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Unlocking value through clothes recycling

Climate Change is of greatest concern to the livelihoods of all people on Earth today. New initiatives targeting environment protection are crucial to avert the impact of climate change.

Humana People to People has been undertaking eco-friendly initiatives since early 1980ies in protecting the environment by recycling used clothes and promoting economic development. In North America and Europe, Humana People to People members collect and process used clothes. Thousands of clothes collection bins are located at strategic positions and assist to minimize the amounts of clothes being dumped into landfills. Annually a total of 121.000 tons of clothing are collected making a huge contribution to the reduction of carbon emission into the atmosphere.

There are multiple environmental benefits associated with recycling clothing. It reduces the amount of pesticides used in growing cotton or to make fabrics from petroleum sources and the water needed to dye fabrics, and cuts down on the pollutants, greenhouse gases and volatile organic compounds released into the water and air from manufacturing processes.

A study carried out by a Technical University in Denmark revealed that the reduction of impacts resulting from collecting 100 garments for reuse range from 14% decrease of global warming for the cotton T-shirt to 45% reduction of human toxicity for the polyester/cotton trousers.

Some of the collected clothes is sold in Europe, America and Africa as part of a value chain that spurs economic development through creating jobs and people establishing flourishing micro-enterprises that improve family income levels. In Africa, Humana People to People members are running used clothes retail business in Angola, Democratic of the Republic of Congo, Malawi, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique and Zambia.

The proceeds realized is a vital component of the funding channeled to the community development projects in the respective countries. Many people get involved in technical training, in farming, mobilization for prevention of HIV/AIDS, training of rural primary school teachers, and in other ways uplifting rural communities.