BUCKHANNON – New year, new you?
If you’re planning to transform some aspect of your life in 2018 by exercising more, binge-watching fewer Netflix shows or simplifying your life by getting rid of things you don’t need, your closet could be a good place to start.
And now, new bright yellow bins in the Walmart parking lot offer local residents another way to unload unused clothes and shoes.
The Elkridge, Md.-based nonprofit Planet Aid set up the bins just last week, making the Buckhannon Walmart the first Planet Aid drop-off area in this part of West Virginia, the entity’s communications director, John Nagiecki, said Friday.
Planet Aid’s mission is to protect the environment and help communities all around the world flourish, which is why its motto is, “For the Environment. For the People,” Nagiecki said.
“Our mission is two-fold,” he said. “Our tagline is ‘For the environment, for the people,’ because we aim to help reduce textile waste by making it convenient for people to drop off [clothes and shoes] in convenient locations like Walmart. We want to encourage a reduction in textile waste.”
So, how exactly does Planet Aid — a private voluntary organization registered with the U.S. Agency for International Development — help people and the environment simultaneously?
It sells donated clothes and shoes through a broker on the international market and, after covering its operational costs, uses the net proceeds to fund community and economic development work overseas.
“There is a huge demand for second-hand clothing overseas, as people in developing countries need it to clothe themselves,” Nagiecki said. “We then use the money to do development work in about 19 countries, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, in places like Mozambique, South Africa and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.”
The money mainly funds Planet Aid’s efforts to improve education by training primary school teachers, Nagiecki said.
“We also do agricultural work helping subsistence farmers increase their income and promote sustainable methods among them,” Nagiecki said. “We work to reduce the spread of HIV/Aids and in the area of community development by building (water) wells and other similar things to improve public health.”
Nagiecki said Planet Aid is able to remotely track the volume of textiles dropped off at its locations, which span 23 states in the U.S., and pick up the donated materials when bins are full.
“Some bins are really heavy and we come once a day, and at some that have less traffic, we collect less frequently than that,” he said. “We’re really happy to be able to serve the community, and we look forward to our partnership with Walmart.”
To learn more about the organization, which was founded in the Boston area in 1997, visit its website at www.planetaid.org.