Clothing recycling a focus for MSU Surplus Store
As sustainability and recycling become main goals at MSU, one organization is making the community aware of another way to help the Earth.
The MSU Surplus Store and Recycling Center collects clothing through a program called “Pack Up. Pitch In.”
The program has been in place since 1996 and is run through MSU, according to the Residence Education and Housing Services website.
James Ives, education and outreach coordinator for the MSU Surplus Store, encouraged people to think about donating or recycling their clothing instead of throwing it away.
“Clothing, as with anything else, it just — versus going out and buying new (clothes) — for one, it saves money,” he said. “It does save a lot of natural resources. There’s a lot of water, there are a lot of things that go into making clothing that I don’t think people really understand.”
According to the Secondary Manufacturing and Recycled Textiles Association, or SMART, nearly 100 percent of clothing and textiles are recyclable.
Additionally, the environmental impact of a household’s clothing is equal to the amount of water needed to fill 1,000 bathtubs and the carbon emission from driving an average modern car for 6,000 miles, according to SMART.
Human biology sophomore Sloane Marenas said she sees the value in donating her clothing.
“I think it’s a good idea,” Marenas said. “I do it personally, I donate to Salvation Army and I buy from Plato’s Closet.”
Ives stressed the impact making clothes has on the environment.
“It takes around 1,800 gallons of water to grow enough cotton to produce just one pair of regular blue jeans,” Ives said in an email.
He also said a cotton T-shirt isn’t “as bad” as jeans, but it still takes 400 gallons of water to grow the cotton to make the T-shirt.
Laura Grimwood, director of communications for the City Rescue Mission, a nonprofit in Lansing that runs a thrift shop, said the organization does take clothing donations, but their method isn’t conventional.
“How we operate is a little different in that we have a thrift store,” Grimwood said. “Our guests are given clothing vouchers when they go to the thrift store and they can get clothing items that they need for free, which is great for them. They get the shopping experience.”
Grimwood said people can go in and buy the clothing in City Mission Upscale Thrift, located at 3700 W Saginaw St. in Lansing.
The money made from those transactions goes toward getting more clothing items necessary for the Mission’s guests as well as other costs such as shelter and food, Grimwood said.
Ives said he thinks donating clothing is better than throwing it in the trash.
“If you throw it out, it’s just going to go in a landfill and rot, it’s just going to be gone,” Ives said. “But if you choose to donate it, you know, you’re extending the life cycle of that object. ... We would definitely want people to reuse the item before it gets recycled and definitely before it gets landfilled.”