We are all guilty of filling our drawers with bras that we no longer wear—bras that we find unsuitable, unfashionable, and uncomfortable. Intimate wear can be found in excess, spilling from crevices and reflecting the luxury of purchasing at free will.
Around 95% of textiles can be recycled but only 15% are actually reused. How many of us have considered the fact that our bras, worn or torn, can be utilized once again in the shape of a new product, or worn by someone else?
Homeless shelters usually receive donations that include socks, shirts, pants, and various other articles of clothing, but undergarments are a rarity. Transitioning families, victims of human trafficking, survivors of natural disasters, and other uncontrolled circumstances contribute to the need for a simple bra — a garment that is essential and prized by women and girls.
Elaine Birks-Mitchell, founder and CEO of The Bra Recyclers is breathing life back into old brassieres for both a social and environmental cause. An astonishing 64% of women wear the wrong sized bra, which results in lack of wear or use. Imagine the unused surplus of bras that could be donated, recycled, or reused to girls and women all over the world? Moreover, the textiles from a bra can be repurposed instead of unnecessarily thrown into landfills. If the bras are worn but still wearable, The Bra Recyclers will donate the garments to shelters, but if the bras are torn, they will be recycled into textiles.
In 2012, it was estimated that 14.3 million tons of textile waste was thrown into landfills, when the majority could have been salvaged. Water, energy, money, and resources are saved when textiles are recycled. Synthetic materials, heavy metals, and pesticides enter the ground when textiles are tossed into the ground, which contributes to harmful pollution, and typically takes 20 to 200 years to decompose. By recycling used bras, energy is conserved, and millions of women gain access to the luxury of a bra.
The Bra Recyclers works with 70 locations around the world and offers drop off locations and the ability to mail in lightly worn bras. Recently, the organization teamed up with Jockey in their “Buy a Bra, Give a Bra” Campaign, where 25,000 new bras will be given to women who need support.
On average, one bra costs $65 dollars, something that transitioning women and families cannot afford to make a priority when food and shelter are of the upmost importance. You may find yourself hoarding the nude bra that you only wore once, the black strapless bra that rests on your waist by the end of the day, or the Victoria’s Secret sequined disaster that you bought when you thought you wanted to get a little feisty. If this is the case — and it’s probably case for many of us—the #BRAVOLUTION, and a woman’s comfort, security, and self-esteem is waiting for your donation in this new year.
Cover image courtesy of Shutterstock.