GAIA Boxes Seek to Save Planet, Environmental Group Ships Donated Clothing Overseas For Sale

Taft Independent, California/February 19, 2012

If you love your Mother Earth, think that humanity is driving Global Warming, that fundamental changes in politics and economics are needed to save the earth, and want your used clothing to end up in a third world country, then you'll want to join the movement and put all your old sneakers and t-shirts into one of the GAIA bins that have recently popped up around Taft.

And the organization has some people in Taft wondering why so many 6 foot tall environmental green clothing donation boxes have turned up on the west side when donations are needed in town.

If you pay any attention to local facebook postings, there's some grumbling about this out of town organization looking for donations when most think that donations ought to be kept in the community.

Most of the donated clothing items are shipped overseas and sold.

Meet GAIA, a worldwide save-humanity by saving the earth environmental organization that has been described as a "cult" by some former employees, and raised many questions about where and how much of the funds it raises actually goes to saving the environment.

According to their website, the Gaia-Movement is a 501c3 non-profit organization raising awareness about the plight of the environment and taking action to protect it. The website goes on to explain why social and political change is needed:

"Why has it been so difficult to achieve meaningful solutions? Media pundits, partisan think tanks, and special interest groups funded by fossil fuel and related industries raise doubts about the truth of global warming. These deniers downplay and distort the evidence of climate change, demand policies that allow industries to continue polluting, and attempt to undercut existing pollution standards." "Our country is at a crossroads: the United States can act responsibly and seize the opportunity to lead by developing new, innovative solutions, as well as immediately putting to use the many practical solutions we have at our disposal today; or we can choose to do nothing and deal with severe consequences later."

So much for local oil company donations.

According to the city of Taft, GAIA does not have a business license to operate in the city. Many business owners were simply asked by a GAIA representative if they could place a box on their property. No city approvals were sought or given.

In 2004 the Chigago Tribune published an investigation on the hundreds of green donation boxes that had started appearing all over the Chicago area. They found that they were connected to a Danish group called Tvind, and financial records showed that Gaia, the main Tvind-related organization in Chicago, was spending a very small percentage of its revenue on environmental projects.

Tvind's leader, Amdi Petersen, was arrested in Los Angeles at the time and was extradited to Denmark to stand trial on embezzlement and tax evasion charges.

Since then, numerous other journalists have published investigations into Tvind-related clothing boxes, which are labeled Gaia, USAgain, Planet Aid, IICD and Humana.

British journalist Michael Durham operates a website,, that tracks the organization!|s many interconnected businesses, properties and charitable operations around the world. And philanthropy watchdogs have given failing ratings to most of Tvind's clothing operations.

The American Institute of Philanthropy says it gives an F grade to both Gaia and fellow Tvind-related group Planet Aid (which has boxes in about 80 cities in 20 states mostly outside the Midwest) for lack of transparency, insufficient spending on program services (11 to 44 percent) and too much spending on fundraising ($76 to $85 per $100 raised).

So before you give, you may want to think twice about donating to GAIA and support their worldwide cause.

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