Clothes The Loop With The North Face

By Pete Athans

Living on an island means we don’t have access to a lot of services and conveniences. We like that.

My 7-year-old daughter on a ferry boat ride to our Puget Sound island. Photo © Liesl Clark

My 7-year-old daughter on a ferry boat ride to our Puget Sound island. Photo © Liesl Clark

A 35-minute ferry ride delivers us into what feels like the bowels of Seattle, ejecting ferry-riders beneath a highway underpass, a continuous stream of cars, buses and trucks humming above. Just around the corner from the hum of the waterfront is one of The North Face’s first stores to open in the U.S.

Delivered by ferry to the Seattle waterfront. Photo © Liesl Clark

Delivered by ferry to the Seattle waterfront. Photo © Liesl Clark

I’ve worked for the company for nearly 25 years, and I still love walking into this special Seattle space. Beneath all the plaster you still have a sense of the original post and beam construction, probably used for shipping or as a warehouse years ago. Today, I’m even more proud to step into the store, with my family, carrying our used clothing that we aren’t able to sustainably throw away on our small island. In fact, most people have a tough time finding places to discard used clothing in this country. But we now have 10 new locations in some of North America’s largest cities, where you can drop off your used and worn-up clothes and shoes. You’ll get a $10 discount on your next purchase at The North Face store.

Denim has value. Don't throw it away! It can be used as insulation. Photo © Liesl Clark

Denim has value. Don’t throw it away! It can be used as insulation. Photo © Liesl Clark

The North Face has initiated this much-needed clothing and shoe recycling program, called “Clothes the Loop,” in a partnership with I:CO an international textile and shoe recycler that breaks materials down into 400 categories for carpet padding, stuffing for new toys, and fibers for new clothing. I:CO currently processes about 500 tons of used items every day in 74 countries. They have collection points all over Europe and in the USA. All proceeds from the Clothes the Loop program will benefit The Conservation Alliance, which protects wild places for their habitat and recreational value.

Drop your old apparel, any brand, into a "Clothes the Loop" bin at The North Face store.

Drop your old apparel, any brand, into a “Clothes the Loop” bin at The North Face store.

If your clothing can still be worn, first see if you can find a charity nearby that could use your togs. Better to have them re-worn then processing them in a shredder. My wife, Liesl, and I are developing, along with Rebecca Rockefeller, a mobile app called Trash Backwards that will give you reduce, reuse, and recycle options for any article of clothing or item in your home or office. If you type “clothing” into the app, you can find the nearest charity or recycler to you, or a cool tutorial on how to repurpose items like T-shirts into an ipod armband or a sweater back into reusable yarn. In the Adventure & Sport category, you can learn where to recycle your outdoor gear.

Click Through for Great Recycling Info for Your Outdoor Gear at Trash Backwards.

Click Through for Great Recycling Info for Your Outdoor Gear at Trash Backwards.

When my family travels to the Himalaya, we always bring a few extra duffels of clothing and shoes. We work with communities in Upper Mustang who are in dire need of good shoes.

Discarded handmade shoes in the village of Samdzong. Photo © Liesl Clark

Discarded handmade shoes in the village of Samdzong. Photo © Liesl Clark

Since children grow so fast, it isn’t hard to pass on our own children’s lightly worn fleece, outerwear, hiking boots, hats and gloves to kids in remote mountain communities. It’s the least we can do in a high mountain environment where people only have access to poorly made Chinese apparel.

A child in Samdzong getting medical care from our expedition doctor. Photo © Liesl Clark

A child in Samdzong getting medical care from our expedition doctor. Photo © Liesl Clark

If you have sturdy shoes to give to the cause, for adults or children, shoes with treads that will stand the test of mountain terrain, send them our way and we’ll get them onto the feet of the good people of Mustang. We can pick them up if you’re in the Bainbridge Island or Seattle area, or you can mail them to us at:

Trash Forwards, 6027 NE Baker Hill Road, Bainbridge Island, WA 98110.

My children on their way to Upper Mustang, Nepal. Photo © Liesl Clark

My children on their way to Upper Mustang, Nepal. Photo © Liesl Clark

Word has it that Americans throw out 70 lbs of clothing per year. We can reduce that statistic, if we’re more mindful of our textile waste. We know the textile industry adds tremendous environmental stress on our planet. But by donating our reusable clothing and then recycling what’s un-wearable, we can reduce the demand for virgin materials in new clothing and conserve the energy that goes into making fibers for fabrics.

