Give a Thread

Last December, University of Pittsburgh’s PittServes—a university-wide organization that provides service opportunities to the school’s community—began a campaign to break the Guinness World Record for the most clothing collected for the intent of donation or recycle (yes, there’s a world record for that). The campaign will end in March, when the team will take over the William Pitt Union and commence a count that they predict will last three days.

Misti McKeehen, Director of PittServes, led the campaign in response to the University’s call to focus on sustainability for the current school year. “We wanted to provide an avenue for students, faculty, staff and alumni to support this focus on sustainability. Many university divisions may not readily identify how they can have an impact on sustainability. This initiative aims to demonstrate just one of the ways everyone can participate in the collective focus.”

PittServes also works with the university’s regional campuses which have all initiated clothing drives. The campaign is targeting 150,000 pieces of clothing collected and is currently a little less than halfway to the mark at 65,000. The world record is 146,000 and was set in Dubai last year.

Clothing collected will be donated to local nonprofits. All professional clothing will go to Dress for Success Pittsburgh, an organization that supports women re-entering the workforce. Items that are stained or torn will be turned into insulation by Goodwill Industries. The rest? McKeehen says the university will open a student-run thrift shop on campus.

On February 14 and 15, the Pittsburgh Public Market will host collection days for PittServes. Donors can bring bags of clothing and receive discounts to the market’s vendors.


The record attempt will be from March 2-4. The counting process will be videotaped and adhere to Guinness World Record standards with third party certification. Qualifying clothing includes pants, shirts, jackets, suits, dresses, shorts and skirts, but not shoes or accessories. For a full list of guidelines and other locations to donate, visit PittServes’ Give a Thread website.

Leah Lizarondo is a food advocate, writer and speaker. She is also the co-founder of 412 Food Rescue, an organization that seeks to eliminate food waste to make an impact on hunger and the environment. She is the Chief Veghacker, recipe creator and curator at The Brazen Kitchen, where she writes about food and food policy. She writes about the intersection of food, health, innovation and policy.