The Salvation Army – recycling to raise funds…

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The Salvation Army – recycling to raise funds

The Salvation Army started recycling clothes over 130 years ago as part of the organisations philosophy of helping people in a practical way – today that philosophy is embodied in the work of the Salvation Army Trading Co. Ltd.

In 1991, the charity established the company as a commercial organisation; partly as a way of raising funds and also as a means of providing employment in a country hard hit by recession. What started out as a small operation in Southampton has rapidly expanded into a nationwide scheme: now over 1,700 Salvation Army Trading Co. clothing banks collect over 12,000 tonnes of clothes every year in the UK.

Garth Ward has been one of the main driving forces behind this success: his many years of experience in marketing have helped with the publicity material, which gets the textiles recycling message across to the general public. Instead of selling the textiles collected in their clothing banks to a number of merchants, the SA decided to sell to just one: Kettering Textiles Ltd. One of the main reasons behind this is that the Salvation Army Trading Co. retains more control over the final destination of the clothes, and in the event of national emergency or international crisis, such as the war in Bosnia can provide a large amount of clothes at very short notice. On a smaller scale people in need of clothing in this country can also be helped. The majority of clothing is however sold to raise funds for the Salvation Army. Many local authorities use Salvation Army clothing banks; indeed, four district councils approached them at the recent Recycling ‘96 exhibition. Garth insists that the industry looks healthy: “I see textile recycling continuing to grow for the foreseeable future.”

House Clearance Glasgow notes that clothing banks are not the only collection method that the Salvation Trading Co. employs: kerb side schemes are becoming increasingly popular and they are quick to follow the trend. Although the costs are higher than bank collections, the are often successful at increasing the amount of textiles collected. They will also arrange for clothes to be collected from charity shops, jumble sales and cooperate with other charities. The recent introduction of a help-line system for the public has also proved popular and useful. Garth Ward puts his organisation’s success down to communication: with the public, with local authorities and with Kettering Textiles. Good marketing has more than paid for itself.