What is WOVIN?
WOVIN is a for profit company with a two-part social mission: keep textiles out of landfill and create profitable alternatives to the secondhand clothing trade by finding innovative ways to recycle textiles.
The two-sided problem we address:
- 25 billion pounds of textiles (clothes, shoes, etc.) are thrown into U.S. landfills every year (~6-8% of U.S. waste stream) according to the EPA. It will be close to 30 billion pounds by 2019. Nearly 100% is recyclable.
- Two million shipping containers full of used clothes are sold to developing countries each year (often illegally), draining between $3 to $4 trillion from their economies and killing textile manufacturing industries (this practice is known as the "secondhand clothing trade"). The net result is increased dependency on foreign aid.
We achieve our mission through a three-part strategy:
Provide the easiest, most convenient, donation experience possible to keep clothes out of landfill. WOVIN operates an on-demand donation pickup service. Donors schedule a pickup online and we pickup their donations the next day for free.
Help small local nonprofits raise money through clothing donations. Small nonprofits don't have the time, money and knowledge needed to run successful clothing drives, so WOVIN runs these programs for them.
- Create innovative ways to recycle clothes that generate profit. Without profitable alternatives to the secondhand clothing trade there is not incentive to stop exporting clothes.
What is the secondhand clothing trade?
Almost all donated clothes in the U.S. end up being sold to private companies. These companies (known as "clothing recyclers") purchase the clothes in bulk and send them to developing countries where they're sold to local vendors for a large markup.
The result of this harmful practice is increased dependency on foreign aid in countries like Kenya and Uganda. Local industry can't compete, so factories close down, taking priceless jobs with them. It's a huge problem.
Why is WOVIN a for profit company?
WOVIN is a for profit company with a social mission. Making substantial profits is not the primary goal of our company, but we realize that profit is necessary to create alternative revenue streams for companies that export secondhand clothes.
The Global Afterlife Of Your Donated Clothes NPR, May 2013
Is your old t-shirt hurting African economies? CNN, April 2013
Enter West Africa Part 2: White Man's Deads by Abi Ishola, YouTube, March 2012
The Truth About Where Your Donated Clothes End Up ABC News, Dec 2006