Auburn-based company's ‘green’ effort puts donations to use | Auburn Reporter

Thu January 13, 2011

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Auburn Reporter Editor

What began with a few volunteers and one drop-off point in Seattle more than 10 years ago has grown to something substantially bigger for one "green" for-profit company.

Auburn's eco-friendly USAgain (Use it Again) is ramping up its campaign to collect unwanted textiles and necessities and resell them throughout the county and abroad. The idea is to effectively divert millions of pounds of clothing from landfills, generate new revenue streams for domestic businesses and non-profits, and fuel local economies in emerging countries.

The company, whose clothes collection system has spread to about 9,000 donation bins in 14 states, has extended its reach locally, forging a partnership to help the Auburn School District and the Auburn Food Bank.

"We're trying to do a lot of things, not only for the city of Auburn and Auburn schools, but the food bank and the overall community," said Jeff Ross, corporate site director for USAgain. "Even though we are a for-profit company, we give a lot back to communities, and we are looking for more ways to help out local people."

There are 30 drop-off bins located at businesses and schools in Auburn where the public can donate gently-used clothing.

USAgain also collects shoes and boots, gloves and hats, linens, blankets and towels.

"Eighty percent of used clothing is going into a landfill despite the efforts of nonprofits and for-profit agencies," Ross said. "And there's a huge demand for used clothing outside America ... and we're saving them from the landfill."

USAgain is reciprocating. While its main charity is the Children's Miracle Network, the company also contributes to many other organizations.

Locally, the company is supporting schools and businesses. Those participants earn 2 cents off every pound of donated textiles. Businesses also have the choice of donating to a charity on its behalf.

In addition, USAgain supports a "Coats for Kids" program for interested schools.

"Not only can we help out your school financially but help out your school with other things, like backpacks, coats, hats, gloves for economically challenged kids," Ross added.

Regional hotels have joined the USAgain's donation network, contributing linen and other discarded supplies to food banks.

"All we want as a company is to make sure it doesn't wind up in the garbage. And while we are there already picking up, we're even willing to drop it off to Northwest Harvest or the food bank," Ross said. "We're willing to go the extra mile as a company to make sure that stuff isn't going into a landfill, and that's what we're about."

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