Archives for textile recycling

Green Your Move Out helps college students give back, recycle

Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Ill. (Photo courtesy of Photobucket

Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Ill. (Photo courtesy of Photobucket)

USAgain’s Green Your Move Out fundraising program proved recycling on college campuses is a win-win for reducing waste and helping students take home a lighter load. Southern Illinois University in Edwardsville (SIUE) and Southern Illinois University in Carbondale (SIU) collected a total of 7,683 pounds of unwanted clothes and shoes this spring through USAgain’s bins conveniently placed around campus.

Both universities’ students can pat themselves on the back for helping to avoid textile wastes large enough to fill 1.5 garbage trucks.

Separately SIUE students, who partnered for a second year with USAgain, gathered 5,360 pounds worth of textiles, and SIU collected 2,323 pounds with USAgain’s recycling bins during the Green Your Move Out program this May.

SIUE’s Student Move Out program began on Sat., May 3, and USAgain bins were available on campus until Mon., April 28. SIUE’s textile recycling efforts prevented 37,520 pounds of CO2 emissions and helped save 7.5 million gallons of water.

After hearing about the success of textile recycling from its sister university, SIU made the decision to get involved, too.

“Being the first year, we weren’t sure how it would work,” said Justin Schuch, Coordinator of Residential Leadership and Engagement at SIU. “But it worked out well, and it gave people a chance to put things to better use. Everybody should look at what they’re wasting, and what other people can get out of it.”

SIUC’s Student Move Out program began on Thurs., May 1, with eight USAgain bins placed at four resident halls. SIU recycling efforts helped prevent 16,261 pounds of CO2 emissions and saved 3.2 million gallons of water.

“There was great implementation to get stuff off campus, and that was super important to us so we could move forward to summer,” Schuch continued. “Universities should provide more opportunities to not add to [textile] wastes. And working with a company that focuses on giving back is something people should definitely explore. They know how to handle it.”

USAgain’s CEO can attest to this.

“Fast fashion is a big deal on college campuses,” said Mattias Wallander, CEO of USAgain. “And with clothing and shoes going in and out of style so quickly, it’s a pretty big deal to have universities get involved in textile recycling. We appreciate how students came together to help give a ‘new’ life to clothing while helping curb waste.”

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimated that 12 million tons of textiles were sent to landfills in 2012. The goal of this program is to help students take action in waste reduction to create “green” campuses.  All textiles from the Green Your Move Out program will be reused or recycled depending on the quality of items.

If you liked this post, check out the related USAgain blog: “College students can meet the demand between frugality, fashion and recycling

Clothing recycling on the rise in the Chicago area

USAgain’s 2013 textile recycling totals show continued growth

WEST CHICAGO, Ill. – Chicago-area residents diverted 8.1 million pounds of clothing and shoes away from landfills in 2013, according to the West Chicago-based textile recycler USAgain, demonstrating that convenience plays a key role in the continued growth of people recycling their unwanted clothing and shoes.

By diverting 8.1 million pounds of textiles from landfills, USAgain and its patrons saved 56.8 million pounds of CO­2 from entering the atmosphere, over 11.3 billion gallons of water, and 46,368 cubic yards of landfill space. That’s enough to fill 1,855 garbage trucks.

With more than 14,000 recycling locations nationwide, USAgain provides local communities with a convenient option for discarding their unwanted clothing in an environmentally responsible manner.

“It’s great to see continued progress toward textile recycling and a growing recognition of the importance of keeping textiles out of landfills, which saves our planet’s precious resources, said Mattias Wallander, CEO of USAgain. “We’re looking forward to making even greater strides toward reducing waste in 2014.”

Although nearly all clothing and shoes can be re-used, Americans currently recycle just 15 percent of their clothing, with the rest – a total of more than 11 million tons – ending up in the garbage, according to data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

“A big picture goal of ours is to partner with more schools, municipalities and businesses to increase the textile recycling rate to 75 percent,” Wallander said. “Doing this would bring tremendous impacts in terms of resources conserved and carbon dioxide sequestered.”

Nationally, USAgain recycled a total of 55 million pounds of textiles. In addition, USAgain planted more than 200,000 trees around the globe in 2013, most in partnership with Trees for the Future, an agroforestry organization. The trees will serve to sequester carbon emissions and repair damaged ecosystems, helping to make the planet a greener, more inhabitable place.

For 2013 recycling information specific to USAgain’s national divisions, visit


About USAgain

USAgain – a leader in the textile recycling industry with corporate headquarters in West Chicago, IL. – is a for-profit company that recycles and resells reusable clothing and other textiles. Its mission is to provide consumers with a convenient and eco-friendly option to rid themselves of unwanted clothing and shoes, which is diverted from landfills. Recognized by the Better Business Bureau with an A+ rating, USAgain maintains more than 14,000 collection bins in 18 states.


