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Local nonprofits seek Garfield County help with new clothing recycling program

John Colson
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

Two area nonprofit organizations that work closely together to provide resources to the needy – LIFT-UP and Defiance Thrift Store – want to start a used clothing recycling program.

But in order to do that, Mike Powell of LIFT-UP said he is hoping that Garfield County will extend a special landfill rate to the Defiance organization, just as it has been doing for LIFT-UP.

In a letter to the Board of County Commissioners, dated July 27, Powell noted that LIFT-UP currently pays $1 for every truckload of unsellable items sent to the county landfill.



That compares to a typical fee of $5 per 140-pounds or so of stuff brought to the dump by county residents in general.

Powell asked that the special rate be granted to Defiance, which Powell’s letter described as “a … nonprofit organization whose sole mission is to provide financial support for Family Visitor [Programs] and LIFT-UP.”



Powell explained to the Post Independent that the three organizations share board members as well as community goals.

Recently, he said, it became apparent that thousands of pounds of used clothing, brought in to the thrift stores but never sold, were going into the county landfill every month.

Two years ago, Powell approached the Manaus Fund in Carbondale, which provides funding and support to certain nonprofit entrepreneurial efforts, about putting together a recycling program, according to Manaus executive director Morgan Jacober.

She said the fund’s commitment includes the purchase of a baling machine to bundle up the clothing and a fork-lift to load the bales onto a truck.

Both Jacober and Powell indicated that the details are still being worked out, including a contract with a Front Range broker to pick up the bales. The clothing ultimately could end up either on the racks at Front Range thrift stores or being sent overseas to impoverished countries or the sites of natural disasters.

But there is a complication, Powell added. Defiance has been selling used articles of all kinds, not just clothing, to a Front Range thrift-store chain known as ARC.

If Defiance gets on board with the local recycling effort, thereby cutting ARC off from the supply of clothing, Powell explained, it’s likely that the other items ARC had been taking would end up heading to the local landfill.

For that to be economically viable, Powell said, the cost of each load to the landfill needs to be as low as possible. He said current estimates indicate that the reduced flow of clothing would be greater than any increased flow of other items.

Once it is all set up, Powell’s letter to the commissioners concluded, “This program will prevent several thousand pounds of [LIFT-UP] clothing being taken to the landfill each month. Ultimately, the net effect of this request should be a reduction in the volume of refuse being taken to the landfill.”

The commissioners will be discussing the request at their regular meeting on Aug. 2, which begins at 8 a.m. in the commissioners meeting room, 108 Eighth St. in Glenwood Springs.

jcolson@postindependent.com


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