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Wasteland or Recycle-land

Originally posted September 25, 2017

With the weather changing soon, a small set of UMaine students were asked what they did with their unwanted clothing. Almost all said they donated them to one charity or another. During a Mitchell Lecture on sustainability, Dr. Dietz, a professor of Sociology and Environmental Science and Policy from Michigan State University said, “We are reluctant to discuss value difference.” The students surveyed, answered with what they thought the politically correct answer should be. 

But upon more discussion on the issue, a few admitted they through away soiled or torn clothing. When asked why, they said because they were not good enough to donate, not knowing that they could recycle these textiles, much like plastic, paper and other materials. 

As mentioned in “The waste of changing seasons,” blog post, one solution on the UMaine campus is the Black Bear Exchange where you can exchange your clothing for some new wares of pick up some needed food. 

UMaine also has recycle bins around campus called zero-sort, unfortunately one of the only things not excepted are textiles. The Director of Sustainability at University of Maine, Dan Dixon said that,  “The contractor [Casella] does not allow textiles,” but that he would be interested in looking into the process involved in recycling textiles. 

Dixon went on to say, that Bangor and Orono used to have “Big Yellow Bins,”  possibly from Planet Aid for recycling clothing, but has not seen them lately. This company has been under investigation and according to an NBC Washington article, “Petersen [company owner] is now on the run -- wanted by Interpol -- after the Danish government charged him with charities fraud and tax evasion.” Perhaps this is why the bins are now gone. 

The university also has an end of year sale, the, “Clean Sweep Sale,” in which all of the items left “donated” by students are sold with the, “Proceeds will be used to support programs and services offered through UMaine’s Bodwell Center for Service and Volunteerism, including the Black Bear Exchange, Welcome Weekend Day of Service, and the MLK Day of Service meal-packing event.”

It looks like overall Maine students and the university itself are doing their fair share of recycling and donating instead of contributing to the 81 pounds per year that most people in the United States throw away. 


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