Planet Aid: Saving the World One Shirt at a Time

Planet Aid: Saving the World One Shirt at a TimePlanet Aid refuses to accept having a single, ambitious goal as its limit. Rather, this organization takes a dual-pronged approach to save the world by addressing environmental issues and global poverty under one mission statement.

The nonprofit organization collects and recycles used clothing and shoes in the U.S. as a way to reduce environmental impact while supporting sustainable development in impoverished communities worldwide.

Planet Aid started out as a small idea in 1997 near Boston, Massachusetts. The original setup included a mere few drop-off boxes alongside a small, rented storage unit where community members could donate clothing and shoes. Soon, however, the group’s scope began to outgrow the tiny rented space, and the organization’s creators set their sights on bigger, global aspirations.

Though its influence expanded quickly, its clear-cut aim to expand global environmental sustainability and mobilize resources to alleviate poverty remained the same. Planet Aid now owns over 18,000 clothes collection boxes throughout the United States, all featuring the same signature yellow exterior.

How does Planet Aid accomplish these goals? Firstly, by collecting and recycling used goods, Planet Aid saves valuable resources that help reduce CO2 emissions and thus alleviate global warming. Recycling clothing also saves precious landfill space.

Furthermore, Planet Aid supports development projects that help to strengthen and organize communities by promoting small enterprise development and increasing access to quality training and education. In addition, Planet Aid’s support programs meet health and nutrition needs as well, extending from HIV/AIDS care and prevention to Farmers’ Clubs to teach sustainable agriculture and work towards a more stable food source.

Today, Planet Aid recycles millions of pounds of used clothing nationwide each year. Since 1997, the group has given more than $90 million in support of more than 60 projects in 15 projects throughout the developing world.

In its “afterlife”, recycled clothing can be and important tool for solving global poverty and meeting environmental needs. If there was ever a need for proof that fashion could save the world, Planet Aid provides the evidence.

– Alexandra Bruschi

Sources: Planet Aid, Aid For Africa
Photo: Flickr