It’s hard to believe that over 85 percent of clothes wind up in the trash. While it’s the norm to recycle plastics, glass, metal and paper–clothes, shoes, and accessories have long been ignored. Studies show that about 10 percent of the nation’s landfills are full of discarded clothes and textiles.
Boston Public Works (BPW) announced recently it now has fourteen drop-off locations around the city for recycling clothing and textiles–this includes Jamaica Plain.
The location in Jamaica Plain at the city’s municipal lot located at 490 Centre St. accepts everything from pants, shorts, curtains, pajamas, t-shirts, jerseys, sweatshirts, sweaters, jeans, dresses, coats, suits, shoes, blankets, and backpacks.
“Locations were started in municipal lots since they are managed by the City and space is there,” said BPW’s Brian Coughlin. “We’re now working with neighborhood groups to help identify private land that we can use. Also we are working with BPL, BPS and BFD facilities personnel as we look to expand this service.”
Coughlin said in Boston, about 7 percent, or 14,000 tons of all city trash annually is clothes and other textiles.
The city has partnered with HELPSY to offer this new service to Jamaica Plain and Boston residents.
“Our goal is to support upcycling, responsible handling of overstock and returns and changing the way the fashion industry thinks of the clothing life cycle,” said the company in a statement. “Ninety-five percent of all clothing, shoes and other textiles can be given a second life–50 percent are reusable, 45 percent are recyclable. Local thrift stores play a necessary role in the resale economy, however they can only handle 10-20 percent of what they receive.”
HELPSY said all collected materials from the bins are sold to national and international retailers, wholesalers and recyclers. This works the same way as any other recycled materials collected from the public.
“Seventy percent of the world buys used clothing,” the company said. “Our buyers sell to countries who pay for the clothes. If banned, the primary economic alternative would be more fast fashion. Reselling used clothes is the best way to give clothes a second life, mitigating their environmental impact.”