Every fall, students around the country go back to school, and before that, many go back-to-school shopping. If you plan on buying new clothing and/or shoes for the upcoming school year, please take the time to dispose of your old items in a responsible, eco-friendly way. Clothing and textiles are nearly 100 percent recyclable and your old clothing can be recycled through donation or simple curbside recycling. Many local governments have information on agencies that collect used clothing to assist disadvantaged families in your specific area. This not only makes use of items that would have likely ended up in the landfill, it also provides direct assistance to families in need. In addition to thrift store resale, there are clothing recyclers who convert items to scraps or sell them overseas. Recycled clothing can become anything from cleaning rags and carpet padding to rubberized playgrounds and insulation!
Some major brands make it easy to recycle their items. For example, Nike is working hard to develop systems to recycle and reuse their products in creative ways through a “closed loop” system.
Nike’s “closed loop” vision involves using the fewest possible materials assembled in such a way as to allow them to easily be recycled into new products. One example is their Reuse-A-Shoe program. Started in the early 1990’s, the program was developed to reclaim materials from worn-out athletic shoes that were headed for the landfill. Since the program began, they've collected more than 28 million pairs of used athletic shoes. Today, Nike Grind materials are used in 71% of Nike footwear and apparel products.
Another way that Nike is putting sustainable practices into action is with Flyknit technology. According to their website, “Flyknit technology precisely engineers every stitch of a shoe upper to deliver maximum performance for athletes and produces 60% less waste than traditional cut-and-sew methods. Since 2012, the technology has reduced nearly 3.5 million pounds of waste”.
Other manufacturers are realizing the importance of going green. Before you head out to shop, do some research to find out if a favorite brand is participating in more eco-friendly practices than a competitor. It might make your purchasing decision a little bit easier to find out that one company is taking steps to protect the environment – and our future.
School supplies and electronics can also be recycled. As you begin thinking about what supplies and items might be needed for the upcoming school year, please keep Reduce, Reuse and Recycle in mind. If you need to purchase a new item, please find an eco-friendly home for your previously used items.
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