Welcome to Sustainability Week! While Fashionista covers sustainability news and eco-friendly brands all year round, we wanted to use this time around Earth Day and the anniversary of the Rana Plaza collapse as a reminder to focus on the impact that the fashion industry has on people and the planet.
It's an unfortunate fact that the fashion and beauty industries generate massive amounts of waste. Part of the problem stems from the fact that our appetite as consumers, especially in the West, is inherently unsustainable. The earth simply can't support the speed at which we consume new goods.
While there's no substitute for adjusting our shopping habits so that we end up buying less, but buying higher quality — that's what will have the biggest positive effect on the planet in the long run — doing our best to keep stuff out of landfills is a good move, too. That's where donation can come in. It might seem like an obvious choice, but the average American throws away 70 pounds of clothing and other textiles every year, according to the Council for Textile Recycling.
We rounded up some of the best places to take the beauty products and clothes you have lying around the house so that they don't end up in the trash. Whether you're purging in an attempt to quit fast fashion or you're an industry insider just trying to figure out what to do with the samples you're always being sent, read on to learn about organizations that can put your stuff to good use. And don't forget: Not all donations go to a good cause.
Fashion Forward for Charity
This organization exists to help charities with one of their biggest challenges: fundraising. Fashion Forward for Charity collects high-end donations via mail, sells them and donates 50 percent of the net profit to a charity of your choice. The range of charities that can benefit from FFC's programming ranges from the World Wildlife Fund to Unicef. Accepts: contemporary or luxury brand clothing
Dress for Success
Making sure you look the part for a job interview is an important part of making the right first impression that could get you hired — which is just what this not-for-profit organization tries to help women do. It provides professional attire, support networks and development tools for women looking to break the cycle of poverty by connecting them with meaningful work. Find a location near you (whether you're in the US or abroad) here. Accepts: lightly used professional-looking womenswear and unopened beauty products
Career Gear functions much like Dress for Success, but aims its programs at men rather than women and focuses specifically on veterans, recent immigrants, the previously incarcerated and recovering addicts. Donations are accepted at Career Gear's New York location and can also be shipped by donees outside New York. Accepts: lightly used professional-looking menswear
It may seem so obvious as to not be worth mentioning, but Goodwill is one of the best-known thrift store chains for a reason. It exists to create employment and educational opportunities for veterans, people with disabilities, ex-offenders and more, which it does both by employing them in its stores and investing the profits from donated clothing into relevant programming. With locations all over the country, it's easy to find one near you. Accepts: lightly used clothing
Salvation Army, like Goodwill, is a go-to thrift store with locations everywhere. Its programs include food distribution, disaster relief, rehab centers, anti-human trafficking efforts and childrens' programs, all of which are funded by donated clothing sales and charitable giving. You can even schedule a free pick-up online if you want someone from Salvation Army to come get your donations from your home. Accepts: lightly used clothing
The Bowery Mission
The Bowery Mission has been addressing social issues in New York City since 1879 by providing food, shelter and other programming targeted at the city's homeless population. The Mission accepts donations at its Bowery location and notes that jeans, professional clothing and shoes for men are the items its population needs most. Accepts: lightly used menswear or new womenswear
There's a reason that a day at the spa or beauty salon has become synonymous with relaxation for many people. But for the terminally ill, the inability to leave home can render that pleasure impossible to enjoy. Beauty Bus provides in-home appointments for the chronically or terminally ill to receive haircuts, beauty treatments and other grooming services. Find out how to donate here. Accepts: unused beauty and hair care products
A service of Vietnam Veterans of America, ClothingDonations.org collects used clothing, resells it to privately owned for-profit thrift stores, and uses the proceeds to fund programming that benefits vets around the country. Find a location for drop-off or schedule a pick-up here. Accepts: lightly used clothing
Housing Works was started in 1990 by members of AIDS activist group ACT UP, and today, it still provides healthcare and housing assistance to those living with HIV/AIDS. Housing Works partners with the New York City government on a project called Re-Fashion NYC that tries to reduce the amount of clothing and textile waste thrown away by the city's residents. You can ways to donate to Housing Works here with the guarantee that even donations that can't be sold won't end up in landfills. Accepts: used clothing
Your local shelter
Regardless of where you live, there are probably good shelters near you that provide assistance to people dealing with homelessness, domestic violence and more. After Googling to find out where they are, call them to find out what kinds of donations they accept — many will accept clothing, lightly used beauty products and items like soap or shampoo.