3 bags gone, plenty more to go: Textile recycling made easy in Manchester

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I had my two bags out on the front porch Friday night – just in case Helpsy came early. They ended up coming in the afternoon, so Jim managed to toss a third bag out there. Score! Photo/Carol Robidoux

MANCHESTER, NH – I’ve been oddly excited to try out the city’s new textile recycling service. Through a partnership with Helpsy, the process of recycling textiles is simple. The overarching goal is to reduce the amount of clothing that end up in landfills –  in 2021 alone, the company diverted nearly 30 million pounds of textiles from landfills through a combination of clothing drives, home pickups, thrift store partners and clothing receptacles.

I started by going to the city’s website, finding the Highway Department page where I found a section on “Textile Recycling,” and there, a link to the Helpsy scheduling page. I selected the next available date, which was in a few days, on a Saturday.

I had already started to bag some things up a few months ago, but decided to put it on hold until the textile recycling program was up and running.

As I said, I was oddly excited to try this out.

This would be my chance to test a service that should take half of the hassle out of moving unwanted clothes along. For me, getting items bagged up is easy. Getting them into my car and deciding where to take them is where I usually get stuck.

Part of the problem is that you could take them to any number of places – Savers, Salvation Army, Goodwill, or even a consignment shop if, unlike me, you buy quality clothing that’s timeless and made to last – and which has some resale value.  But if you’re like me, you tend to hang on too long to clothes that are not too fancy and that really don’t make any sense for you anymore, and when the time comes you just want them to go away.

For you, this service will be a game changer.

For those who might have reservations about the city partnering with a for-profit company to manage textile recycling, it may be your thinking that needs to shift. We often look at our castaway clothing as good enough to donate to “those less fortunate.” And while that’s noble, to be honest, there is just too much unwanted clothing flooding the used clothing market.

So even if you make it to Savers and drop off a few bags thinking the pants you’ve outgrown might bring joy to a person who’s down on their luck here in Manchester, it’s more likely that your stuff will be sold off to another textile service that will sell it off to a company or organization that sources it to a second-hand store someplace else in the U.S. – or even Africa, where 70 percent of global donations end up. That, or they’ll be turned into industrial rags.

The best thing you can do, before you recycle your clothing, is to think about what you’re buying in the first place, and why – and from where. If you haven’t considered thrifting, you might be surprised at what’s out there – including local consignment shops.

In the meantime, if you have too much going on in your closet, consider trying the city’s recycling service.


About this Author

Carol Robidoux

PublisherManchester Ink Link

Longtime NH journalist and publisher of ManchesterInkLink.com. Loves R&B, German beer, and the Queen City!