HELPSY wants to make sure consumers realize that #ClothesArentTrash. Why? The New York-based, certified, for profit B-Corp says that over 85% of clothes wind up in the trash and that our relationship with clothing needs to change for environmental and waste management reasons.
To help with this problem, the company has 700 collection containers in NYC and nearly 2,000 across the Northeast Coast at commercial properties, businesses, apartment complexes and is starting residential pick-up.
Through their processing, they have found that 95% of what is collected is up-cycled or recycled. 75% is reusable and 20% is recyclable. After clothing is picked up, it is sorted and divided into grades. Higher grade items go to thrift stores in North America and second hand markets globally.
Last winter, they bought back almost 14,000 winter jackets from their sorters to be distributed at the New York Cares Coat Drive and collected 20 million pounds of clothing in 2017.
Rachel Kibbe, a graduate of Emory and Parsons’s Fashion Design program was frustrated with the industry after working in several different positions. She realized that there was little concern for the environment and labor practices so she started HELPSY in 2012. The brand’s first iteration was an online store for ethical fashion targeted toward millennials. The site launched one month before the Rana Plaza building collapse which confirmed that she was on to something.
For emerging designers, Kibbe suggests that they think about the end life and reverse supply chain at the beginning of the design process. She also believes in designing with intention and considering using second life clothing and textiles such as up-cycled garments and deadstock. Using less parts and more uniform material along with single fiber garments as they are the easiest to break down and recycle are other ways to bring sustainability into design. Incentivizing customers through take back programs so they don’t throw out clothing is also a tactic to implement.
For brands that are in NY, NJ, CT, MASS, NH, Kibbe encourages them to email HELPSY and they can try to schedule a pickup for samples, textiles, swatches, scraps, customers used clothing, even items that are ripped, with holes, etc….
Learn more at HELPSY.
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