Red bins in community do not support local needy
Mexico Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Dana Keller is alerting area citizens that the large red USAgain metal bins that are showing up around town advertising for used clothing and shoe donations, may not be exactly what they seem.
USAgain (pronounced "use again") is a for-profit company that collects unwanted textiles and resells them in the U.S. and abroad, effectively diverting millions of pounds of clothing from landfills and generating new revenue streams for U.S. businesses and non-profits.
Founded in 1999, the company reportedly operates more than 10,000 collection bins in 17 states. In 2011 alone, USAgain collected 60 million pounds of clothing, shoes and other textiles. Headquartered in Chicago and operating 11 division offices, the company employs more than 220 people.
Since charity bins are great alternatives to garbage bins and are normally preconceived to represent local charities, Keller said she just wants to ensure the public is aware that USAgain is known to sell their contributions to international used clothing brokers, who likely have to pay for what they get.
"I just want to make sure our citizens are fully aware that this company is profiting off their generosity and contributions, and that it is not helping our community at all," Keller said.
According to USAgain's mission statement, the company is set up to provide consumers with a convenient and eco-friendly option to rid themselves of excess clothing, which USAgain diverts from wasting in landfills for resale here in the U.S. and abroad.
The company reportedly redistributes the discarded clothes to places where there is a "great need" for these items in struggling countries, and in turn generates revenue, creates green jobs here in the U.S. and abroad, and helps improve the well-being of people in America and around the world.
"Together, we can work to give clothes a second life and make the world a better and cleaner place for people to live," the mission statement reads.
The mission statement concludes: "We're leading the charge to encourage the re-wear, re-use and recycling of clothes and other textiles. By extending the life of clothes and shoes, it reduces environmental degradation from the manufacturing of new clothing and makes for a healthier planet."
What Keller said she wants area residents to know is that there are local facilities right here in Audrain County that do exactly what USAgain claims to do. "Except, they actually help Audrain's needy and the community," she said.
"The Handi-Shop, Seconds To Go and The Help Center not only help our community and our needy survive, they also help our town employ a very important sector of our community that otherwise maybe wouldn't be employable anywhere else," Keller said.
"While it is good to give to the less fortunate, it is just as important to know who we are supporting and to remember that charity starts at home."