BY: Jackie Northam | NPR
On a bright and warm Saturday morning, there’s a steady flow of people dropping off donations at Martha’s Table, a charity in downtown Washington, D.C. A mountain of plastic and paper bags stuffed with used dresses, scarves, skirts and footwear expands in one corner of the room. Volunteers sort and put clothes on hangers. They’ll go on sale next door, the proceeds of which will help the needy in the area.
It’s a scene played out across the U.S.: people donating their old clothes, whether through collection bins or through large charities, to help others.
Melissa Vanouse donates clothes a couple times a year.
“I think it all pretty much stays local, that’s kind of the idea,” she says.
But it doesn’t. Martha’s Table, like other charities, only has so much room and can only keep clothes for so long. At some point, charities call in a textile recycling company.
About 80 percent of the donations are carted away by textile recyclers, says Jackie King, the executive director of Secondary Materials and Recycled Textiles, a trade association for textile recyclers. She says that means about 3.8 billion pounds of clothing that is donated each year is recycled.
“Thirty percent of the materials are made into wiping cloths that are used in commercial and industrial use,” she says.
About 20 percent of the donated clothes and textiles are converted into fibers that are then made into a variety of other products, including carpet padding, insulation for autos as well as homes, and pillow stuffing.
King says nearly half the donated clothes – about 45 percent – is exported.
A forklift shuttles large pallets stacked with bins of donated clothes at Mac Recycling on the outskirts of Baltimore. A large section of the warehouse is packed with colorful 800-pound bales of clothing ready to ship out.
Robert Goode, the owner of Mac Recycling, says textile recycling is a huge international industry. He says his small warehouse alone ships about 80 tons of clothes each week to buyers throughout the world, including Central America, South America, Asia, Africa and Europe.
“Pretty much you can pick any country and there’s a market for these items,” he says.
Goode says when the shipment arrives overseas, a wholesaler will break down the bales and send the clothes into different markets. At each step along the way in this process, someone makes money from the donated clothes.
“It is an extremely competitive business … items are bought and sold by the pound and you can literally make or lose a deal over half a cent a pound, quarter of a cent a pound,” Goode says.
He says the business has changed dramatically over the years. Customers in foreign markets are now setting up their own operations in the U.S., cutting out a middleman. King, SMART’s executive director, says textile recyclers are still finding strong demand for used clothing. But she says selling cheap garments, like those made in , is becoming increasingly difficult.
“I think one of the problems when they’re trying to sell the clothing abroad is the distinction between what’s good quality used clothing versus clothing that has maybe not been manufactured to the highest standards,” she says.
King says ultimately she hopes that more clothes — of good quality — are donated every year. Her organization, SMART, says 85 percent of all the clothing sold each year ends up in landfill. [...]
Vintage Clothing is no longer just fashion desired by the fashionistas or hipsters, but is now a trend that people from all walks of life are getting into. There are many benefits to collecting and recycling vintage clothing, less waist, recycling textiles etc… however there are some con’s to collecting old clothing as well.
A recent article in the Daily Mail sheds some light to one of the negative aspects of collecting vintage clothing that come in the form of a little bug and it’s larvae that is a fabric destroyer, at least when it gets into your closet.
Somethings that every vintage clothing warehouse, collector, shop owner or thrift shop buyer should be aware of:
- Natural fibers found in clothes from 60s and 70s are favorite for moth larvae
- They cause severe damage to clothing, carpets, leather, fur and fabrics
- Charity shops and warehouses are perfect breeding ground for moths
Rise in sales of vintage clothing boosts population of clothes moths by 75%
FROM: dailymail.co.uk By: Richard Hartley-parkinson
A growth in the popularity of vintage clothing has led to a resurgence in the number of moth infestations.
In just five years, the number of callouts to experts has gone up by 75 per cent as fashion-conscious Britons spend £40million on outfits from the sixties and seventies.
But clothes from the 1960s and 1970s are often made of natural fibers such as cotton and linen, which contain keratin – a favourite food for moth larvae.
There has also been a surge in demand for charity shop clothes over that period, as the recession has forced people to cut back on spending.
Nine in ten Brits (89 per cent) now shop on tighter budgets and risk bringing larvae into their home as they buy contaminated second-hand clothing.
