As the days begin to warm, it reminds some of us to do a bit of spring-cleaning, and if you are like most New Yorkers, with a lack of closet space, your wardrobe may be your first concern.
You may rid your wardrobe of your unwanted items, which clutter up your closet and life in a number of ways. Perhaps you are a fan of the KonMari Method from Marie Kondo’s book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. Kondo, the de-clutter guru suggests that you get rid of anything that no longer “Sparks Joy” in your life.
You may not be able to pare down to a “ten-item wardrobe” as suggested by Jennifer L. Scott in her TEDx talk, but most likely you will have many items that you have grown out of or grown tired of.
With the trends in fashion and de-cluttering happening at the same time it is no wonder why New Yorkers throw out about 1.4 billion tons of reusable or recyclable textiles each year, according to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). That is a lot of material going into landfill, which if recycled is valued at $ 210 million Dollars. That's a lot of waste and potential income for recyclers.
This amount of textile waste is in part due to the nature of recycling. Municipalities set up recycling of glass and metal in the 1970’s, and later added plastic recycling to their curbside collection. With the volume of fast fashion and textile waste being generated, it is time to think closely about textile recycling. For now there are some options for textile recycling that citizens can seek out on their own. As an experiment I started to look for recycling options within the neighborhood of Park Slope in Brooklyn.
Take-backs, charities, thrift shops, resale
Some brands will take back their clothing such as, Levi’s, Eileen Fisher and H & M. This is a limited and diverse set of brands, so the likelihood that your closet has this combination of labels is slim. Your next option might be to drop off in the charity bins around your neighbor. Unless you already know where they are it’s nearly impossible to find one on line. You may find them on a particular charity’s website, but there is no Yelp for used clothing bins, at least not yet. No bins were located in Park Slope, none that showed up by an Internet search.
There are several Greenmarkets around Brooklyn; two in the Park Slope area. On Saturday’s, you will find one at the Grand Army Plaza Farmers Market and Sunday’s at the Old Stone House. These locations differ in the variety of textiles they accept.
At Grand Army Plaza, Wearable Collections, as the name states, only accepts items that are able to be re-worn. Home textiles such as blankets, pillows and sheets are not accepted. On Sunday’s, at the Old Stone House, Green Tree Textiles will accept all clothing, wearable or not, and all home textiles.
Resale is another option, if your clothes are in style and in good shape. There are many second hand shops in town, such as Beacons Closet or Buffalo Exchange.
Noteworthy charities include Housing Works, Salvation Army, or the many charity bins yet to be mapped around the city.
Green Tree Textiles at the Park Slope Green Market- April 2017
If New York City is to meet it’s goal of zero-waste to landfill by 2030, the options for recycling need to be made more available and convenient. An early trial of local mapping which indicates the places for drop off, at markets, resale shops and charities, along with the hours of operations and collection types is in the works. Adding information of freestanding collection bins will developed in the next phase. You can see the early map on my Twitter feed.
Map Key: Green – Open Market collections
White – Pick up service – clothing Drives
Blue – resale shops both non profit and for profit