Today is Earth Day and companies around the world are thinking about how best to save the environment. Most of us would never consider our clothing being part of the problem, but it is.

Savers, a global thrift retailer, is challenging people to rethink their clothing footprint. A larger-than-life clothing spill installation (pictured above) on the famous Alki Beach in Seattle, Washington created a visually arresting wakeup call to remind everyone that clothing doesn’t need to end up in landfills. Americans throw away more than 10.5 million tons of clothing annually, 95 percent of which could have been reused or recycled.

For more than 60 years, Savers has been purchasing used clothing and textiles from nonprofit organizations and giving them a second, or third, life in its stores or through its recycling partners. They’re on a mission to create a better world through reuse – by inspiring local communities to rethink reuse.

“At Savers, reuse is in our DNA,” says Ken Alterman, president and CEO. “It’s who we are and how we operate, but not everyone considers reuse an option for their used clothing and household goods.

With the growing amount of clothing and textile waste ending up in landfills, we felt compelled to act. 

We want to help people better understand the environmental impact of their clothing waste and the steps they can take to reduce it. That’s why we are calling on everyone to rethink reuse – shopping thrift, donating used items to a nonprofit and consuming goods in a more sustainable way.”

Through its unique business model of purchasing, reselling and recycling secondhand merchandise, the Savers family of thrift stores (including Value Village, Unique Thrift and Village des Valeurs brands) benefits more than 120 nonprofit organizations, gives local consumers a smart way to shop and saves 650 million pounds of quality used goods from landfills each year.

Savers pays its nonprofit partners for donated goods, turning otherwise unused items into sustainable funding that supports their vital community programs and services.

Eighty-five percent of clothing waste ends up in landfills, with only 15 percent being reused or recycled. Companies such as Savers help give clothing and textiles another life through recycling and reuse – diverting millions of tons of clothing and textiles from landfills each year. Think about that next time you’re clearing out your closets.