Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Green Is The New Black--Green Textile Recycling, That Is.

Last week, we attended the California Resource Recovery Association conference. We attended a seminar about ReUse and Repair with four very interesting, keynote speakers, each with something valuable to share. Today, I want to talk about what Christopher Mkpado is doing, as he puts his best fashion foot forward.

Did you know that thrift stores in America are closing down? In this economy, I expected them to be striving. Well, they’re not. As I learned from Christopher's presentation, thrift stores only sell 25% of the clothes receive. The rest of those perfectly good clothes end up in our landfills! It is extremely costly for thrift stores to dispose of those clothes, and money is just one factor. Sales are also down because consumers can now buy cheap, new clothes at Walmart and similar stores, leaving the thrift stores out of business.

Did you know… “textile waste makes up approximately 8% of the total waste in California? While the Environmental Protection Agency estimates that about 97% of post-consumer textile waste is recyclable, unlike paper, plastic, and aluminum waste recycling, most communities do not have systems in place to address the fabric component of the waste stream.” I had never given textiles much thought. Thank goodness Christopher did.

Christopher saw the need to reduce the needless waste, and thus, he spearheaded the company Textile Waste Solutions in 1995. He partnered with the City of Santa Maria to take the garments headed to the landfill and give them new life. Here’s how the magic happens. The usable garments clothe people in third world countries. Unusable garments become industrial rags and what’s left become fibers that can be used in upholstery or acoustical soundproofing. Christopher has recycled 1.2 million pounds of textiles per year in Santa Maria and hopes to increase that number to 2 million this year. He has also formed a partnership with Santa Barbara and hopes to recycle another 2 million pounds through that program. One man with a vision, employing many people, diverting waste, extending the life of landfills and making a big impact on his community.

I love what he is doing. Christopher ended his presentation with a simple sentence: “This can be done anywhere.” So, why isn’t it? Perhaps you want to do this in your community? Contact Christopher. He’s willing to teach you how. Here's hoping that this new recycling trend will take the worldwide fashion industries and communities by storm.

For more information about Textile Waste Solution, visit their website at www.twaste.com.

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