Discarded textiles, such as clothes and towels, represent more than 7 percent of the city's waste stream. But there's been an effort underway to decrease the amount thrown away.
'Re-Fashion', a new partnership with the city's Sanitation Department and the non-profit Housing Works is installing textile collection bins in residential buildings.
Councilwoman Jessica Lappin helped author the bill that allows interested New Yorkers to arrange to have recycling containers installed in their apartment building. "You might have a laundry room or a garbage room or a place that has room and it’s very easy to get the city to put one in and come and empty it out whenever you need." More than 150 bins have been installed since last spring in residential buildings.
Recycling of cans, bottles and paper has already become second nature to those who want to decrease the amount of waste they contribute to landfills. The next frontier for the ecologically minded is textiles, said Letitia James, chair of the City Council's Sanitation Committee. She said more New Yorkers need to know that discarded clothes, linens, and other scraps can be reused.
"And these materials are eminently recyclable both as used clothing or as feed stock for other materials including the stuffing you find in your car seat," said the council woman.
A pilot program started by the Bloomberg administration in 2007 has already collected more than 1 million pounds of textiles for reuse and recycling. Donation bins can be found in eight different green markets in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens at various times throughout the week.
The City Council Sanitation and Solid Waste Committee will hold an oversight hearing on the progress of textile recycling programs this coming Friday and will examine how to expand efforts in the commercial and retail sector.