Monday, January 31, 2011

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Wearable Collection: Clothing Recycling

Building off of yesterday's post, I found the recycling service, Wearable Collection. They use their established network to distribute others discarded clothing around the world to people who need it, enabling them to raise money for charitable organizations. To quote them: "Rather than having your residents haul their clothing to a collection site, or worse, dump them in the trash, we would like to place a receptacle in your building for their recycling convenience. Our aim is to reduce clothing in landfills while helping raise funds for non-profits."

In addition to saving valuable, usable textiles and clothing from the landfill and making them accessible to those in need, the service emphasizes its logistical, back-end capacity. They help groups publicize the clothing recovery drive, pick up the clothing after it's been collected, and ensure that the clothing gets into the hands of people who need it—people as far away as Africa, Central America, and South America.

They've developed a service that provides the following:
We will provide you with a poly cart, 28.5” deep x 48” wide x 66.5” high, or a similar variation to suit your specific requirements. The cart should be placed in a location that is easily accessible to residents. (i.e., laundry room or basement storage area).

We will notify residents about the program and the location of the bin with flyers placed on the community board or sent to their e-mail addresses. You can download the flyers needed below.

While the amount of the clothing donated will vary from building to building, you can expect that we will pick up, one per week. We will schedule a weekly pick-up with you and adjust accordingly, as volume may fluctuate.

Our goal is to maximize clothing recycled while minimizing inconvenience to you. If you are interested in participating in our clothing recycling program we will find a way to work within your building's constraints.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Stuff and Culture 2.0

Jude reaching for the stars at Swap Meet 2007, Pittsburgh

For the past 14 years I've been holding an annual swap meet in my home for my female friends. It's a simple and familiar event -- I invite a pile of ladies to come to my house with items they no longer want. They throw their clothes, shoes, scarves, fur bikinis, what-have-you into the pile and then take turns pulling from the loot. Generally, there's 10-15 people and what amounts to about 15-20, 40 gallon bags of clothing and accessories. After all is said and done, everyone walks away with something and I load up the remaining 40% of clothes and haul it off to one of my local second-hand stores.

Since starting in 1998 I've been wondering what this could look like and what effect a swap like this could have if it was organized on a larger, public scale. Fourteen years ago there wasn't yet a term for it, but today I'm asking myself, what could happen if this home spun swap meet evolved into a 2-3 day long, public pop-up clothing exchange.

The days of mass consumption certainly aren't coming to an end. The more interesting observation is that we are now asking the question, "To what end?" It's easy to see that we've entered into a stage where consumers are not solely passive recipients of the current day offering but more and more often, co-creators and full participants in the experience of exchange (book mobiles, DIY events, flea markets, buy/sell exchanges). For many, the focus of shopping is not so much about the acquisition of stuff as it is an act of participation--be it in a community or a philosophy or type of socio-sporting event. Stuff is is still desired but what seems to be trumping the stuff is the process and mindset that gets us into arena where the scoring can happen.

Following will be a little sleuthing to see what others are doing and saying; how they're doing it; and what's been on their minds as they've gone on their way.