them.