By Toni Brannagan
Raise your hand if you’ve thrown out a piece of clothing in the past year. *Slowly raises hand.*
Wait, you might be saying, “But I only throw out torn or stained clothing, not clothes that I can donate!” Here’s the thing, you can actually recycle alllll textiles, including those ~unwearable~ items you may have been previously trashing.
We know that you’re probably already doing your best to recycle cans, paper, and reduce your single-use plastic, but people aren’t usually thinking about the clothes, shoes, and accessories they are also consuming then discarding. The United States alone tosses around 11 million tons of textiles a year – um, that’s a whoooole lot of landfill, especially when textiles can be recycled.
If you’re looking to lessen the ~82 pounds of textile waste each American is responsible for, look no further than HELPSY, whose mission is to do exactly that: reduce textile waste. After just one year in business, they have already become the largest clothing collection company in the Northeast US, and have collected about 20 million pounds of clothes. They’re committed to getting clothing to the people that need it, and when that’s not applicable, keeping textiles out of landfills.
I don’t know about you, but before learning about HELPSY, I genuinely didn’t know that things like shoes or stained underwear had anywhere to live other than the trash can. Besides educating people about textile waste, one of HELPSY’s goals is to make it easier for people to recycle their clothes, in general.
Here at THINX, we have bins right in our office where everyone can donate all their old clothes, shoes, and more – interested in one for your business or apartment complex? Check ‘em out. Let me tell you, my closet (and my boyfriend’s closet and my mom’s closet) are all the lighter for it, without contributing to a landfill. HELPSY has also launched a home pick-up program in the Bronx and Westchester County, and will be expanding the service soon.
Curious about what exactly falls under the umbrella of “all textiles?” I was too, so Rachel Kibbe, the co-founder of HELPSY, cleared things up. Besides clothing, you can also recycle intimates, shoes, handbags, linens, towels, and sleeping bags, in any condition, through HELPSY.
Now after you’ve donated all your unused clothing and more, how does one break the cycle? Rachel’s answer: buy used. Besides the environmental benefits, seriously, thrifting is waaay cheaper than buying new. Rachel recommended websites like Thredup and Poshmark, where you can buy toooons of hardly used, fashionable clothes.
The cycle of fast fashion isn’t just hurting Mother Nature, but by letting H&M trick us into feeling like we NEED the latest trends in one of their 52 micro-seasons of fashion, we’re allowing the industry to control us.
In Rachel’s words? “The future is used!”
Do you have any tips for building a green wardrobe? What are your favorite sustainable fashion brands? Share them with us in the comments!