Stephen Nessen, Reporter, WNYC News
Stephen Nessen reports for the WNYC Newsroom and can often be heard live on Morning Edition.
While the streets of New York will be filled this Sunday with some of the most fit runners from over 100 countries here to participate in the New York City Marathon, those runners will be leaving behind an impressive amount of trash. Particularly at the start of the race.
Runners arriving in the early hours of the morning come bundled in warm sweat suits, jackets and even sleeping bags. But when the race begins, they'll shed those layers, leaving behind a mountain of wearable detritus.
That's where Adam Baruchowitz, the 37-year-old founder of Wearable Collections comes in. Baruchowitz and a team of about 50 will collect as much of the discarded gear as possible before the Department of Sanitation shows up. "And once that happens, especially with clothing, once it gets commingled with other items, and wet, it's pretty much trash," Baruchowitz said.
Last year, Wearble Collections gathered 27,000 pounds of clothing at the marathon. Baruchowitz is hoping to break the company's one-day collection record and load up 40,000 on Sunday.
The most surprising thing Baruchowitz found last year was a large amount of discarded shoes. "A lot of people like to run in a fresh pair of sneakers. So they'll hang out in their old pair of sneakers, and when it's time to run, they'll discard the older sneakers," he said.
The clothing will be sent to a sorting center, which will ultimately determine what the clothing will be used for. According to Baruchowitz, he expects about half of the clothing will be sent to second-hand shops, 25-30 percent will be used as rags in heavy industry and 20-25 percent will be shredded and re-purposed for low-grade fiber products.
This Sunday is the 41st New York City Marathon, with 45,000 runners from all 50 states and over 100 countries expected to participate.