With ThredUp, recycle kids' clothes by leaving them on the porch
A new service launching Wednesday through the online swapping site ThredUp makes recycling kids' clothes as easy as leaving them on your doorstep. Through ThredUp's new concierge program, customers go online to request a free, prepaid, ready-to-ship recycling bag, which they fill with outgrown clothing and leave outside for pick-up by UPS or the U.S. Postal Service.
A form of consignment, clothes that are sent through the ThredUp concierge are inspected, sorted and recycled for resale through ThredUP's secondhand marketplace online. While the amounts paid to the sender vary by item type, brand, size and season, ThredUp Chief Executive James Reinhart says senders can earn as much as $5 per item. Payments are processed through PayPal.
Only kids clothes and shoes are accepted, and the items cannot be stained, ripped, faded or pilled. Anything that can't be resold is donated to Goodwill rather than returned. Even the plastic bags used for shipping are recycled, Reinhart said. Each bag can hold about 30 pounds.
A six-week pilot of the concierge service with ThredU users recycled almost 40,000 items, two-thirds of which were in good enough condition to resell. With its public launch, ThredUp anticipates recycling more than 10,000 clothing items per day.
ThredUp launched in April 2010 as a site for moms to swap children's things with other moms. It now has more than 250,000 members who have exchanged 2 million items.
"We've had a lot of success with our peer-to-peer business, but we kept hearing from lots of folks who love the idea of being able to recycle and get new stuff, but they wanted an easier way to do it where we did more of the work," Reinhart said.
Throughout the U.S., almost 13 million tons of textile waste are generated annually, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Of that, just 15% is recovered for reuse or recycling.
-- Susan Carpenter
Photo: Mother Meg Reinhart and daughter Evelyn with the ThredUp concierge bag. Credit: ThredUp.com