Common clothes moths and their larvae thrive in warm, enclosed environments such as wardrobes.
And they are attracted to the smell of sweat, which can become ingrained on older clothes even if undetectable to a human nose.
Clothes moths have a life cycle of between 65 and 90 days, with the female adult moths living for about 30 days and laying up to 300 eggs
Clothes moths have a life cycle of between 65 and 90 days, with the female adult moths living for about 30 days and laying up to 300 eggs
They were once the scourge of Victorian homes and gave rise to the word mothballed, meaning to put something into storage or to suspend operation.
Colm Moore, from Rentokil Pest Control, said: ‘Moths are considered a difficult household pest because of the severe damage their larvae cause to clothes, fabrics, leather, fur, and carpets.
‘We recommend regularly checking for moth eggs and removing them before they hatch.’
Clothes moths have a life cycle of between 65 and 90 days, with the female adult moths living for about 30 days and laying up to 300 eggs.
Clothes bought from charity shops or vintage warehouses are at increased risk of moths because they come into contact with old clothes from so many places.
This means there is a greater chance of them encountering an existing moth infestation, and for that infestation to then be transferred.
Older clothes are more likely to be made from the natural fibers which moths feed on – such as wool, cotton, and cashmere.
Newer garments are increasingly made from synthetic materials, such as polyester.
Article & Images Courtesy of Daily Mail UK
What do you do if Moths have gotten to your clothes?
If you have a collection of vintage clothes affected, or moths have found their way into your closet there are a few things that you can do to remedy the problem. Let’s face it, depending on how bad the outbreak has gotten will determine what drastic measures should be taken. There are however a few home remedies that are worth trying out!
Fill sachets with dried lavender, or dip cotton balls in lavender oil. Then, place in closets, drawers and any other places where clothes are stored.
Dried mint leaves are another effective moth repellent. Place several leaves in a sachet, or place loose leaves among your clothes.
Cedar wood has long been recognized as a moth repellent, and for good reason – it works. If you’re lucky enough to have a cedar-lined closet or chest, be sure to make use of it. Otherwise, pick up some cedar chips or blocks from the store, and place them where needed.
Note: Cedar loses its scent (the repellent aspect) over time. To bring the scent back, sand the cedar lightly, or purchase and bottle of cedar oil, and apply it to the wood.
Cloves, Thyme, Ginseng and Rosemary
Fill a sachet with one or a combination of these four herbs to keep moths at bay for months.
Clothing Storage Tips
Clean Clothes Before Storing
Wash all clothing, and dry it in the sun before packing it away at the end of the season. This will help to kill any larvae that may be present in the clothing. Cotton garments can also be ironed as a further deterrent.
Store Clothing in Sealed Containers
Store clothing in sealed containers
chests, plastic storage containers, suitcases, etc.—where moths can’t get to them. may be present in the clothing. Cotton garments can also be ironed as a further deterrent.
Store Clothing in Sealed Containers
Store clothing in sealed containers—chests, plastic storage containers, suitcases, etc.—where moths can’t get to them.
Did you ever wonder what happens to your clothing after you put it into a donation bin? Sometimes it ends up in a thrift store, sometimes it ends up in a vintage shop and sometimes it ends up being processed to be reused as a wiping rag.
Wendy Koch, an investigative reporter at USA Today recently took a look into the recycled clothing industry, where the clothes end up when you donate them and where they end up if you don’t. With the average American throwing out over 70lbs of used textiles a year, each one of us is responsible for what we do with our old duds.
Clothes recycling is expanding with curbside pickups and in-store collection bins, but what happens to donated items? USA TODAY’s Wendy Koch finds out.
Clothes recycling is going curbside in more U.S. towns as global prices rise for the used apparel, shoes and linens that Americans often toss in the trash.
Since September, more than a dozen local governments — in Arizona, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Washington state — have begun curbside pickup of textiles, often in special bags next to bins containing paper and cans. New York City has put clothing collection bins in nearly 250 apartment buildings in the last two years.
Businesses, too, are placing collection bins in parking lots and gas stations. In the last year, The North Face, H&M and other retailers have begun using in-store bins to offer customers store vouchers for donating clothes — whatever the brand, and sometimes, whatever the condition.
