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10 things I Learned On The Way To Collecting 10 Million lbs.

10 things I Learned On The Way To Collecting 10 Million lbs.

Incredibly, this Earth Week, 10 years into our companies’ existence,  we will surpass the milestone of 10 million lbs of clothing, shoes and textiles recycled.  This is an achievement that we are extremely proud of and while that number is a very large one, it is still only a small percentage of what is still destined for landfills. I would like to share some tidbits of wisdom I have learned along the way in hopes that others can have a smoother path in search of recycling solutions. Sometimes a Project Turns Into a Business   We started out 10 years ago with the idea of raising funds for a cause that was near and dear to us. That cause, spinal cord research, compelled us as one of our co-founders was left paralyzed when hit by a car. At the time, we knew very little about the amount of clothing that was cluttering up our wastestream.  As we learned more about the problem of textile waste, coming up with solutions was something we couldn’t walk away from. It’s Hard to Compete with Non-Profits I know, it sounds silly even saying a line like that. But what I mean is that it is hard to compete with the idea and perception of non-profits, especially in the realm of clothing collections. We are a small biz that dedicates a portion of our proceeds to charity. There hasn’t been one year where we have profited more than we have given to charity yet there are still people who act as if we are a big box corporation simply because we are for profit....
Why should I recycle shoes & textiles?

Many people would be surprised to find out that shoe, textile and clothing waste takes up around 5 % of our municipal waste stream. Of these items 95% can be re-use in one way or another, whether it is re-used as second hand clothing, rags or for low-grade fiber products. Recycling clothing is a way to preserve natural resources, and save municipalities the cost of dumping useful items.

Can I request a bin if one isn’t nearby?

Yes. We would love to partner with locations in your area. All you have to do is place our flyer on a box you find and voila! You have a Walkable Collections bin. We will place your bin on our locations map so that others in your area can benefit from your actions.

What types of textiles does Walkable & Wearable Collections accept?

Walkable & Wearable Collections accepts all used clean clothing, shoes and hats. We also accept household items such as curtains, linens, towels, handbags and belts. We do not accept carpeting. If you need to recycle carpet please go to: http://www.carpetrecovery.net

What happens to the shoes, clothing and textiles that are donated?

The shoes, clothing and textiles are brought to a  facility where it is sorted into different grades: re-usable as second hand clothing, wiping rags, and scrap that will be shredded for low grade fiber products.  The second hand clothing will be shipped to emerging markets throughout the world, and get to the final consumer cost effectively.

Is Walkable & Wearable Collections a nonprofit organization?

Walkable & Wearable Collections is a for-profit organization that serves as an agent for non-profit organizations. We handle all the logisitcs of the clothing collections and dedicate a portion of the proceeds to our charitable partners.

Is my donation tax deductible?

No, sorry we do not provide receipts for the NYC home pick ups since we are not a non-for-profit organization. However, our relationship with the GrowNYC  enables us to hand out tax deductible receipts at the 20 weekly greenmarket locations in which we collect textiles.

Are all the shoes and clothing recycled?

Our recycling rates are very consistent with the industry standard.

According to SMART (Secondary Materials and Recycled Textiles), industry standard is the following:

  • 45% is used as apparel which is exported to developing nations, where demand for secondhand clothing is particularly high
  • 30% of recovered textiles become wiping rags for commercial and industrial purposes
  • 20% is reprocessed into fibers for furniture stuffing, upholstery, insulation, sound proofing, carpet padding, building and other materials
  • 5% is unusable and not fit for recycling
Does the Walkable Collections program exist only in NYC?

NO! We have done collections as far away as Boston and Washington DC.

There is no limit to how far we can host a collection. The caveat is that in order to travel certain distances, the amount of shoes or clothing required for pick-up must reach a minimum. Contact us to find out what the minimum is for your area.

What are the costs of implementing a shoe recycling program in my building?

Absolutely none! Walkable Collections will provide you with a shoe recycling bin, and then implement our weekly service, all for FREE!

Will Wearable or Walkable Collections come to my home for a pick up?

While we love to make clothing recycling as convenient as possible for everyone, we need to adhere to strict minimums for home pick ups. Wearable & Walkable Collections only exists because of our ability to run an efficient company both economically and ecologically. For this reason the following are our minimum bag requirements: (1 bag = 30 gallon kitchen bag)

  • Manhattan — 5 bags
  • Brooklyn — 15 bags
  • Queens, Bronx and Staten Island — 40 bags

We don’t mean to discriminate. This simply reflects the frequency in which we operate in each area. If you yourself can’t come up with the yield, perhaps you can ask some neighbors.  They too, may appreciate our service.

Also, we throw events often in each borough so sign up for our newsletter or follow us on facebook and twitter to keep track of when we will be in your area.

Do you have any drop-off locations in NYC?

YES! We are now collecting used clothing and textiles at 26 weekly greenmarket locations in partnership with GrowNYC. Your donations helps to support GrowNYC’s environmental and greeening programs. Click here for the full schedule and location information. You can also sign up for GrowNYC’s newsletter here and get updates on our special one-day collections.


A Few Interesting Statistics

  • Is used as apparel which is exported to developing nations 45%
  • Recovered textiles become wiping rags for commercial and industrial purposes 30%
  • Is reprocessed into fibers for furniture stuffing, upholstery, insulation, sound proofing, carpet padding, building and other materials 20%
  • Is unusable and not fit for recycling 5%

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