Wear, Tear, Don’t Despair

Although many consider ripped jeans to be in style, others don’t appreciated torn clothes and dispose of them regularly.

So much so that in New York State, over 1.4 billion pounds of clothes and textiles are trashed annually, according to federal reports.

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation said these items, 85 percent of all unwanted textiles with an estimated market value of $200 million, have reached the end of the line: a landfill.

The other 15 percent is recycled by oby organizations like The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, who held a textile collection Saturday, Nov. 29 at their headquarters on South Putt Corners Road in New Paltz.

The event was part of a larger state wide recovery campaign sponsored by the New York State Association for Reduction, Reuse and Recycling in an effort to address the serious concern of textiles in landfills, according to Michelle Bergkemp, the UCRRA recycling coordinator.

They collected clothing, bedding, shoes, pillows, belts and even stuffed animals. These items were then sorted and distributed to local charities. Bergkemp said the items that were not in reusable condition were sent to The Cyntex Company, a textile recycling center in Westchester, to be used for insulation, wiping rags or broken down for fiber.

“This event is an important step in creating a new consciousness around sustainable consumption and in reaching a closed loop solution for unwanted textiles,” Bergkemp said.

Experts estimate that 95 percent of all cloth household items could be recycled; and in the recovery and recycling of all of them, 9,600 jobs would be created in New York State.

“Not only does this initiative prevent textiles from ending up in the landfill, but it conserves resources and creates jobs, representing the best of the green economy,” Bergkamp said.

Laura Petit, recycling coordinator for the Town of New Paltz, said textile recycling is very important. It eliminates the long process of growing or collecting fiber and then reproducing textiles.

The items collected Saturday were split up among different charities based on the charities need.

Family of New Paltz received clothing and stuffed animals that were divided by men’s, women’s and children’s. The 501(c)(3) not for profit organization operates under Family of Woodstock Inc. to provide food, counseling, clothing and resources to anyone in need, according to their website.

The Ulster County SPCA received towels and sheets.

The Devereux Foundation, which provides services to children, adults and families with special needs, was given curtains, footwear and suspenders.

The Washbourne House is a 17-bed local home for victims of domestic violence. From its confidential location, it provides individual and group support-counseling, case management, parenting and children’s services for all residents, according to its website. They received plenty of towels, comforters and twin size sheets.

Petit said the next event may be a clothing swap called “Swap for Success.” She said she got the idea from a few girls at the Lenape School who would constantly swap clothing so they would always have new outfits.