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. Read more
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.
Did you know that over 70% of the world’s population uses secondhand clothes. That does not include the US where the average American throws away over 70lbs of clothing a year. Believe it or not the Vintage Clothing or Re-used/Recycled clothing industry is responsible for saving over 1 million ton’s of textiles from ending up in our land-fills each year.
Without the help of clothing and textile recycling outfits around the world this would not be possible. One of these textile recycler comanies SAgain has published a list of eight “insane” facts about textile recycling. While I wouldn’t employ that particular adjective, and clothes “recycling” would be more accurately termed “reuse,” it’s still a cool compilation of info about a unique corner of the industry.
Brought to you by USAgain
- The average lifetime of a piece of clothing is only about 3 years.
- The consumer is the biggest culprit. In the U.S., 75% of pre-consumer textile waste is recycled by manufacturers, but only 15% of post-consumer textile waste is recycled.
- The average American throws away about 70 pounds of clothing, shoes and other household textiles each year.
- Americans generate almost 13 million tons of textile waste per year. Brits generate about 1.12 million tons of textile waste a year.
- Even though the UK appears to generate less textile waste, One in five Brits admit to throwing away a garment after a single wear. This means that more than $127 million of clothing winds up in landfills each year after being worn once. (One in five Brits also think that light sabers exist.)
- One in four American women own seven pairs of jeans, but only wear four of them regularly. (One in Four Americans also don’t know what nation the U.S. declared independence from.)
- The U.S. textile recycling industry creates around 17,000 jobs and removes 2.5 billion pounds of post consumer textile product from waste stream each year.
- Over 70% of the world’s population uses secondhand clothes.
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/
Comments Off on Vintage Jean Shorts
Vintage High Waisted Denim Jean Shorts have been rather common among some of the more hipster crowds over the past few seasons. As with everything in the fashion conundrum, these same shorts are starting to make big comeback among some of the more trendy shoppers.
Some of us feel that it is about time, the low-cut look for jeans on women has pretty much run it’s course, and rightfully so. This year everyone from department stores to pseudo cool hipster shops like Urban Outfitters will be carrying a collection of different versions of these high waisted denim shorts for their female clientele. Many of the brand designers for these shorts have gone to the racks of vintage clothing stores for inspiration on how to make the perfect pair. The perfect pair to them is a design that will look and feel exactly like an old pair of vintage jeans.
The thing to remember is that you do not have to run to your local department store to purchase a great pair of vintage jean shorts, all that you have to do is visit your closet or local vintage store. Find a pair of vintage jeans that looks good on you, then take them home and cut them to fit. It is that easy.