Yes, I know it’s five days post Easter and you feel like you have recycled the ham at least six ways, but I’m talking about textile recycling. Every spring I do the big switch over of clothes. By now I have purchased several new tee shirts for special occasions – lunch with friends, etc. This means I have down graded last year’s new tee shirts to the running errands’ level. The next level is for hanging out at home or the neighborhood, which moves into the cleaning house or gardening spot. Now what?
After reading an article in the Friday, February 28, 2014, edition of the Lake County News Sun, by Ed Collins, I was surprised to learn that the average person discards close to 70 pounds of clothing and other textiles a year. Currently, only 15% is being recycled. You do the math. Where is the other 85% going? Landfills.
In Gurnee, Illinois, an intergovernmental agreement has been initiated between the town and SWALCO, Solid Waste Agency of Lake County, for a collection box to be placed at Fire Station No. 2. I keep a box in my coat closet for all cast offs. In northern Illinois, we received announcements when Purple Hearts, AmVets, the Cancer Federation and several other organizations are coming to pick up items. Because I’m a quilter, I called them about taking left over batting and scrap fabric I could no longer use. I discovered these organizations sell my used tee shirts and quilting supplies by the pound to companies who make recycled fiber.
Here’s the best news, not only are we saving our landfills, but we are contributing to the job market. These are the drivers picking up the articles from our homes, the people who sort the items and package the textiles, the driver who delivers them to the company for recycling, the people who make the fiber and the products, and so on.
Even a local quilt shop in southern Wisconsin, is helping. Buttons and Bolts, www.buttons-and-bolts.com, uses donated scrap fabric and batting to make dog beds for animal shelters. Whether you are a quilter or the regular guy/gal whose grass cutting tee shirt has bitten the dust, recycling can offer it a new life! If you need help for recycling textiles, call your local waste management company for ideas or any of the organizations I mentioned.
Who knows, that tote bag you receive at the next writer’s conference might come from my quilting supplies.