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Calumet City Thunderbolts earn Recycling Award


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CHICAGO | The Calumet City Thunderbolts won top honors from local clothing recycler USAgain for Best Recycling Program Promotion after turning a one-day clothing drive into a year-long opportunity to further the cause of textile recycling.

During the 2015 Green-T Award ceremony held recently at the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, USAgain recognized the youth football and cheer organization for its exemplary efforts in reducing textile waste. The Thunderbolts hosted clothing drives that led to the collection of 2,600 pounds of clothing and shoes.

“Football has a huge impact on our culture and there’s a reason that sports figures become role models. It’s been exciting to see the Calumet City Thunderbolt’s passion for good sportsmanship extends beyond the field and into the community,” said USAgain CEO Mattias Wallander. “From the players to the cheerleaders to the parents who greatly championed the issues surrounding textile recycling, we are proud to present the Thunderbolts with a big win for their team and the environment.”

The Green-T Awards reward individuals and organizations that support recycling and sustainability in Illinois. In partnerships with cities, local businesses and nonprofit organizations – including schools, churches, fire stations, humane societies and youth groups – USAgain hosts 1,100 recycling bins in the Chicago area that diverted seven million pounds of textiles from going into landfills in 2014 alone.

“We’re not just a team on game day, and this is a big take away our kids get from our partnership with USAgain,” said Lena Smith, the coordinator of the Thunderbolts Booster Club and the fundraiser. “Throughout the season, we’re learning about healthy habits, good examples and winning skills. Textile recycling gives us the opportunity to apply these lessons off the field and understand the impact we have on our communities.”

USAgain has corporate headquarters in suburban West Chicago. Its mission is to provide consumers with a convenient and eco-friendly option to recycle excess clothing. The USEPA estimates that the average person throws away 70 pounds of clothing per year, totaling an estimated 12 million tons in landfills.

City of Joliet Earns Recycling Award


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The City of Joliet won top honors from local textile recycler USAgain for municipal leadership with an award for “Outstanding Ordinance to Support Recycling.”

During the 2015 Green-T Award ceremony held at the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, USAgain recognized the City for its work in making the City’s textile recycling infrastructure more effective. Earlier in the year, the City passed an ordinance that improves recycling efforts by regulating collection boxes through a much-needed permitting process.

“USAgain is proud to present Joliet with “Outstanding Ordinance to Support Recycling” and we applaud the City for adopting this ordinance and creating a process that holds recycling to the highest of standards,” said Mattias Wallander, CEO of USAgain.

Joliet Mayor Bob O’Dekirk said, “Recycling is a foundational component to quality of life and we know that a strong system can contribute to a healthier, more united community.”

The Green-T Awards reward individuals or organizations that support recycling and sustainability in Illinois.  USAgain believes that recognizing the efforts of green leadership encourages environmental stewardship at all levels.

See more moments from the 2015 Green-T Awards!


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

 CONTACT: Rasham Grewal

(708) 908-0476




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 Collection Events in Chicagoland

We’ll be collecting clothing, shoes and other textiles at one-day events throughout the Chicagoland area this year. Check out the list below for information on an event near you!

January 18 – Montgomery event – 9AM – Noon – in front of the police station

February 15 – Montgomery event – 9AM – Noon – in front of the police station

March 15 –  Montgomery event – 9AM – Noon – in front of the police station

April 19 – Montgomery event – 9AM – Noon – in front of the police station

April 19 – Schaumburg Recycling Event- 10AM – 3PM – School District 54 Office, 524 E. Schaumburg Rd.

April 26 – Carol Stream Recycling Extravaganza/Earth Day Festival – 10AM – 2PM –  Carol Stream Town Center

April 26 – Glendale Heights – 8AM – Noon – location TBA

April 26 – Elk Grove Village – 10AM – 2PM – Rainbow Falls Park – 200 Rev. Morrison Blvd

May 3 – Park Ridge Park District – 11 AM – 3 PM – Wildwood Nature Center, 2701 W. Sibley Ave

May 17 –  Montgomery event – 9AM – Noon – in front of the police station

May 17 – Woodridge event – 8AM – Noon – location TBA

May 31 – Wayne Township – 9AM – 1PM 27w031 North Ave

USAgain Partners with Eco-Erek to divert more shoes from landfills

USAgain partnered with Erek Hansen, better known as Eco-Erek, to divert about 3,000 pounds of shoes from landfills.



Eco-Erek is no stranger to recycling and sustainability – he’s been organizing recycling drives for jeans, shoes and other items since a National Geographic article inspired him to start recycling in 2009. Erek has partnered with USAgain for shoe recycling once a year since 2011, and the 3,000 pairs collected this year weighed out to 4,988 pounds.