Recycling your worn out textiles and shoes at The North Face is fun. Photo © Liesl Clark

Recycling your worn out textiles and shoes at The North Face is fun. Photo © Liesl Clark

For us islanders, this new drop box at The North Face will be a welcome destination for fabrics and apparel we’ve been stockpiling in our homes in hopes that a recycler would appear in our midst. Goodwill takes resell-able clothing, but your jeans that have holes in the knees and gloves that are nearly shredded from outdoor use are welcome at the Clothes the Loop bin.

My favorite TNF gloves, now safely in the bin. Photo © Liesl Clark

My favorite TNF gloves, now safely in the bin. Photo © Liesl Clark

Hope to see you there, recycling your hole-y socks and dented hats.

IMG_3361 Photo © Liesl Clark

Tags: , , , , , ,

Categories: Recycle, Trash Philanthropy, Trash Pile - All Our Stuff

Connect:

Subscribe to our RSS feed and social profiles to receive updates.

12 Comments on “Clothes The Loop With The North Face”

  1. March 5, 2013 at 11:11 am #

    Thanks for this great tip, Pete! I have been buying North Face clothing at REI and Nordstrom, but now have located the actual North Face Store in Denver. It moved from Colorado Blvd. to Cherry Creek. Now I know where to recycle clothing that can’t be re-worn. Another burden of green guilt removed from my heart! When my husband questions why I buy North Face clothing, I tell him that these articles are very durable and functional, and we will be wearing them for a long time (plus he looks great in his jacket).

    • Peter
      March 11, 2013 at 2:19 pm #

      Many kind thanks for thinking of The North Face and TrashBackwards, Christine!
      Hoping to be rolling out other sustainable initiatives and incentives in the near future in Denver and globally. Stay tuned!

    • Deb
      April 15, 2013 at 8:39 am #

      Awesome- my inlaws live in cherry creek, so excited to have a north face store close by when I visit, AND, I can tell them about a close-by solution to recycling old clothes! Love it!

  2. NG
    March 5, 2013 at 1:14 pm #

    Thanks for the info. Do the North Face boxes also take denim scraps, such as those created when you make a pair of cutoffs?

  3. Deb
    March 6, 2013 at 9:11 am #

    Hey Liesl, do you think we could get Clothes The Loop on board for the rotary? We get a ton of clothes that are not in sufficiently good condition through resale to Goodwill- what a great way to deal with these clothes!

  4. March 6, 2013 at 6:38 pm #

    We hear here on the east coast how much further your area is in recycling and reducing resource use, this is only one more way I wish the east coast would catch up. I’m saving your information and will mail you shoes when/if I come across some needing a new owner.

  5. Peter Olander
    April 7, 2013 at 6:55 pm #

    emailed the boss tonight about the socks. She’s a cool person. If there’s a way, she will.
    Pete O.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Action 31. Mend my clothes. | 350 Climate Change Actions - March 9, 2013

    [...] you to drop off your worn-out clothes at their stores for recycling; read more about this program here from our awesome friends’ blog Trash [...]

  2. Action 41. Keep textiles out of the landfill, thanks to The North Face! | 350 Climate Change Actions - March 25, 2013

    [...] thanks to my wonderful friends at Trash Backwards for letting me know about this [...]

  3. Garden Glove Love | Trash Backwards - April 6, 2013

    [...] donating to the Alex Lowe Charitable Foundation so we can get our duffel bags of gloves (we donate shoes and books too) over to Nepal and remove toxic waste from the highest watersheds in the world while [...]

  4. Trash Philanthropy | Trash Backwards - April 15, 2013

    [...] end up discarded outside of the villages, adding to the piles of rubbish. This initiative is called Trash Forwards and we’re receiving shoes from The North [...]

  5. Patio Umbrella Trellis | Trash Backwards - April 30, 2013

    [...] sun-drenched as it is, take it to your nearest The North Face store for recycling through their Clothes the Loop program. They’ll take all of your textiles and shoes for reuse and recycling. Don’t [...]

What can you add? Please share your ideas.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,431 other followers

%d bloggers like this: