Last week was an extremely busy week for Wearable Collections. It seemed as if everyone in New York was cleaning out their closets. We hosted dozens of drives with community groups, residential complexes and even one smack dab in the middle of Times Sq with the Broadway Green Alliance. On top of hanging out and speaking with the public at some of these events, I also got the opportunity to do some public speaking. Lots of discussions about what we do: handling clothing collections, waste managment, charitable giving and community building. I can speak all day on these topics and often do, but for me the conversation kept on coming back to one thing – PEOPLE.
On Earth day its not unusual for the discussion to circle around saving the Earth. I have read many books on the environment, pollution and garbage. All this reading had lead me to one conclusion – The Earth is gonna be fine in her ever evolving status. What’s at jeopardy is our ability to inhabit her. Humans, we too are a resilient, but need very specific environment to live healthily. When I speak to people about why we should care about the environment, it always leads me back to the idea of living consciously. About being educated about the articles of clothing we wear, the food we ingest, the products we put in our hair and on our body. There is so much mis-information out there and people live such busy lives that they throw their hands in surrender – saying they dont have the time to care about all these things.
Well, I believe that every day should be a celebration of the Earth. The wondrous place that we all call home and not a day should go by where we don’t contemplate and be in awe and aware of all the products that surround us. But also the people that produce these products and how their lives are affected by our consumption habits. When I speak to people about my experience in diverting 10 million lbs of clothing,shoes and textiles over 10 years, I often come back to raising the public’s consciousness of the value of the wastestream. It seems like something that people can relate. But also, what has gone into the production of clothes before they are ever worn. The cotton that takes loads of water and pesticides to produce, the energy that it takes to ship this cotton to lands where it is turned into garments, the toxins in the dye that pollute the rivers in the lands where the garments are finalized, the shipping back to the garments final destination. That’s a whole lot of lives affected by production and consumption. There is a saying that says – out of sight, out of mind. When i think of Earth Day, I think of bringing back into mind all of those who are out of sight. A conscious life is a healthy life, and as overall consciousness is raised we will all benefit…….and so will the Earth.
Incredibly, this Earth Week, 10 years into our companies’ existence, we will surpass the milestone of 10 million lbs of clothing, shoes and textiles recycled. This is an achievement that we are extremely proud of and while that number is a very large one, it is still only a small percentage of what is still destined for landfills. I would like to share some tidbits of wisdom I have learned along the way in hopes that others can have a smoother path in search of recycling solutions.
- Sometimes a Project Turns Into a Business
We started out 10 years ago with the idea of raising funds for a cause that was near and dear to us. That cause, spinal cord research, compelled us as one of our co-founders was left paralyzed when hit by a car. At the time, we knew very little about the amount of clothing that was cluttering up our wastestream. As we learned more about the problem of textile waste, coming up with solutions was something we couldn’t walk away from.
- It’s Hard to Compete with Non-Profits
I know, it sounds silly even saying a line like that. But what I mean is that it is hard to compete with the idea and perception of non-profits, especially in the realm of clothing collections. We are a small biz that dedicates a portion of our proceeds to charity. There hasn’t been one year where we have profited more than we have given to charity yet there are still people who act as if we are a big box corporation simply because we are for profit. We are proud to be among the early social entrepreneurs and plan to continually make a mark along this path.
- Partner, Partner, Partner
A great partner can go a long way in helping you achieve your mission. We couldn’t have accomplished even a small percentage of what we have without our great partners. Partners can come in all shapes and sizes and some of our best ones weren’t the most obvious ones. We feel that we can work with anyone: individual, school, corporation and charities. All it takes is a little creativity.
- Being Proficient Online can Have a Major Impact on an Offline Business
While we spend most of our energy driving around collecting clothes in what is very manually intensive labor, we cannot stress enough the importance of having a strong presence online has meant to the business. A simple REQUEST A BIN form placed on our website in 2005 did wonders for generating interest in the company and connecting us to buildings. The web is the best way to leverage your output. Something every business needs to do.
- You Can Never Stop Innovating
In this age of instant gratification and inundation of social media, ideas become stale very quickly. In order to remain relevant you need to continually push the ticket. Resting on your laurels will likely lead to dying on your laurels.
- Running a logistics company in NYC is challenging
Street closures, construction on new buildings, subway lines, the oh too infrequent ticker tape parade, and the big one..TRAFFIC, all make for a dynamic puzzle that needs to be solved each and every day. Much respect to companies like Fedex and UPS who make it look routine.
