Keeping clothing out of the landfill makes sense for local thrift stores

A local couple have teamed up with a Nelson businessman to help keep clothing out of the landfill.

Cutline: Driver Sean Keeley (left)

A local couple have teamed up with a Nelson businessman to help keep clothing out of the landfill.Sean Keeley, who operates Positive Apparel Thrift Store in Nelson, came up with an idea of saving clothing that often goes to the landfill from thrift stores when they cannot sell it.“We realized after we opened our thrift store in 2009 that there was an abundance of clothing that needed to go to the landfill,” he said. “Clothes that can’t sell, or needs repair, or is just at the end of its life. My wife and I decided to start stockpiling until we could find another source for it.”Keeley said in addition to filling up the landfill, taking the clothing out to the dump was costing him money for dump fees.“What we realized right away is that there is another way we can do it,” he said. “We could find a recycling centre. We could find a place to sell it in bulk as rags.”It only took about 20 weeks for Keeley and his wife to accumulate 10 tonnes, which it takes to fill a truck.Once we put the word out to other thrift stores that were in the same boat as us they jumped on it, he said.“At present, we’re doing 10 tonnes every two weeks,” said Keeley. “We’re about to double that.”Keeley collects all the extra clothing in his truck and gathers it at the Nelson location before taking it to the coast to be dispersed world-wide for either recycling material or to be reused in communities in the third world.Keeley collects cloth from thrift stores from throughout the West Kootenay from Rossland, Trail, Castlegar, Salmo, New Denver, Grand Forks and more. And with the help of a pair of Grand Forks natives, Alfred and Marilyn Paul, they are now recycling used clothing from Penticton.“When we first got involved, it’s because the (Grand Forks) Hospital Auxiliary Thrift Store had extra things they were taking to the landfill,” said Marilyn. “Willy Triveri researched both the project in Penticton, which uses really good material, and Sean’s (Keeley) store. When she discovered that there was an organization called Food for Children in Penticton, there was no way to get the really good clothes out of the store to there, so we volunteered to take it up.”The Pauls take up a load every two or three weeks to Penticton to Food for Children, which helps out in developing countries throughout the world with such things as hospital boxes, school kits, orphanage barrels, nurse kits, and more.“Now that they discovered Sean’s wonderful (project), we’d bring back a whole load from Penticton of unusable cloth,” said Marilyn. “They’ve started talking about the project and now stores up there are sending them unusable cloth. So now when we go up there and bring it back, we’re bringing back from other communities up there. So it’s spreading quickly now that it’s gotten going.”Also involved locally in the program is Blessing Boutique at the Gospel Chapel Church.“It’s just a happy thing that groups don’t have to spend money on that dump,” said Marilyn. “It’s not just the money, it’s the fact that why put stuff in the landfill that can be used?”

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