By Ede Rothaus
On the very short block of Varick Street between Downing and West Houston Streets, a new resource has opened for eco-conscious West Villagers and the larger metro community. WeCycle, a 24/7 clothing dropoff site opened its doors—or in this case its two chutes, earlier this Spring, wedged into a tiny former storefront next to a pizza slice shop, this small outpost of a larger enterprise has big ambitions and its own vision of how to contribute to helping solve the global environmental crisis of clothing no longer wanted being either incinerated or dumped into landfill.
I spoke with Norman Cohen, a young entrepreneurial principal in WeCycle, a 25-year-old for-profit textile recycling company who manages the Varick Street site about how and why the Southwest Village was chosen for its first Manhattan location.
“We were looking for a small location that could be outfitted into a 24/7 ‘drop spot’ that had good visibility and foot traffic.
With Google opening a nearby campus and becoming a bit of a ‘tech hub’ with a sizeable young forward thinking population.
Our mission is a green one: to reuse, recycle and upcycle unwanted clothing keeping it out of the landfills.”
When asked how WeCycle earns its profit—we were told “cents on the dollar” for sale of what it collects and has a presence in Africa, Lithuania and Sri Lanka. This reporter would not be surprised if a very favorable lease was also a key factor in choosing the site.
It is estimated that while the petroleum industry is the world’s most polluting, the clothing industry comes in second with estimates as high as 10% of all greenhouse gasses emitted worldwide. in addition to an approximate 60 mllion tons or one fifth of all plastics produced annually around the world.
Facts relating to recycling garments:
- It will take hundreds of years for synthetics to decompose
- Only 15% of consumer used clothing is recycled
- Almost 100% of clothing and textiles is recyclable
- The United States itself generates more than 15 million tons of used textile waste each year.
In addition to its Manhattan Varick Street drop site, WeCycleNYC offers several ways for collection for the greater Tri-State area all at no charge.
WeCycle can provide collection boxes of various sizes for private homes, apartment houses, businesses, schools, community centers, property managers and religious institutions, and can help to organize, set up and pick up a clothing drive and arrange for scheduled pickups on a regular or one-time basis. They will even come to your small apartment to collect your individual donation regardless of size.
- Women and Men’s Clothing
- Children’s Clothing
- Sneakers, Shoes, Boots
- Accessories: Hats, Purses, Gloves, Belts, Scarves
- Linens and Bedding
- Curtains, Drapes
- Plush and soft toys
- Household items
- Pots, pans, silverware
- Carpets, rugs
- Plastics, rubber gloves
- No toys other than plush or soft
Donated items don’t have to be in good condition—they can be torn, worn, shredded, stained-everything must be clean. And to ensure that your items sliding down the shoot into a bin will stay clean, please bring everything in bags.
206 Varick Street, NYC 10014
Photo by Ede Rothaus.