Sustainable design in everyday products and transportation.
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.
The guys over at Shwood make a great pair of shades from a broken skateboard deck. What a great way to recycle and reuse materials! “These sunglasses aren’t for sale, we just wanted to try something new and show people what’s possible,” Shwood’s Taylor Murray wrote in an email to GOOD.
Shwood is a eye-wear company that makes wood sunglasses born out of a philosophy that we can all connect with nature a little bit more, and in more creative ways. Their goal is for us to appreciated the natural beauty of things around us and wear it.
Watch the entire video below, a little skate secsion in downtown LA, then a trip to the work-room to build a cool pair of shades out of a broken deck.
It is good for a buyers to communicate with their store merchandisers how the products should be grouped together. Just because each vintage piece is one off, does not mean that you can not merchandise mixes together. A well thought out marketing plan and creativity can help any store owner or buyer maximize their return on their products.
The following are different ways you can group ladies vintage mixes together
Dust Factory products used in image groupings
Paper is hands down one of the biggest success stories when it comes to recycling. We are slowly gaining ground with aluminum, plastic and textiles but we still have such a long way to come. Designer Merryn Haines-Gold has come up with a way to recycle paper other than throwing it into the blue bin, he made a chair. To make this great chair he used the recycled wooden frame from an old directors chair and old magazines along with loose bits of paper to remake it into a functioning chair.
Friction from the design holds the chair together, not glue. Each piece of paper is laid over each other, similar to like when you are shuffling a deck of cards wrapped with a a single strip of plastic. The seat bonded to the chair by tie wraps that are connected through small holes that are drilled into the paper.
The design is a available for sale, but the designer also presents it as a DIY project for you go getters out there.
That is the beauty of the idea, it is very simple and can be recreated anywhere with any magazine you wish, it also does not even have to be a magazine, it can be loose bits of paper, as long as they are roughly the same shape and the surfaces are able to engage with each other, the friction will do the rest…..just don’t leave it outside.
This looks like a fun weekend project for just about anyone out there. Next time you see a beat up directors chair at a garage sale or flea market keep this idea in mind. With a collection of some old magazines you can have a cool green project to work on. At the very best you will have a great new art piece that people can sit in, at the very least you will learn a little bit about how friction works.
Source courtesy of Treehugger.com and http://www.mezhg.com/
Image Courtesy of http://www.mezhg.com/
This weekend was the annual gathering of ancient grains, coconut water, fair trade chocolates, protein bars, and organic pet food in Orange County, that is at least where where baobab and sea buckthorn joined acai, goji berry and chia seeds, the reigning antioxidant-rich superfoods. There was overwhelming sea of 3,000 exhibitors, displayed across the exhibit floor of enticing organic foods, healthy items and green goods at the annual Natural Products Expo West convention and conference, March 10-13, seemed like all the world eats well and lives sustainably. But then reality struck.
There are mMore than 56,000 gathered for this 31st fest, with an increased visibility on non-GMO foods and eco-packaging. With aisle after aisle of vendors from Nature’s Path to Earth Balance, from omega-rich supplements to “pure” and “smart” items, it’s clear the message was healthy and environmental. Compared to two years ago, it was hard to find a plastic bottled water booth, through other drinks overflowed from teas to brain tonics, digestive beverages to chillout elixirs.
To us, one of the big hits of this event was Seventh Generation’s new cardboard bottle for its Natural 4X Laundry Detergent. We love great designs, but green packaging is just one small part of a sustainable design and product. Designed with Ecologic Brands, it features a recyclable and compostable outer shell of recycled newspapers and cardboard and a recyclable monopolymer film pouch inside with no nylon or laminates. It reduces the plastic by 66 percent and when empty, it’s stackable. so nine times more efficient to ship.