Whatever the motivation is behind your urge to clean out your closet, clearly now is the time of year to do it. The upcoming holidays are a reminder for us to ramp up our generosity and remember those who are less fortunate. On the pragmatic side, we need to sort out those tax-deductible donations for the 2016 tax season, therefore making the holidays a convenient time to get rid of stuff we simply don’t need. Of course, that means lugging boxes and driving to the nearest charity, which is an unpleasant task in much of the country at this time between bad weather and congested streets. But Levi’s and Goodwill are making it easier this year to donate unwanted clothing and shoes—even if you did not order anything on the Levi’s or Dockers online shopping sites.
This week Levi Strauss announced a partnership with Give Back Box in an effort to raise up to $50,000 for Goodwill. For every box received, Levi’s will donate $5 to the charity, and the iconic apparel maker has promised to donate at least $25,000 during this campaign.
Using the service is easy and costs nothing. Customers just need to pack a box with clothes or shoes and print a free shipping label on either the Levi’s or Dockers web site. Any brand of clean and dry clothing and shoes will be accepted. Participants can also receive a donation receipt if they plan on writing off the donation for their taxes. Donations will then be channeled to the nearest Goodwill location for processing.
Of course this program helps create jobs for Goodwill and provides clothing and shoes for those who cannot afford it. But there are environmental benefits as well, as in keeping these items out of landfill—and the same goes for all those cardboard boxes, hundreds of millions of which will be shipped across the country over the next several weeks. Other retailers, such as H&M and the United Kingdom’s Marks & Spencer, have launched recycling programs in their stores. But this program with Levi Strauss takes advantage of the busiest time of year for the retail industry and makes donating unneeded clothing much more convenient. According to the Wall Street Journal, last year UPS and FedEx together shipped an estimated 875 million packages between Thanksgiving and Christmas, so imagine the amount of waste that would be diverted from landfill if only one percent of all of those packages were sent back to a retailer full of used clothing, textiles and shoes.
This news from Levi’s is a big step forward for Give Back Box, which has partnerships with additional retailers including Overstock.com and Ann Taylor. Founded in 2012 by Monika Wiela, who runs her own online shopping site, the idea behind Give Back Box was inspired by a homeless man she encountered in Chicago who was holding up a sign saying he needed a pair of shoes. Wiela spent that night thinking about what she could do with all those empty boxes in her warehouse, and a new social enterprise was born. If more retailers follow her lead and that of Levi Strauss, a new way of waste diversion, long a huge challenge for the textile and clothing industries, could help clear closets, create jobs and offer more companies and their customers an opportunity to recycle.
Image credit: Levi Strauss
Leon Kaye has written for TriplePundit since 2010, and became its Executive Editor in 2018. He is also the Director of Social Media and Engagement for 3BL Media. His previous work can be found at The Guardian, Sustainable Brands and CleanTechnica. Kaye is based in Fresno, CA, from where he happily explores California’s stellar Central Coast and the national parks in the Sierra Nevadas. He's lived in South Korea, the United Arab Emirates and Uruguay, and has traveled to over 70 countries. He's an alum of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and the University of Southern California.