By Dina Samfield
SHIRLEY — Every year in Massachusetts, residents and businesses throw away about 230,000 tons of usable textiles, including clothing, footwear, belts, hats, handbags, throw rugs, drapes, towels, sheets and other linens.
This data, cited by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, is included in its campaign to reverse the trend of filling our landfills with such materials, 95 percent of which can be reused as clothing, converted to wiping cloths, or recycled into new fiber-based products.
You can help reduce such waste by bringing your used textiles to this year’s Recycling Your Reusables event at the Ayer Shirley Regional Middle School on Saturday, Oct. 25, between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. The school is located at 1 Hospital Road in Shirley.
According to Ayer Recycling Committee Chairwoman Laurie Sabol, your textiles may be brought in any condition, so long as they are not wet or moldy.
“This includes wearable and unwearable textiles,” she said. “That means clothing, linens, stuffed animals, backpacks, area rugs, curtains, bedding (not mattresses), sheets, pillowcases, blankets, comforters, hats and scarves. These things don’t have to be wearable, just clean and dry.”
Whether or not your textiles are stained, ripped, or missing buttons, sleeves, or zippers, they may still be recycled or sold to overseas markets for repair and reuse.
“We are also having a competition this year between all of the Ayer Shirley schools,” said Sabol. The school with the largest textile collection will be awarded the money that the Ayer Recycling Committee receives for them from Bay State Textiles.
New at this year’s event will be the acceptance of all kinds of automotive tires, used Brita filters, bubble wrap and packing peanuts, and Burt’s Bees containers.
Also being accepted are “all kinds of plastic bags,” except for cellophane or “bags that crinkle.” The bags will be sent to Trex, a company that processes the bags into composite decking.
The types of bags you may bring include grocery bags, bread bags, case overwrap, dry-cleaning bags, newspaper sleeves, ice bags, wood pellet bags, Ziplock and other re-sealable bags, produce bags, bubble wrap, salt bags and cereal bags. All materials must be clean, dry and free of food residue.
Liberty Tire Recycling, a nationwide enterprise that collects and recycles about a third of the nation’s scrap tires, is accepting the tires, which are recycled into crumb rubber for many types of mats, rubberized asphalt, rubber mulch, tire-derived fuel, tire-derived aggregate for civil engineering products and many other uses.
According to their website, Liberty’s tire recycling saves more than 140 million tires from the waste stream annually.
Now in its sixth year, Recycling Your Reusables has become a successful site not only for collecting recyclables and reusables, but also for the collection of donations of nonperishable foods, cash, or checks for Loaves & Fishes Food Pantry in Devens, which serves several area communities. Last year’s event netted $1,800 worth of food and monetary donations from citizens from 21 different towns.
The items currently most needed by the food pantry are breakfast cereal, hearty soups, pasta, beans, boxed rice and rice meals, “helpers” and sides, canned pasta and chili, tomato paste and whole canned tomatoes, canned vegetables, peanut butter, jelly, cake and muffin mixes, cookie mixes, toothpaste and toothbrushes, shampoo and conditioner, shaving products, deodorant and soap.
Recycling Your Reusables is still seeking volunteers to help unload vehicles, direct traffic and accept and sort Loaves & Fishes donations. High-school students may earn community service credits for their efforts.
The recycling event, to be held rain or shine, is sponsored by James Normington of Edward Jones, Westford; Lexvest; the Ayer, Groton, and Shirley Recycling Committees; and, the towns of Littleton and Townsend.
For a complete list of the many vendors and items you may bring to be recycled or reused, visit recycleyourreusables.wordpress.com. New items that can be brought are still being added to the list, so check the website often. For information or to volunteer, write to Ayerrecycles@gmail.com or call 978-496-5839.