Results Continue to be Positive for SMART Association’s Elementary Education Program

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2013-2014 School Program Sets the Stage for Used Clothing Recycling Programs in Schools

Jackie King, Executive Director, SMART

SMART is planting the seeds early by engaging elementary school teachers and students with activities that teach the benefits of recycling used clothing.

For the second consecutive school year, the Secondary Materials and Recycled Textiles Association (SMART) provided no-cost lesson plans to the nation’s elementary school teachers to introduce the concept of clothing recycling in their classrooms. This year’s effort also included the “Recycling Rangers” program to encourage schools to identify “ambassadors” that would encourage recycling education efforts and projects and create used clothing collection drives. As the international trade association of the for-profit used clothing recycling industry, SMART’s goal is to educate the public about the benefits of recycling all used clothing and household textiles.

“We understand that changing the attitudes and actions of the public requires patience and persistence; you have to plant the seeds early and work diligently toward your goal,” says Jackie King, Executive Director of SMART. “So, SMART is planting the seeds early by engaging elementary school teachers and their students with lesson plans and activities that also teach the benefits of recycling used clothing.”

King says SMART knows it has to fight the perception that when getting rid of used clothing the only options are donating the items to a charitable organization or throwing them away. With that goal, SMART engaged The Education Center, LLC to develop lesson plans, take-home worksheets, and activities designed to teach kindergarten through fifth-grade students the benefits of clothing recycling while also meeting standardized educational practices.

In addition to classroom lesson plans, SMART’s 2013-2014 educational effort included the “Recycling Rangers” program. This element of the project called for teachers to become recycling ambassadors for their schools. To support the program, SMART member-companies in the U.S. sponsored regions where their businesses are located. At the end of the school year, the sponsoring companies will be given the contact information of the schools with ambassadors so they can develop future recycling projects.

The results of the 2013-2014 “Recycling Rangers” program were even greater than the first year with 1,565 teachers registering for the program and a total of 1,485 schools now having a “Recycling Ranger” ambassador. The total number of students reached by the program’s lesson plans and take-home activities in 2013-2014 jumped to 556,875. During the 2012-2013 school year, SMART’s “Wear It? Recycle It!” program more than 323,400 students were reached through classroom lessons and a poster contest. The two-year total of 899,975 students reached by these efforts puts SMART well within reach of its goal to engage more than one million students within the first three years of its elementary student educational project.

“We are extremely encouraged by the results we have achieved in our first two years,” says King. “As our educational program continues, we will look for additional opportunities to have the schools, and especially the students, recycle used clothing.”

According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s most recent report on municipal solid waste, 20.44 billion pounds of clothing and footwear was discarded in 2012. An additional 2.58 billion pounds of towels, sheets and pillowcases were also thrown away. The 2012 EPA report indicates only 14.4% of clothing and footwear products were recovered (recycled) and only 17.8% of towels, sheets and pillowcases were recovered.1 Of the clothing, footwear, towels, sheets, and pillowcases that were thrown away, SMART estimates 95% of those items could have been reused or recycled.2

For additional information on SMART, contact Paul Bailey at the Fallston Group at 410-420-2001 or by email at paul.bailey(at)fallstongroup(dot)com.

1. Municipal Solid Waste Generation, Recycling, and Disposal in the United States: Tables and Figures for 2012. Tables 15 and 16,

2. Secondary Materials and recycled Textiles Association Media Kit:

Secondary Materials and Recycled Textiles (SMART) is an international nonprofit trade association that strengthens the economic opportunities of its diverse membership by promoting the interdependence of our industry segments and providing a common forum for networking, education and trade. Since 1932, SMART has been at the forefront of recycling. SMART members use and convert recycled and secondary materials from used clothing, commercial laundries and non-woven, off spec material, new mill ends and paper from around the world. SMART member companies create thousands of jobs worldwide. SMART members prove each day that you can make money by being socially responsible.

For additional information on SMART, visit the association’s website at The following link will take you directly to informational videos on textile recycling


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Paul Bailey
Fallston Group, LLC
+1 (410) 952-3860
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