San Franciscans no longer have to throw old clothes in the garbage. Everything from dirty socks to never-worn impulse buys can now be tossed into any of 160 collection bins scattered around the city, thanks to a program recently announced by Mayor Ed Lee called the Zero Waste Textile Initiative. San Francisco is already known as one of the greenest cities in the country, but residents are tossing out an average of 39 million pounds of textiles every year. That startling number translates to more than than 4,500 pounds every hour, according to the number crunchers at SF Environment. Because the city already diverts plastics, aluminum, and compostables from landfills, unwanted textiles are the next logical step. The city will be working with international clothing recyclers from I:CO, who will sort through the castoffs and determine if they’re rewearable, reusable, or recyclable. Some textiles can be used to make insulation material, flooring, packaging or even Teddy bear-stuffing. Several retailers including Levi Strauss & Co., the North Face and American Eagle are also participating in the program, allowing residents to drop off unwanted clothes at their stores. Curbside clothing recycling seems like a no-brainer, especially for a city trying to reach Zero Waste by 2020. Fingers crossed that other cities catch on.
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