The nation’s robust recycling industry is increasingly targeting clothes — even those that are stained, ripped, mismatched or out-of-fashion. Companies and non-profit groups are partnering with cities eager to reduce landfill costs. They pick up the clothes, sell or reprocess them into wiping rags and other goods, and give the cities or local charities a cut of the pie — often pennies per pound.
“”It’s a trend more cities are considering.” says Tom Watson, a recycling official in Washington state’s King County, where the Seattle suburb of Issaquah has teamed up with waste collector CleanScapes for curbside pickups. As a result, he says non-profits such as Goodwill Industries International and Salvation Army face more competition for donations.
Queen Creek, Ariz., launched a curbside pilot project in September that collected 27,000 pounds of material in four months and earned nearly $3,000 for both the city and its Boys and Girls Club. It partnered with United Fibers, a company that turns textiles into insulation
“This is stuff I wouldn’t want to give away,” says Ramona Simpson, the town’s environmental programs supervisor, referring to items that are no longer wearable and wouldn’t sell at Goodwill or other charity stores. She says the town, after developing a stronger bag for collecting clothes, will soon relaunch the program.
Salvation Army began partnering this year with Massachusetts’ Brockton and Worcester to pick up clothes curbside. Community Recycling, a for-profit that sells clothes for reuse, started pickups in October in Pennsylvania’s Newtown and a dozen neighboring communities and will do the same next month in Westville, N.J.
“Anything that is clean and dry can be reused or recycled,” says Jackie King, executive director of Secondary Materials and Recycled Textiles Association, an industry group. She says nearly half of donated clothes are sold for reuse, mostly overseas where demand and prices have risen.
Goodwill’s Michael Meyer says per-pound international prices vary but have risen from a low of about three cents to 20 cents. He says his non-profit, which requests “new and gently used” items to fund job training programs, sells the “vast majority” at its stores, outlets or auctions. What’s left, he says, is sold to companies that recycle the material into other products or sell them for reuse overseas.
King says the average American throws away 70 pounds of clothing, linens and other textiles each year. Textiles account for 5% of municipal waste, because only about 15% of them are recycled — compared with 72% of newspapers and 50% of soda cans, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
“There’s a lot of room for improvement,” says Jennifer Berry of Earth911.com, a website that lists, by ZIP code, places where myriad items can be recycled.
“Clothes clog our landfills. They don’t decompose”, says Kelly Jamieson of Planet Aid, a non-profit with bright yellow collection bins in many metro areas. “We’re very privileged people. We throw away things many other people never would.”
Her group placed bins on college campuses nationwide last week as part of the “OneShirt Challenge” for Earth Day, aimed at educating students on the need to recycle even the rattiest T-shirts.
“My friends just let things pile up in their rooms, which is a pretty big waste,” says Jan Nguyen, a University of Maryland student who’s donating old athletic shoes. She says she rarely throws anything away and uses socks that have lost their mate as chalkboard erasers.
With super-cheap manufacturing. clothes are falling apart and being thrown away at a faster rate, says Heather Rogers, author of Green Gone Wrong: How Our Economy is Undermining the Environmental Revolution. “There’s been a transformation of clothing into a disposable item.”
Watson, the Washington recycling official, says consumers should consider buying fewer but higher-quality items that will last longer, noting the average American buys at least twice as many pieces of clothing as 20 years ago. He suggests they avoid impulsive purchases, take good care of their clothes and, when possible, buy used items at thrift stores.
When it comes to collecting vintage clothing from the United States the Japanese buyers have been paving the path for nearly 30 years. Since the eighties Japanese vintage collectors have been traveling across the United States hitting up thrift stores, vintage stores, clothing flea markets and just about anywhere they could find old vintage jeans, leather jackets, sneakers or t-shirts.
As the vintage clothing culture became more popular in Japan and the demand grew collectors began to find new ways to locate more product. Because each vintage piece is essentially a one-off it is difficult to determine the actual size and fit without trying it on. One problem the collectors had was finding vintage pieces that were not only the correct size but the way the garment fit had to be perfect as well. To overcome this obstacle they hired hip Japanese boys and girls that were the perfect body shape to match the sizes that they were looking for.
