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Wearable Collections Brings Clothing Recycling to NYC

Jace Shoemaker-Galloway | Thursday July 15th, 2010 | 1 Comment

Keeping up with the latest fashion trends can be a daunting and expensive task.  If your closets and dresser drawers are filled to the brim with apparel you no longer wear, you’re not alone.   According to the Environmental Protection Agency Office of Solid Waste, Americans toss out more than 68 pounds of clothing and textiles per person each year!

While yard sales can be one way to clean out those crowded closets and make a little money at the same time, organizing yard sales can be a time-consuming process.   And what happens to all that stuff you can’t sell once the yard sale is over?  Some people bag it all up and take it to the nearest Salvation Army or Goodwill.    But according to a survey conducted by Goodwill Industries International, over half those surveyed wouldn’t drive more than 10 minutes to donate clothing.  For many people, it’s simply easier to just toss it in the trash.

Instead of throwing out those worn shoes, out-of-style handbags and used clothing, why not recycle them?   In an effort to reduce landfill waste and encourage textile recycling, New York City will soon launch a clothing recycling program that is simple-to-use and convenient.  Beginning in September, 50 handy clothing collection receptacles will be installed in high-traffic areas to collect all those hand-me-downs and unloved threads.   The city is currently accepting bids for 10 to 15 year contracts with non-profits organizations to oversee the collection bins.  Two organizations, Goodwill and Wearable Collections, are reportedly in the running.

Wearable Collections is one organization that offers convenient clothing recycling to people living in the NYC, New Jersey and Long Island areas.  The company places free 28 x 48 x66 inch poly receptacles for clothing in buildings in the area.  Clean clothing, bags, linens and shoes that have been dropped off in the bins are then picked up on a weekly basis.   About half of the donated clothing will then be distributed to those in need around the world.  About 20 percent of the collected items will become wiping and polishing cloths.  And about 26 percent of the donated items will be broken down into fiber that will eventually be used in fiberboard, upholstery, couches, mattresses or new clothing.  Less than 5 percent of the textiles will go to the landfill.

The measure is being touted as one of the largest textile recycling efforts in the United States.  And if successful, the NYC initiative could launch a nationwide clothing recycling effort.


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  • http://vivbizclub.com/products/biodegradable-food-packaging/compostable-souffle-tasting-cups/ Jennifer

    So 26% of clothing will be recycled and the rest will either be donated or re-used as something else? That seems like a good division. I'm glad most of it is donated, and only 26% is recycled, since it takes more energy and resources recycle something that it does to re-use it or upcycle it. I hope this program makes its way to SF!