Tue October 4, 2011

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For Profit Company Gives New Life to Old Clothes

Article by Debra Fitzgerald – October 4, 2011

Many Americans bag the clothes they prune from their closets and drop the bags at Goodwill or a local thrift store

Another option became available in Pipestone this summer for used clothes, shoes, towels, sheets, tablecloths and other textiles.

Beginning in May of this year, USAgain (pronounced use again), established a presence in Pipestone with its green and white drop boxes, currently located at Hank's Foods, Freedom Valu Center, JBs Foodmart Shell, and the Pipestone County Recycling center at 718 Fourth St. NW. Residents can drop used clothing, shoes and other textiles into the boxes. USAgain services each box once a week or more and compensates the businesses that host the bins for every pound of clothing collected.

To date, the five Pipestone bins have collected some 9,252 pounds, according to Jen Hirsch, a spokesperson for USAgain.

USAgain is a for profit, Chicago-based textile company with a green mission of providing consumers with eco-friendly ways to discard unwanted textiles, which the company then diverts from landfills for resale in the U.S. and abroad.

Hirsch said Monday that USAgain sells the collected clothing to U.S. thrift stores and overseas markets.

"Some items, like textiles that aren't clothing and can't be worn again, go to a variety of sources," Hirsch said. "They're ground up and used for insulation or furniture padding. A common way cotton is used is its cut up and reused as industrial rags."

The company was founded in 1999 and currently has over 10,000 bins in 15 states. The company also collects clothing by entering into profit-sharing arrangements with schools and businesses, hosts collection contests and collects clothing at various events, such as marathons.

"There are so many discarded clothing items because as runners warm up they shed layers of clothes and then those clothes are usually abandoned," Hirsch said.

In 2010 alone, USAgain collected 56 million pounds of discarded clothing, according to its website, and diverted 431,212,095 items from landfills - as of Monday, Sept. 26.