One of the questions we get asked the most is 'where should I donate my clothes?'.  Maybe you've been wondering about this too.  Most of us have things in our wardrobe we don't wear anymore, and we've heard there is a 'good' and a 'bad' way to get rid of them, but the rest... is a bit of a mystery. If you keep reading we will give some advice on donating clothes, and some recommended charities in Amsterdam, but first let's get to the root of the problem.

The 'bad' is the fact that a LOT of donated clothes - like the things we put in the charity bins on the street - end up being shipped over to the global South, like Kantamanto market in Accra, where they are sold to market traders for profit. This is creating is creating a cycle of debt and exploitation for people involved in this industry. And since 40% of the clothing entering places like Katamanto end up going to landfill, we are literally using these places as an overseas dumping ground.

During April, we have been supporting The OR Foundation fundraiser to help with solutions on the ground in Accra, Ghana. Follow @theorispresent on instagram to see the first hand footage and accounts of the impact of our used clothing. Let it hit home that something you/I/we have chucked in a charity bin is part of the problem there, because in order to solve this problem we all have to realise that we cannot simply throw something away. Things do not disappear, they go somewhere, and they create problems.  So we can't talk about donations without talking about the real problem - the fact we need to  d r a s t i c a l l y  cut down the amount we throw out.

Our relationship with our clothes, should not be something transient, but long term. A commitment to care for them and keep them as long as we can, making disposing of them a last resort. KEEP THE PIECE is our 3 step mini-guide to help keep your clothes for longer.

Prevent clothing waste. Keep the piece.

When you are looking to donate, the key is to keep it LOCAL.  Find a charity that uses the clothing to help people in need locally. In Amsterdam try:

  •  Koffiehuis is a drop in centre on Harlemersraat for people who are homeless, on a low income or without resident status. It is supported by a second-hand clothing store next door where you can donate.
  • Hebben & Howen - is a clothing back for the De Banne neighbourhood in Amsterdam Noord that allows people to come and shop by personal-appointment (you can also volunteer here)
  • RataPlan has 26 thrift stores in North Holland, South Holland and Flevoland, which offer work opportunities to people who are distanced from the labour market, and promote re-use and recycling. They even do collections from your home, call them on 088 828 27 82 to arrange.
  • De Regenboog Group support people living in (social) poverty - suffering from loneliness, addiction, poverty, homelessness and chronic mental disorders - giving shape and content to their existence through various support programmes. At the moment they're especially looking for good rucksacks and sleeping bags.

A few other important things to consider:

  • Always contact the charity before you take your stuff, and check they need it.
  • Tie pairs of things together, like shoes - so they don't loose their other 'alf.
  • And make sure everything is wearable and clean - it is destined for another person after all!
  • If you have something that's not wearable anymore, use the material for something else like cleaning cloths or padding instead of donating it.

When you start thinking of where things are going to end up, rather than simply chucking them in a bin to clear your wardrobe and your conscience, it's all pretty obvious stuff. But some of this was news to us, so hopefully it's helpful for you too.

Piece out x