Textile Recycling: What Happens to the Non-Reusable Stuff?

recycling blog imgWhen recycled clothing gets a second life that can mean a lot of things. Most clothing collected by USAgain and other textile recyclers is reused in its original form as secondhand clothing, but what about the stuff that’s too worn our to be re-worn?

Clothing resale outlets typically don’t sell clothing that’s deemed to be defective, but to recycling companies, such items are still perfectly OK. When you recycle the stained, old t-shirt you used to wear for gardening or working on the car, there’s a good chance it’ll be turned into a cleaning rag, mop or similar product. Ironically enough, clothing too dirty to be re-worn is ideally suited to be turned into cleaning materials.

Cloths and rags

Companies like Coastal Wipers sell a considerable selection of wiping cloths and shop towels made from various recycled clothing items. Buying recycled towels is a smart alternative to buying new ones, and industries (notably the oil industry, ironically) have been using recycled shop towels for quite a while. There’s really no need to use precious cotton, water and other resources to produce cloths that could be made from recycled items. In fact, about 17 gallons of water is used to produce a new shop towel—17 more than to create a recycled one.

Design items for the home

Many recycled textiles are made into wiping rags and other cleaning products, but contrary to what you might think, textiles are recycled into products for other uses.

Jinja, a Portuguese company that sells products made from recycled textiles, offers some of the most aesthetically appealing items made from recycled textiles.  A few of their recycled items include this Jackson Pollock-inspired placemat and wine bottle coolers prove that textiles can be recycled into more than cloths and rags—they can be made into interior design pieces with a bit of flair.


Have a ripped-up pair of jeans lying around? By recycling them, your jeans may very well be broken down and turned into insulation. Cotton Blue To Green, a non-profit insulation manufacturer, gives recycled denim a new life by turning it into UltraTouch insulation, manufactured by Bonded Logic. This denim insulation is safe to use and works exactly like normal insulation, and of course, no new resources are needed to create it, just old, unwearable jeans.

According to EPA data, all textiles are recyclable but only 15% actually are. These mistakenly trashed items often include the ripped, stained and damage items that are no longer suitable for regular ware. While it may be fair to say a ripped article of clothing is no longer fit for reuse, it’s patently false to say it’s useless—it’s a perfect fit to be recycled into something new.

We’d be remiss if we failed to mention the economic gains made possible by the recycling of textiles. Recycling clothing also creates ten times more jobs than waste removal and landfilling. Recycling textiles creates jobs, conserves resources and keeps harmful waste from entering landfills. Next time you find yourself with an unwearable t-shirt, we trust you’ll know what to do with it.

West Chicago recycling company gives new life to unwanted textiles

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WEST CHICAGO – After spending several years working with nonprofits in Central America and Africa, Mattias Wallander saw the need for clothes and other textiles there.

He also knew about the amount of clothing waste in the U.S. and the lack of initiative being taken to address it.

Together with his wife, he founded USAgain, a for-profit recycling company that collects unwanted textiles and distributes them for resale in marketplaces and thrift stores across the globe.

“We could see the need for finding a solution to keep the material out of landfills here, and, at the same time, the need to reuse that material in less-developed countries,” Wallander said.

USAgain started in Seattle in 1999, before expanding to Chicago and Atlanta in 2000. It now has locations throughout the U.S. The Chicago division’s branch is based in West Chicago. The company has more than 1,400 collection bins throughout the Chicago region.

USAgain accepts clothes, shoes, accessories and household textiles such as towels, sheets and curtains. Damaged items may be recycled, as long as they’re able to be repaired, which actually can create jobs in the countries where some items are shipped, Wallander said. If something is moldy or soiled with oil, however, it cannot be reused.

Once textiles are donated to USAgain, they are weighed, sorted and packed. They then are sold for cents on the pound to thrift stores or other sellers. About half of the textiles go overseas, and many items are sold by local entrepreneurs in marketplaces in Central America, Wallander said.

USAgain has collection bins in communities near West Chicago, including Wheaton.

The city of Wheaton adopted a series of regulations for collection bins in 2010 after holding several public hearings, said Tracy Jones, a staff planner with the city.

Besides the USAgain bins, there also are an assortment of other bins in the city for charities and for-profit companies, Jones said.

There is no permit process in place, but bin owners must comply with zoning ordinance regulations that define the appropriate size and location of bins. The regulations also state that the name and phone number of the bin owner must be posted.

Depending on how much typically is donated at a USAgain bin, textiles may be picked up daily, once a week or once every two weeks. Currently, about 200,000 pounds are collected each week from bins in the Chicago region, Wallander said.