- Used Clothing is a Commodity
Like all commodities it is subject to market conditions. For some reason there is a dearth of data on the industry. Used clothing is rarely spoken in the same breath as other commodities such as plastic, metal and paper, but when the dollar is strong, like it currently is, it puts a lot of pressure on distribution of collections and we need to adapt.
- Winters Can be Very Cruel to Business in the Northeast
The last few winters have been brutal in the northeast. Not many businesses escape the wrath of such an onslaught. It can be especially hard for small businesses that don’t have the resources or cushion to do proper risk mitigation. It has felt a little ironic the past couple of winters, running an eco-friendly business while being blasted by Mother Earth.
- You Can’t Make Everyone Happy
Its an old truism but something that I have really had to internalize lately. We have needed to adapt to the changing market conditions which has left some folks a little upset. That being said, when we do hear a complaint, we try to connect the dots and develop a solution.
- Serving the Public is Very Rewarding
We have met so many great people along the way, ones who actually bless us as we handle their discards. This relationship has meant so much to our success and inspires us to do more.
Wow! After going through all these lessons its hard to believe that we were able to make it to 10 million lbs. Thanks to all of you for your support over the years.
If you are anything like us, we imagine that you celebrate the Earth most every day. But April is that time of year when we get a chance to show that love outwardly. There are many ways both big and small that we can show our appreciation for Mother Earth. Here are a few ways that together we can turn tiny acts into big impact.
Request a Bin for your building – A bin in your building is the gift that keeps on giving. Both you and your neighbors will never know how you lived without one.
Host a drive for your organization/building – Not everyone can have a permanent bin nearby but that shouldn’t stop you from benefiting from our service. We will help you create a one day or multiple day event that will help your community keep clothing out of landfills. We are flexible and creative. Put us to the test!
Visit a local GrowNYC greenmarket – Where else can you recycle clothing and shoes while supporting farmers and producers from the region.
Whether you are an individual who wants to bring our service home, or an employee who would like to share it with their colleagues, we are eager to find a way to work with you.
FILL OUT THE FORM BELOW TO REQUEST A BIN FOR YOUR BUILDING
Like any other forward thinking company, Wearable Collections continues to evolve. We are extremely pleased to announce the roll-out of our Clothing, Shoe & Textile recycling bin 3.0.
We will be swapping out our existing bins for the new and improved ones early 2015. But you don’t have to be an existing collector to reap the benefits of these new beautiful bins. Now is a perfect time to sign up your building. No New Yorker should be without the convenience of a clothing and shoe recycling bin nearby!
The average New Yorker tosses 46 pounds of clothing and textiles in the trash each year, totaling 6% of our entire residential waste stream. But with your help, landfills are going on a diet. More than 80,000 New Yorkers have helped NYC lose 1.4 million pounds by recycling unwanted clothing, linens, paired shoes, hand bags and more through textile recycling initiatives.
YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE
Rather than having your residents haul their clothing to a collection site, or worse, dump them in the trash, Wearable Collections can pick up (free of charge) any unwanted textiles. You can arrange a pick up at your convenience monthly, quarterly, semi-annually or annually or Wearable Collections can place a receptacle in your building for your recycling convenience that is emptied on a regular basis. The goal is to reduce clothing in landfills while helping raise funds for non-profits. It is easy to do!
EASE & CONVENIENCE
Wearable Collections’ goal is to maximize clothing recycled while minimizing inconvenience to you. If you are interested in participating in our clothing recycling program,Wearable Collections will find a way to work within your building’s constraints.
FILL OUT THE FORM BELOW TO REQUEST A BIN FOR YOUR BUILDING
We are always trying to make clothing recycling more convenient. Well, what could be more convenient than recycling from the comforts of your own home? Keep in mind we can’t be driving around this busy city for one bag at a time. That just wouldn’t be environmentally efficient nor economically viable. But if you do reach these minimums for your area, we will gladly come right to you. If the minimums seem to large for a personal donation, engage your neighbors. That’s what Wearable Collections is all about!
