Used clothing store
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I’d long considered it the unspoken Golden Rule of used-clothing donations: don’t pass on to a charity any item that you wouldn’t be perfectly happy to accept as a hand-me-down for your own kid. Jelly-stained shirts, jeans with blown-out knees? To the trash bin they go.
But Captain Don Sanderson of the Salvation Army sets me straight: “As long as it’s not wet or smelly, we want it,” he says.
Sanderson is not directly involved with the Salvation Army’s stores (which Advocate readers selected the best thrift stores in the Valley, although the organization prefers to term “family stores). He runs its Springfield Adult Rehabilitation Center, a residential program for adult men with problems including homelessness, drug and alcohol dependency and mental health issues. The center, though, relies heavily on the money generated by local Salvation Army stores—the great bulk of which, Sanderson proudly notes, goes directly into services. (The Salvation Army gets an “A” rating from the non-profit Charity Watch in recognition of its effective and efficient use of donations.)
While used clothes and household items have always been the bread-and-butter at Salvation Army stores, these days, Sanderson says, the organization is also increasingly finding revenue through the recycled-textile market. Items that don’t make the cut for sale in the stores are sold on to recyclers, who clean and repair them for resale overseas or turn them into everything from rags to insulation.
The practice isn’t just financially smart; it’s also environmentally sound. “We’re trying very hard to keep textiles out of landfill,” Sanderson says. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, textiles—clothing, shoes, linens—make up 5.3 percent of municipal solid waste in the U.S., and only 15 percent is recovered for recycling. The Salvation Army works with state and local governments to up that number—last year, it helped at a textile recycling day in Northampton—and also accepts old textiles at stores. If you’re dropping off things for recycling rather than resale, Sanderson asks, please mark the bag as “textiles,” to make things easier for the folks in the sorting center. And don’t forget, the Salvation Army will happily pick up donations of any size at your home (call 1-800-SA-TRUCK).
1277 Liberty St.
135 Memorial Ave.
West Springfield, MA
3rd: Goodwill Industries International
473 Sumner Ave.
and various locations