From the largest to the smallest, every business creates waste of some kind. Paper, old copier cartridges, used motor oil, shopping bags, metal shavings, outdated tech, Brian’s lunch from last week that he left in the break room fridge. Much of the material that ends up in your trash destined for the landfill doesn’t have to go there. I introduced some methods to implement for reducing the amount of waste that your business generates in my blog post of July 20th about closing the consumption circle. All of the materials I listed above, with the exception of Brian’s problematic lunch, already have recycling methods in place preventing those materials from being added to landfills.
Here are some additional, nationally available resources for diverting material from the waste stream into uses that provide meaningful work opportunities, sustain businesses and non-profits, support our economy, reduce dependence on social safety nets, and make your company look good.
Goodwill Industries is one of our country’s most well known non-profits that divert apparel from the waste stream. But did you know you can also recycle un-usable textiles there? When you take damaged textiles of any kind there, bag and label the items as damaged so they can be properly processed. Just don’t bring them items stained with products like motor oil or gasoline. Here’s a page of FAQ’s about the donation process and how your donations are used. Note: those boxes in parking lots for unwanted textiles may be more convenient to use, but Goodwill employs the money your donations generate in your local area in proven programs that benefit your neighbors.
Techsoup.org has a Refurbished Computer Initiative which takes in old computers and related equipment then refurbishes them to donate to non-profits. They also write a great blog featuring meaty tech info aimed at non-profits.
Fabscrap.org has developed the perfect system to help garment designers and manufacturers divert their unused fabrics from the waste stream. Even proprietary textiles are recycled by shredding to be turned into such products as carpet padding. Check out their About page here.
And locally, in CT, here are further resources.
EcoworksCT in New Haven diverts unwanted materials of many kinds from the waste stream then resells it at a very reduced rate, to teachers, artists, schools, etc. From personal experience, I can say that, although you can depend on them to have wall paper samples, pieces of metal and maps, you will always be surprised by some new item that has come in.
United Sewing and Design employs individuals with barriers to well-paid employment to sew one-of-a-kind items from all sorts of materials. In the past we’ve used vintage textiles, denim, paper, trims, and vinyl banners to make new products. Visit our White Horse Style brand page to see examples of what we’ve created then contact us to have a private consultation about remaking your waste into great new products!
Mary Ruth, Owner of United Sewing and Design has over 30 years experience in the manufacturing of products by sewing and is author of “Industry Sewing Construction Methods” http://amzn.to/2yMxMmk. Her focus is on design, entrepreneurship; social enterprise; the connections between the environment, the apparel industry, and manufacturing; and how owners can leverage artistic methods to benefit their business.