The fast pace of everyday life means that many things get taken for granted. Many Americans would find it difficult to get by without internet access, smartphones, and a personal vehicle, yet there are millions of Americans around the nation with much less than these modern conveniences. Food, access to clean water, shelter, and clean clothing are just a few of the basic human needs that go unmet by too many of our fellow Americans.
The State of Our Nation
There are millions of Americans that, for one reason or another, find themselves in a position where they are unable to provide for themselves. Today the national unemployment rate rests at around 5%; unfortunately for our nation’s military veterans the unemployment rate is around 2% higher with 2012’s figures standing at around 9.9% of military veterans being unemployed. In March of 2013 the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that nearly 207,000 veterans were unable to find work. If this was not enough, over a quarter of all military families have credit card debt in excess of $10,000.
The Extent of Waste
With so many of our fellow Americans in need we have to ask why the United States is constantly ranked among some of the globe’s top polluters and wasters. The average American generates roughly 4.5 pounds of trash every day — this contributes to around 1.5 tons of solid waste per American per year. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that around 75% of that solid waste is recyclable and yet only around 30% actually gets recycled. Of that waste an estimated 12 million tons is in the form of clothing or textile waste. Research from 2011 suggests that as much as 90% of the clothing and textiles thrown out that year could have been recycled or used to help families in need.
Together We Can Help
Although a good percentage of recyclable clothing and textiles find their way to landfills, an equally healthy percentage took the form of charitable donations as 2011 saw around 2 million tons of clothing and textiles used for good causes. Through their combined efforts, charitable donation organizations are able to provide aid for families in need as around 80% of clothing donations are used to directly help the needy or provide funding for charities. Charitable donation organizations are responsible for employing around 17,000 jobs across the nation and helping to clothe, feed, and provide for countless families in need. Although many Americans choose to make donations during the winter holidays when the spirit of giving is in full swing, donations are needed for every season. Many people state that they are unsure of where to donate their clothing; it is suggested that all donors ensure that their donations are going to a non-profit organization that helps those in need. Many of these organizations have set donation pick up locations and a growing number even offer at-home donation pick up.