“Eco-Erek is a perfect example of how our youth can make a difference in the world,” said Mattias Wallander, CEO of USAgain. “His recycling endeavors have engaged thousands of people and countless communities to do the right thing and recycle. We look forward to a great future of recycling in partnership with Erek and his family.”


Erek, who is 13 and hails from Curtice, Ohio, maintains a website that tracks his ongoing recycling efforts and showcases his media coverage. Check him out at, and as Erek says, “help me help our planet!”

Divine Mercy Polish Mission Church awarded for Excellence in Green Fundraising

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WEST CHICAGO, IL (November 13, 2013) – USAgain, the textile recycling company based in West Chicago, IL, has announced the winners of its inaugural Green-T Awards. Among them is Divine Mercy Polish Mission Church, recipient of the award for Excellence in Green Fundraising.

The Green-T awards seek to recognize and positively reinforce individuals and organizations that support recycling and sustainability in Illinois.

The church recycled a total of 9,779 pounds of clothing and textiles in 2012, a truly impressive amount worthy of recognition. In addition to diverting a significant amount of clothing from landfills, Divine Mercy featured the textile recycling program in their newsletter, which helped boost the amount of items recycled.

“As the community of faith, we are delighted to contribute in keeping our earth clean and preserve its beauty as God’s creation,” said Father Ted of the church.

By recycling 9,779 pounds of textiles, the church saved over 68,000 pounds of CO¬2 from entering the atmosphere; they also saved over 13 million gallons of water through their commitment to recycling. Divine Mercy Polish Church’s commitment to textile recycling allowed the community to become more sustainable while also helping the church raise money.

“We’re happy to help Divine Mercy Polish Mission Church raise money through textile recycling,” said Mattias Wallander, CEO of USAgain. “We look forward to promoting sustainability and recycling with them in the future.”

Other recipients of USAgain’s Green-T Awards include Larsen Middle School, Will County Forest Preserve District and Northwestern Memorial Hospital. For a full list of award recipients, visit

USAgain Tree Planting
200,000 Trees in 2013

USAgain’s environmental commitment stretches beyond clothing and textile recycling. In 2013, USAgain is expanding its green initiative by launching a tree-planting campaign, which will result in 200,000 trees being planted in regions of Ethiopia, Kenya and Honduras. By partnering with Trees for the Future, an agroforestry resource center based in Maryland, much-needed trees will be planted in these impoverished, environmentally-ravaged areas.




A semi-arid, mountainous region in southwestern Ethiopia, Konso is the site of USAgain’s tree planting partnership with Trees for the Future, helping to expand two watershed restoration projects in the villages of Duraite and Lehaite. Since 2010, Trees for the Future has been helping to reverse systematic agricultural and overgrazing failures in the area, working to prevent the highly erosive soils in both villages from washing away each wet season.


Due to illegal activities, including timber harvesting, charcoal production, and fuel wood collection, Mount Kenya National Park experienced massive deforestation in the 1980s and 1990s. In an effort to reverse the negative effects deforestation has left on the region, nearly five million trees have been planted in and around Mount Kenya National Park, with USAgain contributing an additional 85,000 trees to be raised in six local nurseries.


Two areas in Honduras have been selected for the USAgain tree planting project. An important watershed, source of irrigation and a stop for migratory birds, the Corralito Wildlife Reserve will receive 20,000 seedlings in 2013. Las Lajas, a major hydroelectric resevoir that provides more than 40% of the electric power for Honduras, will receive 45,000 seedlings of various species in a project meant to reforest the surrounding area.

Featured Employee Profile
Doug McCreight


Doug is Chicago’s Division Manager, responsible for managing operations in Chicagoland, Northern Indiana, Southwest Michigan and Eastern Iowa.

Doug studied Sports Management at the University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse in addition to earning his MBA from Keller Graduate School of Management. He likes to spend free time playing golf, poker and coaching softball, and appreciates working at a company concerned with protecting the planet for his children to enjoy.

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.

SMART Executive Director Visits USAgain Headquarters

USAgain’s Chicago headquarters was pleased to host Jackie King, Executive Director of Secondary Materials and Recycled Textiles (SMART), for a visit and tour of facilities. SMART has been a leading association in the world of wiping materials, used clothing and fiber reclamation since 1932. USAgain became a SMART member earlier this year.

“We’re thrilled to be a part of SMART,” said Mattias Wallander, CEO of USAgain. “’We look forward to working with them to promote the secondhand clothing industry and increase business opportunities for ourselves and others in the industry.”

Like many SMART member-organizations, USAgain seeks increased opportunity to collect textiles for reuse and recycling. Increased opportunities for textile recycling will lead to waste diversion and new jobs in the green sector, the part of the economy comprised of eco-centric businesses.

The secondary textiles industry is estimated by SMART to be worth nearly $1 billion worldwide, but considering that only 15% of textiles are currently diverted from the waste stream, there is room to grow and do good for people and planet in the process.

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