Donating and Clothing Recycling In the Era of COVID-19
One of the few upsides of a pandemic? Finally, many of us have had time to clean our closets.
The downside is there hasn’t been anywhere for us to bring the clothes we’ve decided to donate or discard, and even with businesses starting to reopen it can be unclear how and where we can get rid of our discarded items. Thankfully, the trash can is NOT your only option. Many businesses and non-profits are accepting donations of clothing and textiles at this time and have recycling programs for cloth items that can no longer be used.
If you’re in the Bard area then People’s Place in Kingston is a great place to bring clothing, furniture, and any other still-useable items. All the profits from their thrift store go towards stocking their food pantry and supporting their other programs, including providing free clothes for those in need. All donations should be laundered, folded, placed in a clear plastic bag, and dropped off between 10am and 1pm Monday through Friday. For more information on how to donate click here.
For those of us who are located elsewhere, staples like Goodwill and The Salvation Army are starting to reopen across the country and other parts of the world. More than 85% of Goodwills are currently accepting donations and many Salvation Army stores offer pick up and drop off services. However, whether a store is open and/or accepting donations depends on the area so it’s best to call your local store to find out what it's doing. Click here to find out which Salvation Army operations are functioning near you and click here to find the website of your nearest Goodwill.
Make sure all items you donate are clean and dry, and if you can get stains out before you donate it will lengthen the life of the item, but even stained or unwearable clothing/ other unusable textiles can be brought to The Salvation Army and Goodwill, which recycle unsellable fabric. Many other retailers have clothing recycling programs that will give you store credit if you bring in used clothes.
Since we’re suggesting you donate to these organizations we should point out than neither Goodwill nor the Salvation Army are perfect. Goodwill is involved in income inequality controversies and some stores pay disabled workers below minimum wage, and the Salvation Army, while it provides many services to the poor and homeless that benefit the LGBTQ community, also has been known to express homophobic views. Read the links provided for more information.
Goodwill and The Salvation Army are still great resources for people who want their clothing to be reused, to prevent waste, and to help those in need, but if you’re uncomfortable with their practices give a local thrift store a call to see if they’re accepting donations. You can use this search tool on Yelp to find thrift stores near you, or check your local chamber of commerce website. Many churches also accept clothing donations. This is a good opportunity to support local organizations and maybe even find a hidden gem in your area.
Donating and repurposing clothes not only helps people in need, it prevents tens of millions of pounds of waste from entering landfills. The clothing industry is the largest polluter in the world after oil, and a staggering amount of the clothing produced goes to trash. However thrifting isn’t a cure-all for the problem of clothing waste. Many donated clothing items end up in developing countries and damage the local textile industries, and even clothing recyclers are forced to send a portion of what they receive to the landfill. Approximately 25% of donations to The Salvation Army end up in the dump despite their recycling programs.
This doesn’t mean that thrifting isn’t great, just that the best way to avoid the damage caused by excess clothing is to not buy too much of it in the first place. This really works both ways, because if quarantine has taught us anything it’s that the more space we have in our homes, the less likely we are to go crazy on our relatives and loose our pets in piles of laundry.
By Ella McGrail
Class of 2021
June 16, 2020
Taking one step at a time, I feel the crunch of the pine cones beneath my feet in the Cibola National Forest. I am completely encased in the trees, and I understand the peace.
In solitude, I find comfort.
In isolation, I often wonder how I can connect to this earth. I am fortunate to live just thirty minutes away from a few different national forests. Here is how I center my hikes during this stressful time.
1. Paying Attention
I hiked the same trail as I did yesterday. Sometimes I think to myself, what can I see today that was invisible before? A new smell, a taste, a moment. Being aware of your surroundings without the stress of society allows a new type of wonder. How was this trail different last year?
It’s interesting to do research on the places that you walk. I looked up the path and discovered that it was called The Mystery Trail. It was given that unofficial name because no one knows where the path came from. This eight mile hike was discovered by the forest service one day. I’m thankful for that trail. What can you discover about your area?
2. Understanding Beauty
The forest has gone through some destruction, as is evident by the dead trees through parts of the trail. Yet, I still walked the paths. Exploring through the branches, I found a new meaning of beauty. A moment of pain in the forest is not a reason to give up; the trees need us to fight for them. This sacred space is a gift that we are able to explore, and we need to do our part to take care of it. What makes the earth beautiful?
3. Find the Silence
This is my hour. I have one moment where I can unplug from the stress of my daily surroundings. Take a moment to think about how the silence brings meaning to your life.
Remember, the forest is not closed.
By Shea Roccaforte
Class of 2021
Edited by Ella McGrail
Class of 2021
The Environment and COVID-19
As of Friday, April 17, worldwide, more than 2.1 million people have tested positive for COVID-19, and almost 150,000 have died from the virus. In the U.S. 22 million people are unemployed, there is a lack of testing available, and many do not have healthcare, and even if they do, they may lose it if they lose their jobs.
While the country and the world are in crisis, we are seeing many examples of politicians rolling back environmental regulations even though such regulations are more important than ever.
For example, at the end of March, President Trump lowered standards for auto pollution regulations, which were created during President Obama’s time in office and played a major role in reducing the emissions of the U.S. The administration claimed its goal in lowering emissions standards was to make cars less expensive.
Elaine L. Chao, the U.S. Secretary of Transportation made a statement saying, “By making newer, safer, and cleaner vehicles more accessible for American families, more lives will be saved and more jobs will be created...”
This rationale has been disputed and criticized by many environmental organizations and the Environmental Protection Advisory Board.
The New York Times writes that the rule, “would allow cars on American roads to emit nearly a billion tons more carbon dioxide over the lifetime of the vehicles than they would have under the Obama standards...”
On Thursday, April 16th the Trump administration relaxed regulations on mercury and other toxic pollutants for oil and coal-fired power plants, despite the fact that mercury has been shown to cause brain damage.
A statement in the New York Times by Andrew R. Wheeler of the E.P.A. said, “Under this action, no more mercury will be emitted into the air than before.”
However environmental and public health leaders as well a huge number of power industry leaders decry the action as dangerous.
The article in the New York times goes on to say, “Patrick Parenteau, a professor at the Vermont Law School, noted that in virtually every environmental rollback, Mr. Trump’s E.P.A. has acknowledged in the fine print that enormous increases in health problems and deaths will occur because of increased pollution.”
There is a direct correlation between air pollution and many health issues including but not limited to asthma, cancer, heart disease, and birth defects. These underlying health conditions also make people more susceptible to complications from coronavirus.
If you are interested in engaging with environmental activism form home, this is a good time to call your representatives and ask them to support measures that ensure environmental protection, such as Carbon Fee and Dividend and The Green New Deal. This is also a good time to phone bank for candidates that support the Green New Deal who you can find on the Sunrise Movement page.
The Green New Deal is an evolving congressional resolution to combat Climate Change and reduce societal and economic inequities in the U.S.
If you are a part of the Bard Community we encourage you to join our Eco Challenge. This will allow you to hand-tailor your own environmental action plan and log your daily environmental actions to help Bard gain points. The Eco Challenge is a global competition between schools to engage students in actions relating to combating Climate Change. Additionally you can follow us on Facebook at Bard Office of Sustainability to keep up to date on all our activities.
From all of us at the Bard Office of Sustainability, stay healthy and keep fighting the good fight.
By Rose Reiner
Class of 2023
And Ella McGrail
Class of 2021