The number is staggering: 520 million pounds of textile-based products in Massachusetts alone end up in the garbage, headed into what Bay State Textiles calls the “waste stream.”
Located in Pembroke, Bay State Textiles collects and coordinates the recycling of cast-off items ranging from unwanted clothing to linens, and even stuffed animals. The firm has a committed partner in Lynnfield with a commitment by the town’s schools to collect textile items in bins placed in front of schools.
Recycling is a major industry and Bay State has collected more than 38,000 pounds of textiles with the help of town schools since last April. It’s hard not to pause and contemplate the interest and commitment on the part of a small town like Lynnfield to contribute 19 tons of castoff items for recycling in a nine-month time frame.
But Lynnfield’s and Bay State’s success story does not end with the town’s participation in the recycling program. The public-private partnership has spun off benefits for Lynnfield’s schools with Bay State providing town parent teacher organizations (PTO) with more than $2,000 in rebate checks from recycling proceeds.
Public officials across the country have known for years that reducing the amount of trash they contract to collect in their communities by increasing recycling efforts can save money on collection costs and provide relief for municipal budgets.
Lynnfield and Bay State are not simply producing savings. They are generating money for a public education sector that has traditionally relied on bake sales and other fundraising activities to raise money.
PTOs and parent teacher associations are important because they bring two of the most important people in the education process — parents and teachers — together to improve the well-being of the most important person in a school: The student.
PTOs are often the jump-off point for people who want to get involved in public life and do so by finding out different ways they can work with other people to collectively help kids. The fact that Lynnfield has forged an environmentally-conscious partnership to benefit PTOs is a tribute to town residents, school administrators and Bay State Textiles’ innovative approach to recycling.
There is no way to hide 19 tons of anything and the enduring collaborative between the schools and Bay State has assuredly provided a hands-on lesson in environmental science to Lynnfield students. Everyone has a pile, even a closet-full of old clothes, toys and other textile-based items ready to help serve a good cause.
Compared to the town’s school budget and education expenses, $2,000 doesn’t sound like a lot of money. But PTOs and PTAs are experts at stretching dollars to help pay for school-related activities ranging from dances to lectures and it is always a challenge for people committed to helping out kids and the schools they attend. Fortunately, in Lynnfield, they can count on Bay State Textiles as an ally.