Valley woman on a mission to collect bras to support women around the world

Posted at 7:11 AM, Mar 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-17 10:11:39-04

GILBERT, AZ — The average American woman owns six bras and only uses two of them on a daily basis. So, what to do with other four?

“Recycle them, most women don’t know that you can recycle your unused bras” said Elaine Birks-Mitchell, co-founder of ’The Bra Recyclers’.

The East Valley social enterprise officer says the need is so great they’ve collected millions of bras since the company first started 10 years ago.

“It’s a huge need for women around the world, actually. Not just here in the U.S. but women on the streets, particularly those who are trying to get back into the workforce, you know, you need those basics,” added Birks-Mitchell.

Elaine, along with her husband Johnny, have been receiving unused and semi-new bras from women across the country.

The bras that are shipped to them are sorted and assigned for distribution, whether that be a local non-profit or resale.

“For us we will sell our excess to either clothing recyclers or clothing exporters and then they get them around the world to Mexico, Central-America, Africa, Asia, and the Middle East,” she added.

She says the real driving force is to rid the environment of more trash, all while helping those who need it most. Part of her charity work includes getting bras to women, for example, in Sierra Leon.

"Thank you, thank you, thank you,” said a woman in a video Birks-Mitchell shared with us.

“It’s such a need in many countries. You can’t just go down to Dillards, Nordstrom or a Target to get a bra; it has to be brought to you,” said Birks-Mitchell.

“Most Bras are made from a synthetic fabric and it takes hundreds of years, sometimes, for that to break. So, if we can delay that process of bras going into the landfill, we wanna try to reuse our bras.”

Since her company first started in 2008, The Bra Recyclers have donated over four million bras to non profits.

Here in the Valley, Central Arizona Shelter Service or CASS has received hundreds of thousands of bras.

“I'm a firm believer that you can be for-profit company and give back just as much or more than a non-profit to the community and the planet”

If you’d like to recycle your bras visit The Bra Recyclers website.