Whether you donate your old clothes and shoes to a charity or drop them in a local collection bin, that small effort will help cut down on waste.
The for-profit company USAgain has more than 10,0000 bins across the country set out to collect clothing cast-offs. You have probably noticed bins dotting your neighborhood; 1,500 are in the Chicago area alone.
"Our operation is all wholesale," said Carlo Cavallaro, USAgain. "We do minimal sorting. We separate clothes from shoes. They're bailed and then they're sold wholesale."
The company, which is headquartered in West Chicago, reports most of the materials are re-used or re-purposed in the United States.
"Half the materials are sold domestically through thrift stores," said Cavallaro. "Twenty-five percent is sold internationally for their retail operations and then the other 25 percent is generally recycled into wiping rags, insulation blankets and other recycling materials."
USAgain estimates it redirected upwards of 56 million pounds of textiles from landfills across the nation last year.
"It's 10 million pounds that we collected out of Illinois from right here out of this warehouse, and that's about 2,300 garbage trucks," said Cavallaor. "So those are taken directly out of a landfill."
An estimated 95 percent of textiles can be re-used or recycled if they are diverted from the trash, but only about 15 percent is actually recovered.
For more information on where you can find a USAgain bin, visit www.usagain.com.