If you are throwing away clothes; stop. That’s the message from R.I. Resource Recovery (RIRR), who wants Rhode Islanders to rethink about how to dispose of clothes, shoes, towels, blankets, and such, regardless of their condition.
As long as the textiles are clean, dry and odorless, they are perfect for donation. You don’t even need to separate them from the so-called wearable clothes. Just put them in a plastic bag and drop them off at a clothing collection bin.
To help kick off textile recycling in style, R.I. Resource Recovery is organizing a massive donation event to spotlight the new changes for textile reuse and recycling on Thursday, Aug. 21 from 4 to 7 p.m. The collection will be at Warwick Mall in the parking lot at Pole 15, next to Firestone and across from Target. In attendance will be the eight companies that collect textiles: Big Brothers Big Sisters, Goodwill, Kiducation, Mint Green Planet, Planet Aid, Recycling Associates, Salvation Army and St. Vincent de Paul. Anyone who brings unwanted textiles and clothing to the donation event can be eligible to win a Warwick Mall gift certificate (in denominations of $1,000, $500 or $250) donated by the textile companies as well as the Council for Textile Recycling and the Secondary Materials & Recycled Textiles Association. Donations of old T-shirts, torn jeans, pilled beach blankets and grass-stained baby clothes are welcomed, just bag them and bring them to the event.
“We want R.I. to cotton to the fact that their unwanted textiles have real value and shouldn’t be wasted by mixing them with trash,” said Sarah Kite-Reeves, director of recycling services at RIRR. “Recycling textiles in clothing donation bins will reduce waste buried at the Central Landfill, reduce landfill disposal fees, and will give local organizations and businesses the resources they need to increase revenue. This one change will have a long-term material effect on solid waste and recycling practices in our state.”
Many people drop off their wearable clothes in collection bins across the state, thinking that they are helping people in need of clothing and footwear to get a bargain. And this is still correct. Most donors are unaware, however, that clothing and household linens that are damaged are very much in demand by textile recyclers. The textile recyclers sort out any items fit for repair and reconstruction, and those are sold to companies that distribute them to impoverished parts of the world where fashion is secondary to function.
So where are those bins? Everywhere. They are in nearly every city and town in Rhode Island. Look in supermarket parking lots, at elementary schools, near libraries, and at transfer stations and recycle centers. And those clothing collection bins on the side of the road? Perfectly fine to use.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, approximately 5 percent of all trash is comprised of textiles. If that figure holds true at the Central Landfill, where about 800,000 tons of waste are buried each year, that would mean 40,000 of those tons may be textiles.
After you drop off all those textiles on Aug. 21, stop in at Warwick Mall’s back-to-school fashion show at 6 p.m. More prizes and fun await, as well as a few good sales.
For further details about the companies that accept textiles, bin locations, and rules and facts, go to RItextiles.org or call 942-1430, ext. 109.