In New York City, Clothing Recycling Program Could Spur Nationwide Movement

clothing recycling bin

Image via Ecouterre.

Come September, one of the largest textile recycling initiatives in the nation will launch in New York City, the Associated Press reports (via Ecouterre). In 2008, over 190,000 tons of textiles were dumped in the city's landfills. With the recycling program, fifty collection bins will be placed in strategic locations with the goal of making it as easy to donate clothing as it is to discard them. If the campaign proves successful, officials say that it could spur a nationwide clothing-recycling movement. More: Currently, nonprofits are bidding on a 10- to 15-year contract with the city to host the bins. Among the bidders is Goodwill Industries International.

From AP:

A Goodwill Industries survey of 600 adults in the United States and Canada found that more than half of people who donate clothing say they wouldn't go more than 10 minutes out of their way to make a donation.

In this case, convenience is key. All garments can be donated, regardless of their stinky smell or tattered state. Goodwill is mostly looking for clothing that can be resold. But regardless of who wins the bid, the clothing recycling bins sounds easy and accessible.

Robert Lange, the director of the Bureau of Waste Prevention, Reuse and Recycling in New York, told AP that "If this is as effective as it can be, it will influence other locations. We will be leading by example." We agree, and certainly hope that other cities and towns will implement similar programs.

wearable collections photo

Image via Ecouterre.

Currently, there is a similar recycling program in New York City run by Wearable Collections. The company is a for profit social enterprise that dedicates 20% of gross proceeds to charitable partners. Adam Baruchowitz, founder and CEO Wearable Collections, says, "The fact that we are a for-profit, actually excludes us from participating in the city program, as currently written, which only allows for non-profits to bid on the contract."

Wearable Collections makes it easy for people to donate used clothing by placing collection bins in their buildings. Clean clothing, including shoes and hats, as well as household linens, handbags, and belts, that are picked up are then sold to provide reduced-cost clothing for consumers in impoverished countries. Unusable clothing is recycled as wiping and polish cloths, or converted into fiber for products such as mattresses and couches. More on the New Jersey-based textile recycling company, in a video with Wearable Collections President Ethan Ruby, below.

Where do you bring unwanted or used clothing items? Tell us in the comment section, below.

Update July 14, 2010: A former version of this article stated that Wearable Collections is a nonprofit company, bidding on the city contract. They are for profit.

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More Clothing Recycling
Request a Clothing Recycling Bin from Wearable Collections
Wearable Collections NYC Clothing Recycling Project

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