If you’ve ever wondered who’s behind the large green bins placed along certain intersections in Williamsburg and Greenpoint with the words, “Donate clothes and shoes here,” with three green arrows pointing upwards to the chute look no further than the eco-friendly organization, SpinGreen.
Created in 2013, the organization uses a multi-pronged approach to combat the excessive use of landfills, and to promote the complete utilization of used clothing.
Donated clothes, toys and shoes that are wearable and usable are donated to organizations like the American Red Cross, American Diabetes Association and Madison Square Boys and Girls Club.
Clothes that are torn, tattered, or stained are used for several commercial purposes most commonly household insulation and providing stuffing for toys. The items people throw away have surprising uses: stained t-shirts can be used as wiping cloths, old denims can be used as household insulation, discarded socks can be used to create pillow stuffing, and old toys like teddy bears can be used to create car-seat stuffing.
“The response from people so far has been amazing,” said Polina Groman, the CEO of SpinGreen. “People have no idea that they can reuse torn clothing and aren’t always aware of all the choices they have. At SpinGreen we want to be doing good by being good.”
Groman is passionate about integrating education with her drive for environmentalism. SpinGreen operates after-school programs teaching kids about sustainability, recycling, and the effects of global warming – the workshops have already served 508 students throughout the city.
Groman says she wants SpinGreen’s business model to be along the lines of Toms – the shoes brand that blends profit and non-profit in their model – when a customer buys a pair of shoes the organization donates one to an impoverished child.
In 2005, Groman along with her husband were running a fuel recycling business – collecting discarded cooking oil from restaurants and recycling it to be used for fuel. It’s where Groman got the idea for her clothing recycling business. She said she found it odd that there was always a place to recycle cans and plastic but there hadn’t been as strong an effort to recycle clothing.
Groman is hoping to change that trend. While SpinGreen operates its main offices out of Sheepshead Bay it currently has over 550 bins – most notably identified by its circular symbol of colorfully dressed people holding hands—located throughout the city and has managed to donate $100,000 worth of clothing and cash. Groman wants to see those numbers grow and to see the number of bins increase to 750 in the near future.
For more information on the organization visit http://spingreen.com
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