If you were young Japanese boy or girl size 30L 30W, 29L 30W or 32L 30W, you just might land a gig all expense paid buy trip to the US. You could get a budget up to 10 thousand dollars to spend on product and expenses.
Scores of young hip Japanese kids traveled across the United States in rental vans finding jeans, sneakers, t-shirts and jackets that were in there size and fit. They would show up to flea markets before they opened, often renting a stall for the sole purpose of shopping what the other vendors had before the public arrived.
If you were selling vintage clothing in the 90′s you were mainly into the business to source vintage Levis for some of these young Japanese buyers. The vintage culture in Japan was in full motion and the young Japanese fashionistas were obsessed with vintage American culture. Everything from American rockabilly, vintage surf, motocross, punk, 70′s skateboarding, 80′s sneakers was being snatched up whenever they could get there hands on it.
Meanwhile in the United States there was hardly a demand for vintage clothing except among theater students and fashion designers. It wasn’t until the young Japanese buyers came to the US looking for their select pieces that the vintage market in the US began to take root. The vintage clothing store became an outlet for these buyers to source more clothing in a select space. Instead of going through a never ending amount of racks at a thrift store looking for one or two good pieces, the buyers could now hit up a vintage clothing store and spend a couple of thousand dollars on a few hundred pieces in one stop.
Some shop owners got rid of the brick and mortar all together and just focused on setting up a warehouse or storage unit to show buyers their collection when they came to town. Flea Markets or swap meets dedicated to antique goods, esp. clothing started to become meeting places for American collectors and Japanese Buyers. Japanese buyers would scour their collections with flashlights on their heads before the collector had time to take it out of their trailer or trunk.
Soon old American clothing, used clothing, the stuff Rag houses labeled trecera or trash, was beginning to create a demand and industry of its very own.
Select old Levis were selling for over 1 thousand a pair retail in vintage shops in Tokyo, the average pairs of Levis were selling for up to 2 hundred a piece. It was a good market to be in and everyone seemed to be happy from the vintage collector in the US, the young Japanese buyer, to the collector and shop owner in Japan. The main force guiding the new market and helping it evolve was the Japanese shop owners who were funding it.
It seemed to be a lucrative market for everyone that was involved until one day the bottom fell out. One morning in late April a ship pulled into a port in Japan carrying a container with items that had never hit the Japanese seaboard in this much quantity before. The container was full of vintage Levis size 28-32 all folded and ready to hit the retail market.
Instantly the Japanese market was flooded and overnight the wholesale price of Levis dropped from $35 a pair to $6 a pair, often less than the collector had invested into them. Some collectors had hundreds of thousands of dollars invested into Levis that they were saving for their Japanese buyers. Each collector took a hit and needed to find a way to replenish their losses. The demand didn’t end, but it changed, and as the dust began to settle from the fall out a new customer began to take notice of cool old things, and they would soon be a force to be reckoned with.
The time was the mid nineties, DJ’s were getting big, raves were in full swing and American fashion and culture had taken a turn towards more urban, loose fitting garments. If you didn’t go with the flow you were labeled alternative or independent (indy), and soon a huge alternative market began to take form.
Young kids and college student across the Untied States began listening to their alternative music, watching their alternative films and wearing their alternative clothes that just happen to be what the Japanese kids were into five years earlier. Bands like Nirvana and Tripping Daisey, made vintage clothing cool and alternative while films like Pulp Fiction and American Graffiti made it hardcore and independent. American collectors started putting their collections in vintage clothing stores where the new alternative American kids could find outfits to match their attitude.
One of the Japanese collectors that was there as the industry grew and changed is Rin Takan.
For the past 15 years Rin has put out a number of books in his My Freedamn series photographing collections and select pieces that helped turn the industry into what it is today.
Rin uses the knowledge he has gained from his years of collecting to put out an informative, artistic and creative coffee table books packed with images and story’s of why each style was unique and cool in it’s own way.
The My Freedamn series of books are not only great to look at but they are also a educational tool for anyone interested in vintage clothing and the vintage culture.
Rin Takan’s latest release Schott NYC 100 Years of An American Original features an amazing collection of leather jackets and outerwear put out by clothing manufacture Schott NYC.
To find out more about Rin Takan and My Freedamn check out http://myfreedamn.com