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Textile Reuse & Recycling: An Unsung Hero Worth Celebrating

Did you know that March 18 is celebrated annually as Global Recycling Day? Started just a few years ago by the Global Recycling Foundation, Global Recycling Day is designed to promote the role recycling plays in preserving the earth’s primary resources – water, air, coal, oil, natural gas and minerals. This year’s theme is “Recycling Heroes” – a salute to unsung recycling heroes across the globe including people, groups, organizations and businesses who champion recycling practices and habits.

For SMART, increasing awareness of textile reuse and recycling is paramount. Why? Because it has a dramatic global impact! Currently, clothing and household textiles make up 6.3% of the waste stream, or the equivalent of 81 pounds per person thrown away annually in the United States. Yet, nearly 95 percent of used clothing and textiles can be reused and recycled as long as they are clean, dry and odor-free. Processes by which reduce the need to create more landfill space, greenhouse gas emissions and saves the environment from tons of harsh chemicals, waste products and wastewater used in the manufacturing of new textiles.

This year, SMART is celebrating the work of our for-profit member companies who work in the textile reuse and recycling industry! Did you know that collectively, our members divert nearly 1 billion pounds of textiles annually?

Here’s some information about just a couple of our 150+ member companies and their impact:

  • Green Zone Recycling, founded more than ten years ago operates clothing donation and collection bins in North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia. Through partnerships with churches, property management companies, nonprofits and thrift stores, they’ve diverted more than 34 million pounds of textiles from landfills in the past three years alone. Learn more about them and their work at
  • J and K Textiles specialize in grading used clothing from the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom. With a skilled staff of nearly 500 employees, the company exports quality used clothing to countries like Africa. Meanwhile, clothing not fit for secondhand wear is transformed into wiping rags that’s used for cleaning purposes in automotive garages, restaurants and more. Their environmental impact? Diverting more than 5 million pounds of used clothing from landfills each and every month! Interested to learn more about their work? Check out their website,!

As you can see, at SMART we’re all about improving our environment – one textile at a time. If you’re looking for additional information on textile reuse and recycling, we also encourage to you connect with us on Facebook and Twitter for regular updates and information!