In a year, the average person consumes approximately 100 pounds of textiles and almost 81% of that ends up in the general trash. The city of Boston, in collaboration with Northeast-based textile recycling company Helpsy, is trying to change that. Acting Mayor Kim Janey recently announced an initiative to bring textile and clothing drop-boxes to 11 new locations in the Boston area in an attempt to reduce the amount entering the waste stream. The new boxes are located in municipal lots of public schools in Brighton, Dorchester, East Boston, Hyde Park, Jamaica Plain, South Boston, Roslindale, and West Roxbury.
The boxes are run by Helpsy, which collaborated with Boston Public Works to begin a recycling initiative of textile and clothing boxes in fall of 2020. Now, the city has over 20 drop-boxes in various locations.“Our goal when we think about where we’re going to place [the boxes] is, what would be easy and convenient on the way for people?” said Lisa Sciannella, director of sales and municipal relations at Helpsy. “School is a great fit for that.”
Anyone can donate worn and used clothing as well as textiles such as towels, beddings, curtains and throw rugs. The items are then hand inspected by Helpsy and separated into those that can be resold, reused by being cut into absorbent cleaning rags, or reused for insulation and padding.
The clothing and textiles in good condition are resold to both domestic and international vendors who buy clothing in bulk. According to the press release, Helpsy will calculate the pounds of clothes that were collected from the boxes placed in BPS locations every month and send the school a check quarterly, making it profitable for the schools getting involved.