When you’re done with old shirts and pants, you may think your only options are the Salvation Army or the garbage.
But there’s another, more eco-friendly option as close as the nearest greenmarket.
Every Saturday, Wearable Collections collects sheets, shirts, shoes, and a laundry list of other goods for recycling at the Grand Army Plaza Greenmarket.
“We get everything. We get beautiful things and we get socks with holes and stains on them,” said Alex Thoman of Wearable Collections.
On a recent Saturday, a quick look turned up a brand new Ann Taylor blouse, scrap fabric from a sewing project, and an old set of curtains.
The quality determines what happens next. Clothes that can be worn again are sent to markets in South and Central America for resale. Fabric can be cut into rags and resold for that purpose. And the remaining textiles are broken down into fiber for use as filler for mattresses, home insulation, or to manufacture cushions for car seats.
Local residents said they’re just glad to be doing something that’s good for the environment.
Kate, a Prospect Heights resident who declined to give her last name, came to recycle her clothes for the third time. “I’ve got pants, shoes, t-shirts, socks, and shoes,” she said. “I’d rather it be recycled than thrown away.”
Despite its green tag, clothing recycling still has yet to become a mainstream practice.
“More people are learning about it, but the majority of people still don’t know about it,” said Thoman.
Still, the company collects an average of 25,000 to 30,000 pounds of material each week at nine greenmarkets across the city. They also have bins in residential buildingsThey also have bins in dozens of residential buildings, primarily in Manhattan, as well as a few schools and stores, including Still Hip in Fort Greene.
Wearable Collections was created in 2000 after president Ethan Ruby was paralyzed in a car accident. The company uses the proceeds from the resale of materials to raise funds for spinal cord research. But even without the philanthropic aim, donators feel like they’re doing something good.
“It feels better than throwing it out,” said Park Slope resident Venezia Michalsen. “It’s like composting for stuff.”