You might know of Salt & Light’s mission and its ability to re-sell and re-use “gently used” clothing in its stores in Champaign and Urbana.
But it appears not as many folks are aware that Salt & Light also accepts — eagerly accepts, actually — clothing that isn’t so gently used. Check out Salt & Light’s recent Facebook post that was shared more than 600 — 600! — times.
“We definitely want it, clothing and shoes in all conditions,” said Lisa Sheltra, Salt & Light’s associate director, before adding with a laugh, “My son had a pair of old shoes and they were so bad I wouldn’t even touch them to put them in the bag but I brought them in.”
Salt & Light takes clothes and shoes in all conditions and, after inspection, uses them in two ways: Some go to the store floor for resale; others are packed in giant bales and shipped away to be recycled or re-used.
“When clothing comes in the door, we are pretty selective about what goes into the store for resale,” Sheltra said. “That is a huge part of our philosophy piece. We make sure our message that comes across is everyone who comes in the door is a person of worth and value, worthy of respect. We do not want to say, ‘Well, this clothing isn’t in very good shape but it’s good enough for poor people.’ So we screen really hard for quality. There’s a lot that doesn’t pass muster for our store.”
The remaining quantity is large. So rather than throw the rest in the landfill, Salt & Light works with commodities brokers who purchase the materials and then typically use it in one of two ways: Re-selling it in overseas markets; or recycling it for uses such as industrial rags or fibers, Sheltra said.
Every seven to 10 days, Salt & Lights ships off 40 bales — each bale weighing around 1,000 pounds. Depending on market prices, Salt & Light receives roughly 14 cents a pound for clothing and 15 cents per pound for shoes. That money is then used to purchase groceries or other items for sale in the company’s two stores, which serve anyone in the community. (Salt & Light’s Urbana store, featuring groceries, opened in December.)
“We’re selling the higher-quality stuff (to brokers) so most our ours is probably going overseas to second-hand markets,” Sheltra said.
Not only are the clothes not sitting in a landfill, they’re boosting the nonprofit’s operations. The recycling and salvage portion of their budget helps to bolster Salt & Light’s business model. Last year its overall budget was based on revenues of 40 percent from donations and 60 percent from store sales. Those figures this year could reach 20 percent and 80 percent, respectively, which has a major impact for a nonprofit like Salt & Light.
Either of Salt & Light’s stores accept clothing donations. (If you don’t have a preference which drop-off you use, you might want to consider taking it to the Urbana store, as that’s where all of the stuff is processed, even the items that are initially dropped off in Champaign.)
And you’ll no doubt sleep well that night, knowing you’ve benefitted the environment and others in need — and perhaps ridding your home of clutter.
To learn more about how to donate to Salt & Light, click here.