Although the amount of textiles that are recycled has increased over the years, this is because people are consuming more than in the past, he said. Overall, the percentage of textiles that end up being recovered has stayed about the same.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, this was about 15 percent in 2010.

Wallander said there are benefits to recycling textiles, from job creation to environmental relief to support for poorer communities across the globe.

“We’re competing with the trash can,” Wallander said. “We’d like to see more people making the choice to reuse instead of trashing.”


The Greening of a Chicago Public School: Agassiz Elementary School students celebrate Earth Day

CHICAGO – Students at Agassiz Elementary School in Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood are getting ahead start on celebrating Earth Day this year by showing off the environmentally friendly initiatives theschool has undertaken in an effort to become “greener.”

A group of Agassiz students helping to manage the program – known as the “Green Team” – convened Thursday to demonstrate programs such as food sharing to reduce waste; neighborhood litter collection with sorting of recyclables and waste; and school‐wide composting. The school is also competing against

138 other Chicago‐area schools in a nationwide textile recycling contest for cash prizes based on pounds of clothes and shoes collected sponsored by textile recycler USAgain.

“The excitement of the Green Team’s programs is driving us to jumpstart other new green initiatives that impact our daily lives for the better,” said Agassiz principal Mira Weber. “Earth Day isn’t something that should be recognized just one day out of the year. Our kids are demonstrating that everyday can be Earth Day.

“I am impressed by the leadership skills these young people are developing and the positive example they are setting for the community,” said Chicago Alderman Tom Tunney (44th Ward). “I look forward to working with Agassiz to help make Lakeview a greener neighborhood for our next generation and for the good of our planet.”

Agassiz officials and students are also discussing new year‐round programs to lower the school’s carbon footprint. On Monday, April 22, they will host a Recycle‐A‐Thon from 8:00 am to 3:00 pm featuring clothing drop‐off by USAgain, shredding and recycling of sensitive documents by Midway Document Construction; and used technology collection.

“It’s wonderful to see our students so enthusiastic about giving back to their community,” said Ian Overway, a teacher at Agassiz who is coordinating the Green Team. “They’re inspired with the range of possibilities that recycling offers – from clothing and shoes to food or even used electronics – and we hope they continue to be leaders for their generation.”

USAgain, a Chicago‐based textile recycling company that helps divert millions of pounds and textiles from landfills each year, challenged area schools to collect clothing, shoes and textiles during the month of April as part of their Earth Month contest. The five schools that collect the most textiles per student will be awarded cash prizes of $1,000, $750, $500, $250, and $100, respectively. All participating schools will earn cash based on pounds of clothes and shoes collected.

The school plans to use any money earned from the USAgain contest to put toward an expanded recycling program at the school, added Weber. Agassiz students have already collected an estimated 1969 pounds of reusable textiles in 2013.

Visit Agassiz School on the web

The Shoe Waste Epidemic

man and pile

A staggering 300 million pairs of shoes are thrown away and sent to landfills each year, and despite this massive amount of waste, it can all be avoided. Every pair of old shoes, no matter how worn-out or beat-up, can be reused or recycled and avoid being landfilled.

Read more about shoe recycling on our blog.

Got old clothes? Company reuses textiles | ABC 7

April 6, 2012 (CHICAGO) (WLS) — According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Americans dumped about 11 million tons of clothing and other textiles into landfills in 2010. One company is working to keep more of that material out of the trash and used again.

Whether you donate your old clothes and shoes to a charity or drop them in a local collection bin, that small effort will help cut down on waste.

The for-profit company USAgain has more than 10,0000 bins across the country set out to collect clothing cast-offs. You have probably noticed bins dotting your neighborhood; 1,500 are in the Chicago area alone.

“Our operation is all wholesale,” said Carlo Cavallaro, USAgain. “We do minimal sorting. We separate clothes from shoes. They’re bailed and then they’re sold wholesale.”

The company, which is headquartered in West Chicago, reports most of the materials are re-used or re-purposed in the United States.

“Half the materials are sold domestically through thrift stores,” said Cavallaro. “Twenty-five percent is sold internationally for their retail operations and then the other 25 percent is generally recycled into wiping rags, insulation blankets and other recycling materials.”

USAgain estimates it redirected upwards of 56 million pounds of textiles from landfills across the nation last year.

“It’s 10 million pounds that we collected out of Illinois from right here out of this warehouse, and that’s about 2,300 garbage trucks,” said Cavallaor. “So those are taken directly out of a landfill.”

An estimated 95 percent of textiles can be re-used or recycled if they are diverted from the trash, but only about 15 percent is actually recovered.

For more information on where you can find a USAgain bin,

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