An example of what a collection bin looks like. Photo from Wikimedia.

Fabric is a widely used product in America, covering both our bodies and homes in the shape of clothes, curtains, towels and more. Yet textiles make up about 5% of Massachusetts waste according to research conducted in 2010 and 2011 by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection.

In the hopes to reduce the waste, Bay State Textiles launched a partnership with 70 public schools in Massachusetts to collect textiles in bins and in return donate an amount  back to the schools for their efforts. The School Box Program not only spreads awareness of textile waste but also is “generating much-needed revenue for the school communities” at no cost, according to the Bay State Textiles website. Malden Public Schools have thus benefitted from the partnership as Forestdale, Beebe, and the Early Learning Center each received a little over $5,000 to improve their schools.

Donald Concannon, principal of Forestdale School, was able to use the money to fund a trip—the “third grade students visited the Plymouth Plantation—these funds paid for the transportation” which immensely supports the students’ learning and motivation for learning by “[enhancing] the social emotional growth of our students.”

There is an available list of various textiles that can be placed in boxes outside of each school. Eventually most of the textiles get recycled and can help schools. List from Bay State Textiles.

The collaboration between Bay State Textiles and Malden Public Schools also supports a new initiative at the Forestdale- the PRIDE Student of the Month Initiative. This supports students and urges them to have “positivity, respect, independence, determination and excellence.” Part of the money is planned to be used to fund gifts that the students earn when they receive the prize such as bumper stickers, wristbands, and special card stock for student shout outs.

Among the other things, Forestdale’s Parent Teacher Organization is looking forward to hosting family events at the schools such as movie nights, and family fun nights, but also student oriented events such as ice cream socials, school dances, and field days. They are also looking forward to bringing in guest speakers and entertainers such as Johnny the K, and a special PTO scholarship for former Forestdale students who are graduating from Malden High.

Former Forestdale studentand and current junior at MHS, Shawna MacDonald, recalls that among Channel Surfing, and student council, she really enjoyed field days and “anything social really.” With the donation from Bay State Textiles, MacDonald is really looking forward to the school finding “more ways of learning for the kids” by providing more supplies, support, and encouragement.

Bay State Textiles gives the PTO 5 cents for every pound of textiles produced from the boxes. Last year when recycling coordinator at Bay State Textiles, Kathryn Larsen, spoke with the Malden Observer, she explained the process: clothes and other textiles get dropped off in bins all over Malden, then they collect it, bale it, and ship it. In the end, roughly 45% gets reused, 50% gets recycled, and only 5% is actually trash. “There’s a healthy demand globally for used clothing,” said Larsen.

There are boxes stationed in front of every Malden school and are available 24/7 year-round. For a more detailed list of acceptable items for reuse click here.

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