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Where do our donated clothes go?

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Many of us have clothes we don’t wear anymore, and we often donate them in hopes that someone else will use them. But where do our donated clothes go? 


  • When people clean their house and go through all their unwanted things, it’s often called spring-cleaning or a spring-clean, because many people do this in Spring.
  • The donation bin is the large container where you can donate used clothes.
  • The bottom line is the blunt, simple summary of an explanation or story. 
  • garment is another word for a piece of clothing.
  • When material is squashed together and tied up into big blocks, these are called bales.
  • The Global South is a term used to refer to countries in Africa, South America, and Asia that, on average, are poorer that countries in the Global North. 
  • Landfill is a general term used to refer to trash sites. 
  • Unmentionables is a word to describe clothing that you usually hide away, like underwear.


Watch the video from 0:00 to 1:44

1. Presenter Ginger Zee brings two clothing racks onto the stage. What are these clothing racks supposed to show?

2. What happens to clothes that are donated? Put the events in the right order.

A: The clothing that’s left is smashed into thousand-pound bales. 

B: The bales are shipped to places around world. 

C: A person donates a bag of clothing at a donation site or donation bin.

D: 40% of the clothing isn’t sold and ends up in landfill. 

E: The bales are sold per pound or kilo to exporters. 

F: The donation centre tries to sell or give away the used clothing.

G: A person puts their used clothing in a bag.

Watch the video from 01:44 to 03:23.

3. What problem with donating clothes does Ginger Zee describe, and how does the company Trashie solve this?

4. Kristy Caylor, CEO of Trashie, explains that it’s impossible to prevent clothes from ending up in landfill eventually. How does Trashie try to make sure that clothes don’t end up in landfill too early?

A: Making it as easy as possible for consumers to donate clothes with their Trashie bag. 

B: Creating an efficient sorting system in their facility in El Paso.

C: Trying to find a use for old clothes by determining its quality, market, and price. 

D: Making sure that old clothes aren’t shipped overseas and are kept in the US.

Watch 03:23 to the end of the video.

5. The second-hand clothing market is being blamed for letting clothes end up in landfill. What does expert Maxine Bédat say about this? Summarise it in one or two sentences.

6. Ginger Zee ends the report with a few tips on how you could help solve this problem. Choose one of these tips and explain whether you would find this easy or hard to do.

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