Minimums (in large kitchen bags)
Manhattan – 5
Brooklyn – 20
Queens, Bronx, and Staten Island – 35
FILL OUT THE FORM BELOW TO SCHEDULE A PICK-UP
Take a look at the shining light of our life, Blue Betty. Good ole Betty has treated us well over the years, but we have always had bigger dreams for her. We would like to take this blank slate and turn her into a vehicle that not only looks beautiful, but also provides the service of clothing recycling to under-serviced neighborhoods throughout the borough of Brooklyn and beyond.
Come along and lets make history together with Betty.
At the end of last year we got so caught up celebrating our 10th anniversary that we almost forgot a major accomplishment, we were soon to surpass 10 million lbs collected as a company. With a little over 100,000 lbs to go, we are expecting a to blow through that mark by the beginning of April. This is an accomplishment we can all share together. Host a drive and help us in our final push to 10 Million lbs. Collecting used clothing can sometimes be a thankless job but along the journey to 10 Million lbs we have met so many great people and we continue to be inspired by all of you.
HOST A DRIVE TODAY
WEARABLE AS A WORK OPPORTUNITY
Whether you are a college student looking for a summer internship or a PR maven searching for the next IT brand to launch nationwide, Wearable Collections has opportunities for you. We consider Wearable Collections a platform that can be engaging for folks all along the spectrum of life. We are always looking for bright minds to help us fulfill our potential.
Join the GrowNYC community for seasonal beverages and hors d’oeuvres as we Thaw out from a long winter, reconnect with one another and look ahead to spring.
Hosted by Room & Board
For more than 30 years, Room & Board has focused on the simple idea that good design should be beautiful, affordable and long-lasting. We work closely with American artisans to offer furniture and accessories—even custom pieces—that fit the needs of modern life. We’re proud to say that more than 90 percent of the products we sell are handcrafted in the U.S. to give customers the best combination of quality and price.
Room & Board
236 West 18th Street
New York, NY 10011
Wednesday, April 1, 2015
from 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM (EDT)
GrowNYC is a resource for any New Yorker who wants to create a healthier city, for themselves, for their neighbors and for the next generation. GrowNYC provides opportunities for making sustainable choices and actions a permanent fixture of NYC—textile recycling, building-wide and school-wide recycling programs, healthy eating at their 54 Greenmarkets, composting, school and community gardens, reuse opportunities like Stop ‘N’ Swap events, and much more.
Your donation today means more gardens, greenmarkets, cleaner air and water—a greener and healthier New York.
*The non-deductible portion of each ticket is $25, as this reflects the fair market value of goods and services to be provided at the event.
It takes over 700 gallons of water to manufacture one cotton t-shirt and one-third of a pound of pesticides to grow the cotton used for its production. The manufacturing process for a pair of jeans uses approximately 400 mega joules of energy and emits as much carbon dioxide as driving 78 miles. And that is just the beginning, since almost half of the environmental impact of an apparel item comes from consumer use and “end of life,” resulting in 14.3 million tons of textile waste generated every year in the United States alone. Curious to know what all this means and what we can do to limit the environmental and social impacts of the clothing we wear every day?
This month, our forum will explore the subject of eco and ethical fashion. We will discuss the current state of the industry and introduce designers and manufactures working to build a greener future for the apparel sector. Don’t miss this intimate conversation and have your questions answered by thought leaders in the field of sustainable apparel.
March Forum: Sustainable Apparel 101
Bard MBA Classroom
New York, New York 10036
Wednesday, March 18, 2015 from 6:30 PM to 8:00 PM
Speakers will include:
Kate Black, Editor-in-Chief at Magnifeco.com, Creator of EcoSessions
Melissa Cantor, Co-Founder & Editor at Ethica
Francisca Pineda, Creative Director of BHAVA, Founder of Ethical Fashion Academy
This forum is free and open to the public!
co-hosted by Net Impact Bard MBA
A community-oriented, volunteer-run organization, GreenHomeNYC’s mission is to facilitate the adoption of sustainable building methods and materials by owners of small residential and commercial buildings in New York City.
GreenHomeNYC aims to be a hub of resources for small building owners, to promote the understanding of green building issues, and to connect building owners with local green building service and materials providers.
GreenHomeNYC is also a long time affiliate of the Northeast Sustainable Energy Association (NESEA), the nation’s leading regional membership organization focused on promoting the understanding, development, and adoption of energy conservation and non-polluting, renewable energy technologies. To find out more, visit www.nesea.org.
GreenHomeNYC is a registered 501(c)3 tax-exempt nonprofit corporation
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