Deutsche Kleiderstiftung
Deutsche Kleiderstiftung


Materials and viewpoints on the circular economy, exports and sustainability

The German Clothing Foundation is not only an aid organization, it is also a competent contact for all important issues relating to the handling, trade and recycling of textiles. We participate in (political) processes, committee work and support research. Here you will find information material dealing with various aspects, e.g. scientific or economic.


Sustainable action starts at home.

Every year in Germany, around one million tons of old clothes are put into used clothing containers or collections. And even if sustainable consumption suggests buying less and wearing clothes for longer, there are understandable reasons to part with clothing and shoes. The key questions then are where and in what condition do I hand in the clothes I no longer need.

Cutting up and disposing of intact clothing to prevent supposed profiteering is certainly the worst option. After all, passing on used clothing is not only a benefit for people on low incomes, it is also good for the eco-balance due to the longer use of resources. Similarly, you shouldn't just throw everything into any container without knowing who runs it. The location search of FairWertung e.V., the umbrella organization of non-profit organizations that collect used clothing, provides information on reputable collectors. Anything that you would wear yourself is in good hands with such organizations. Anything that is heavily soiled or damaged, on the other hand, should be disposed of with household waste. In many towns and municipalities, waste disposal companies have also set up containers into which fabric remnants and broken clothing can be thrown. It is worth taking a look at the label.

An increasingly popular way to pass on good clothing is to donate clothes in a parcel with free shipping to the German Clothing Foundation. With DHL or GLS, there is always a drop-off point nearby. And packing clothes from the wardrobe into the box gives you a good feeling and the certainty that everything will benefit social projects.

A sorting "for warmth and dignity"

We receive clothing donations in various ways, whether in parcels, containers or through collection campaigns. All incoming clothing donations are inspected and sent on to their next destination. Every single item of clothing has to be picked up and examined carefully. This strenuous work requires a high level of concentration at all times. Items are sorted according to season, gender, size and quality. And we don't just collect and distribute clothing. Shoes, household linen such as towels or bed linen, and accessories such as belts, handbags, scarves and shawls, hats and gloves are also important components of our charitable work.

We are pleased that people are aware of our concerns. After all, we are not a recycling company or a waste disposal company. We need good, wearable clothing and shoes for our humanitarian aid. Most of the donated items meet this criterion. This enables us to provide help in line with our slogan "For warmth and dignity". After all, our aim is not only to provide those in need with clothing to protect them from the cold etc., but also to allow them to participate in social life, i.e. not to offer them worn, worn-out or unfashionable clothing that stigmatizes and excludes them. Time and again, we receive letters of thanks and feedback saying that the recipients of the donations are delighted with the quality of the clothes. We are happy to pass on these thanks to all our supporters who donate good clothes and shoes, household linen and accessories, some of which are as good as new.

Last but not least, our hard-working sorters are also very happy to have such conscientious donors. They are delighted when they receive washed, clean textiles and shoes while doing their direct physical work. After all, we keep hearing and reading in the media about worn clothing, garbage and dirt, which also affects other donations and impairs the manual work. So it's nice when we open one parcel after the other and each time a pleasant scent is released and shiny clothes are revealed that people are happy to pass on. Thank you very much!

Packaging and loading from a sustainable perspective

The transportation of relief supplies to those in need is of course an important part of humanitarian aid. Here too, sustainability is a key factor. This is particularly evident in terms of efficiency and cost-effectiveness.

Within Germany, we have established the diaconal cycle. We bring urgently needed clothing to clothing stores and social institutions. Thanks to our precise sorting, we can deliver exactly what is needed in the respective location. In return, we take donations that are not needed. Many clothing stores and social department stores receive donations directly, but they either cannot store them or simply cannot use them. Our cooperation partners appreciate the opportunity to pass on the donations entrusted to them in a charitable way and our transporter avoids empty runs.

An efficient approach is also required for international aid transports. The sorted clothing is therefore neatly folded and then pressed into bales. With a weight of around 50 kg, up to 150 items of clothing form a cube with an edge length of around 55 cm. These can be loaded wonderfully and guarantee better utilization of the loading area than banana boxes could. And as the bales are further pressed separately according to the sorted groups (men's, women's, children's clothing, summer, winter, household linen, etc.), it is also ensured that the aid shipments are not loaded too one-sidedly. Shoes, for example, are of course not pressed, but packed in bags or cardboard boxes.

Incidentally, sustainable aid also includes the decision not to work worldwide. In our view, it does not make sense to send clothing donations to the Pacific region, for example, due to the costs, the ecological impact of long-distance transportation and the suitability of the donations. In the event of serious accidents, natural disasters or similar situations, donations of money and supplies from the region are more appropriate.

Emergency and development aid: sustainable project design

We support people in Germany and internationally with the clothing donations entrusted to us. Our help goes far beyond deliveries in acute emergency situations. The development of structures and the establishment of charitable institutions are important components. Several of the Agenda 2030 Sustainable Development Goals are being pursued.

For all projects, we have local cooperation partners who receive and distribute the donations. In Germany, for example, these are diaconal clothing stores, city or train station missions; internationally, they can be church communities or NGOs. This has many advantages. On the one hand, there are no costs associated with the travel and accommodation of helpers. In addition, the organizations know the respective (legal, cultural, etc.) conditions for distribution. However, it is important and guaranteed by controlling that we work with reputable and reliable partners.

In several projects (currently in Kaliningrad and Albania), we use our expertise and resources to help organizations set up their own aid structures. In addition to combating poverty, we also promote decent and productive employment. In partnership-based development cooperation, clothing collection points and charity stores are set up to accept donations locally and to finance further aid services. In this way, people are put to work and at the same time opportunities for textile aid are expanded. According to the basic principle of "helping people to help themselves", people are enabled to build a better quality life for themselves.

Our charity stores - financing project work and a sustainable consumption concept

The first charity store was opened in England in the last century. And while there are only a few stores of this type in this country, a large industry has developed there. Charity stores help charitable organizations, the environment and the community in a variety of ways.

The proceeds from the various charity stores fund medical research, development aid, hospices, homeless shelters and environmental initiatives, among other things. In the case of the German Clothing Foundation, the proceeds from Zweimalschön, zweimalgut and rack 'n white go towards financing the collection, sorting and preparation of relief supplies for the projects. Consumers also benefit from every purchase. The Kleiderstiftung stores are a reliable source of affordable but high-quality products.

The benefits for the environment are obvious. The sale of used goods prevents them from ending up in landfill sites. Considering that the production of clothing consumes thousands of liters of water, disposing of items that can still be worn cannot be a solution. The same applies to the conservation of resources for shoes, which are also offered by Zweimalschön, zweimalgut and rack 'n white.

And those who volunteer with us experience further benefits: they can make new friends and acquire new skills, gain work experience and enhance their CV or manage their "retirement". The volunteers, like the stores themselves, act as brand ambassadors and spread the word about our organization's goal: to help people with appropriate clothing.