It’s not uncommon for people to donate their clothes to charities, but a French social enterprise called Le Relais has found a new way to turn these donations into a means of employment for the disenfranchised people in France and Africa.
Founded in 1984 by Pierre Duponchel, Le Relais initially operated as a door-to-door service that collected unwanted textiles with the purpose of recycling them. Now, sorting over 60,000 tonnes of textiles annually, the enterprise has created over one thousand jobs for people in France and Africa.
After collecting unwanted textiles and garments including shoes, clothes, scarves and other items, workers of Le Relais sort the items based on quality and condition. Higher quality fabrics are usually sold to boutiques and others to markets and second-hand stores. To ensure that there is minimal waste, the items that are of lower quality are also recycled into industrial wiping rags.
Le Relais website