Neighborhood Industries Creating Wealth from Waste

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In this age of fast fashion, the E.P.A. estimates the average person throws away 70 pounds of clothes a year! (KFSN)

In this age of fast fashion, the E.P.A. estimates the average person throws away 70 pounds of clothes a year! But one Fresno business has found a way to turn that waste into wealth. We visited Neighborhood Thrift Store in Fresno's Tower District, where they have a different kind of rags to riches story.

They say one man's trash is another man's treasure. That's definitely the case at Neighborhood Thrift Store, where they've turned the recycling of old clothing into a profitable business. Bryan Feil with Neighborhood Industries, explains, "We get so much donated that a percentage of it is not good or good enough to be sold and so that's a million pounds a year saved from landfills. If we can be a part of that while creating jobs, it's kind of a win win all around."

The program employs 30 to 40 people, many who lack job training or need to learn new skills. Like David Garcia, who now manages the program: "I've grown a lot and they gave me the opportunity. I give them all my effort just to pay back for what they've given me."

Employees sort the donated clothes, then put it in a baler that compacts it down into half-ton cubes. From there the bales are sold to companies locally and across the country, who re-sell it or turn it into carpet pads, car door insulation, or rags used by mechanics. Garcia: "It's probably doubled just in like a year. I remember just picking up about 35,000 pounds a month and now it's up to almost 70,000 pounds a month."

They've since outgrown their current location behind the Neighborhood Thrift Store. They'll be relocating the recycling business to a much bigger warehouse this summer. The folks at Neighborhood Thrift say don't throw away your clothes, towels and blankets. They accept donations, no matter what condition it's in, it can be recycled.




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businessrecyclingthrift storeFresno - Tower District
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