Thu May 16, 2013
Several green-and-white dropboxes appeared about a month ago in Madison, offering area residents another avenue for disposing clothing, shoes and some other types of personal items that are no longer wanted and might eventually wind up in a landfill.
USAgain installed three of the oversized dropboxes in Madison to collect unwanted clothing, shoes, boots, hats, gloves, purses and belts for reuse or recycling. USAgain, pronounced `use again,' also accepts household linens including sheets, blankets, drapes and towels.
Jenean Sample, owner of Sample Our Flowers, said the dropbox located on the north side of her florist shop has been a quiet addition since it was installed about four weeks ago.
"It seems to be full right now," Sample said on Thursday (today). "We've never seen anyone stop to pick up the clothing, and it doesn't cost us anything to have it there."
In fact, Sample said USAgain offered a small amount of compensation to the business owners who allow the dropboxes on their property -- about 1 cent per pound for the clothing.
Brad Berg of USAgain said that the company will provide 2 cents per pound for clothing when the dropboxes are located at schools. USAgain also conducts some community projects, such as sponsoring Arbor Day tree plantings.
USAgain officials describe the company as an environmentally-friendly, for-profit operation founded in 1999 with its headquarters located in Chicago, Ill. They report collecting about 1 million pounds of clothing each week from more than 10,000 sites in 17 states. In 2011, company officials reported having collected 60 million pounds of discarded clothing.
Some of the clothing is distributed to secondhand clothing outlets such as thrift stores; some stays in the United States and some is sent overseas. Any non-reusable clothing is recycled into insulation or wiping rags or broken down into reclaimed fiber.
"There really is no requirement as to the quality of the items that we accept," Berg said.
The company requires that all items placed in the dropboxes should be enclosed in plastic bags.
According to USAgain officials, about 15 percent of the nation's textiles are reused or recycled, leaving about 13 million tons discarded in landfills each year.
The three USAgain dropbox sites in Madison are located at Sample Our Flowers at N.E. 2nd St. and Washington Ave., the Pitstop on S. Egan Ave., and US 34 Motel at 1515 N.W. 2nd St.