We all have them -- that one shirt in the back of the closet that we can't imagine getting rid of, yet keep around because we can't bear to just throw it in the garbage. Then, on the other hand, most of the time, old reliable just isn't wearable anymore. Be it stains, holes, rips or just being a little out of style, your old T-shirt needs a new home where it can be loved and appreciated -- and one city in Toronto has started a project to give it one.
Earlier this year, the Toronto suburb of Markham introduced its groundbreaking Markham Tackles Textiles program encouraging its residents and residents of nearby suburbs to donate their old unwanted clothing. The program is exceptional because unlike most thrift and second-hand stores, they are accepting old clothing that isn't quite perfect condition wise. Donations of the typically not accepted items like baby bibs, sleeping bags, underpants and even oven mitts. Markham Tackles Textiles is breathing new life into these typically-trashed items. Contrary to common belief, textiles are not only used for clothing, and these items are being re-purposed in a multitude of interesting ways, including automotive rags, carpet padding, diapers and landscaping fabrics.
The city has set up multiple donation centers around the suburbs, and residents are encouraged to donate any unwanted textiles they happen to have lying around their house. Volunteers sort through the donations. Those items in usable and sanitary condition are donated to local homeless shelters and other aid centers. Those which are not are shipped off to be used for industrial purposes. Only when there is no more industrial need for fabric and textiles will they begin to use their last resort, a landfill outside the bounds of the city.
Markham Tackles Textiles isn't the city's only green initiative. It already has one of Canada and the world's largest fleet of solar panels, and representatives from the city's council state that they are steadily working towards a shift to 100% renewable energy. The city also has regular subsidized farmers markets and over 125 miles of bike paths. As a result, Markham also has a much lower rate of obesity than other Canadian cities. Now, it's working towards another goal -- 100 percent recycling of unwanted textiles. And they're well on their way.