By Tina Snell, Staff Writer
They seem to be everywhere, those boxes that suddenly appear in parking lots around Morrison County. The wording on the boxes instruct people to put their unused, worn or obsolete clothing inside and the items will be recycled.
But, where does the clothing go and who does it benefit?
USAgain (pronounced ‘use again’), started in 1999, with its headquarters in Chicago, Ill. It was established to keep tons of textiles out of landfills. In 2011, the company collected 60 million pounds of textiles for reuse and recycling around the globe.
The waste created by textiles being thrown in landfills is huge. Approximately 13.1 million tons of textiles are discarded annually. What is recycled has amounted to about 15 percent of that.
By diverting these textiles from the landfills, USAgain also prevents 42 million pounds of CO2 from entering the atmosphere.
“Every day people throw away perfectly reusable and recyclable textiles, clothes and shoes because they don’t have a convenient option for recycling,” said USAgain CEO Mattias Wallander. “It is our goal to prevent these items from being trashed and put them back in use.”
USAgain, a green for-profit company, with more than 10,000 drop boxes across 15 states, offers people a convenient option for disposing unwanted clothing, shoes and other textiles. What is collected is sold second-hand in the United States and around the globe. Items that are not wearable are recycled into industrial wiping rags, furniture padding, insulation and more.
Trucks bring the collected textiles to the warehouse, the closest one is located in Minneapolis, where they are sorted and baled. The one-ton bales are then resold, sent overseas or set aside for rags.
Jen Hirsch, the public relations spokesperson for USAgain said the boxes will be in the Morrison County area for as long as people use them.
“When they aren’t being used any longer, they will be removed,” she said. She also said they are checked weekly and the boxes are emptied.
Locally, the boxes may be found in Little Falls at the Belle Prairie Jet Inc., the Boys and Girls Club, the Little Falls Kwik Mart, Northway Oil and True Value Fleet Supply. They may also be found at Brick’s, the Motley BP,
Pineview Convenience Store and Two Rivers Grocery in Motley; the Petro Plus in Randall; the Pierz BP and Red’s Auto in Pierz; and Scottie’s Log Bar in Royalton.