Why people keep doing the one thing they shouldn't with old clothes.

Imagine this: You're walking through a mall or scrolling through your favorite fashion blog and then BOOM. You see it. The jeans you want — nay — need to have.

GIF via "María la del Barrio."

It doesn't matter that you just bought new jeans. These jeans are different. These jeans are the pair you've been wanting since, like, forever.


Sound familiar? It's a cycle that repeats itself with practically every article of clothing.

Here's the thing, though: What are you going to do with your old pair? The answer for many people is to throw it away.

Not donate to a charitable organization. Literally throw it away.

Image via iStock.

26 billion pounds of clothing goes to the landfill every year. That's 84% of all clothing and textile waste. Only the remaining 16% is actually donated.

But here's the kicker: The Secondary Materials and Recycled Textiles Association (SMART) found that 95% of all worn or torn textiles can actually be reused or recycled!

So why aren't people donating these clothes?

Well, there are a lot of misconceptions around what can and can't be donated.

The main one being that people underestimate the potential of used clothes. In the 2017 State of Reuse Report commissioned by Savers, 62% of people who admitted to throwing clothes in the trash did so because they thought their stuff wasn't good enough to donate. (It probably was.)

Image via iStock.

In the same report, 75% thought torn or soiled clothes could not be recycled. In fact, they can! According to SMART, any kind of clothing can be repurposed or recycled as long as it isn't wet or contaminated with harmful substances such as paint or oil.

If more people knew that, would it make a difference? Well, in the same Savers report, 75% of respondents agreed with the following statement: "If I better understood how my actions hurt or helped the planet, I would be more likely to make environmentally conscious decisions."

Image via iStock.

There are many reasons why it's great (and easy) to donate old clothes. For one thing, it doesn't take as many resources to give those old clothes new life.

Remember those jeans from earlier? It can take more than 1,800 gallons of water to make one new pair. New cotton T-shirt? That can take up to 700 gallons of water — more than the average person drinks in five years. But if you donate an old pair of jeans or a cotton shirt for someone else to buy, that's less of a burden on the planet over time.

Image via iStock.

And that's just water savings! It takes nine pounds of fossil fuels to make one cotton shirt, so think of all the other resources that reusing saves, too.

All it takes is a little time and understanding to make a world of difference.

In fact, there are things you can do right now to lead the change. For starters, if you have clothes or other household items that you don't want anymore, don't throw them in the trash.

Instead, donate them at nearby donation centers, such as a local Savers thrift store, or donation bins in your community to give these items the second life they deserve and bring someone else joy.

Image via iStock.

Remember, donating benefits local charitable organizations and the very neighborhood you live in. In fact, your donations turn into funding that fuels these organizations’ missions. So by reusing and recycling locally, you're giving neighbors a chance to put great items to good use.

On top of that, spread the word with family, friends, neighbors, and coworkers to get as many people as possible following suit. That way, the next time someone clears out their closet, they'll remember the road their clothes took to get there — and how they can affect that cycle in a big way.

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Courtesy of Macy's

In many ways, 18-year-old Idaho native, Hank Cazier, is like any other teenager you've met. He loves chocolate, pop music, and playing games with his family. He has lofty dreams of modeling for a major clothing company one day. But one thing that sets him apart may also jeopardize his future is his recent battle against a brain tumor.

Cazier was diagnosed in 2015. When he had surgery to remove the tumor, he received trauma to his brain and lost some of his motor functionality. He's been in physical, occupational, and speech therapy ever since. The experience impacted Cazier's confidence and self-esteem, so he's been looking for a way to build himself back up again.

"I wanted to do something that helped me look forward to the future," he says.

Enter Make-A-Wish, a nonprofit organization that grants wishes for children battling critical illnesses, providing them a chance to make the impossible possible. The organization partnered with Macy's to raise awareness and help make those wishes a reality. The hope is that the "wish effect" will improve their quality of life and empower them with the strength they need to overcome these illnesses and look towards the future. That was a particularly big deal for Cazier, who had been feeling like so many of his wishes weren't going to be possible because of his critical illness.

"In the beginning, it was hard to accept that it would be improbable for me to accomplish my previous goals because my illness took away so many of my physical abilities," says Cazier. His wish of becoming a model also seemed out of reach.

But Macy's and Make-A-Wish didn't see it like that. Once they learned about Cazier's wish, they knew he had to make it come true by inviting him to be part of the magical Macy's holiday shoot in New York.

Courtesy of Macy's

Make-A-Wish can't fulfill children's wishes without the generosity of donors and partners like Macy's. In fact, since 2003, Macy's has given more than $122 million to Make-A-Wish and impacted the lives of more than 2.9 million people.

Cazier's wish experience was beyond what he could've imagined, and it filled him with so much joy and confidence. "It is like waking up and discovering that you have super powers. It feels amazing!" he exclaims.

One of the best parts about the day for him was the kindness everyone who helped make it happen showed him.

"The employees of Macy's and Make-A-Wish made me feel welcome, warm, and cared for," he says. "I am truly grateful that even though they were busy doing their jobs, they were able to show kindness and compassion towards me in all of the little details."

He also got to spend part of the shoot outdoors, which, as someone who loves climbing, hiking, and scuba-diving but has trouble doing those activities now, was very welcome.

Courtesy of Macy's

Overall, Cazier feels he grew a lot during his modeling wish and is now emboldened to work towards a better quality of life. "I want to acquire skills that help me continue to improve in these circumstances," he says.

You can change the lives of more kids like Cazier just by writing a letter to Santa and dropping it in the big red letterbox at Macy's (you can also write and submit one online). For every letter received before Dec. 24, 2019, Macy's will donate $1 to Make-A-Wish, up to $1 million. By writing a letter to Santa, you can help a child replace fear with confidence, sadness with joy, and anxiety with hope.

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