12-year-old recycles 3,600 pairs of shoes through USAgain | Chicago, IL

Thu November 8, 2012

12-year-old recycles 3,600 pairs of shoes through USAgain

Committed to protecting environment, "EcoErek" travels from Ohio to Chicago Monday

CHICAGO (November 8, 2012) In an effort to keep hundreds of pounds of unwanted shoes out of landfills, 12-year-old Erek Hansen will be bringing in more than 3,600 pairs of shoes he collected since spring 2012 to West Chicago-based clothing recycler USAgain.

The seventh-grader from Curtice, Ohio - also known as "EcoErek" - collected the old or worn-out shoes by organizing dozens of collection drives throughout the Midwest. More than 300 million pairs of shoes are thrown out each year in the United States, and footwear dumped in landfills can take hundreds of years to break down.

"Recycling is so important to protecting our planet," Erek said. "Unfortunately, too many shoes and other clothing are thrown into the trash. A lot of people recycle paper and bottles, but many don't always realize that clothes and shoes can be recycled too. There's no reason to throw your old stuff in the trash where it ends up in a landfill."

USAgain, the industry leader in textile recycling, plans to recycle the shoes for re-use or repurpose them. Worn out shoes are often ground up and manufactured into different types of recreational surfaces, including playgrounds, running tracks and tennis courts.

"Erek is a shining model for anyone who practices and advocates for sustainability," said Mattias Wallander, CEO of USAgain, noting that the U.S. EPA estimates that Americans throw out 85 percent of their clothing and shoes into the trash. "Recycling old or unwanted clothing and shoes reduces waste, saves energy and conserves resources, which ultimately protects our planet."

This year marks the second year Erek will donate shoes to USAgain. In 2011, Erek collected 3,000 pairs of shoes. In return, USAgain made a donation on Erek's behalf to Project Kaisei, a non-profit organization aimed at increasing awareness and fostering clean-up efforts of marine debris.
Erek has been collecting clothing to recycle since 2009. He started by donating jeans to Cotton. From Blue to Green, an organization that collects denim and recycles it into housing insulation, which is donated to communities in need after a natural disaster. Erek is the recent recipient of Action for Nature's 2012 International Young Eco-Hero Award. His goal is to recycle 5,000 pairs of jeans this year. To date, he has collected 4,632.

About USAgain
USAgain, a leader in the textile recycling industry, with corporate headquarters in West Chicago, is a for-profit company that recycles and resells reusable clothing and other textiles. Its mission is to provide consumers with a convenient and eco-friendly option to rid themselves of excess clothing, which are then diverted from landfills, and resold to markets in need of affordable clothing. USAgain maintains more than 10,000 collection boxes in 17 states and has over 200 employees. USAgain has partnered with more than 1,000 organizations - including schools, churches, food banks, hospitals, fire stations, humane societies and youth groups - as part of its charitable giving program. For more information, visit www.usagain.com.