USAgain pleased with business after one year

Since February 2013, Marshalltonians have had the option of dropping off unwanted clothing and shoes in numerous USAgain drop boxes, versus taking them to Goodwill Industries, Salvation Army and Second Chance on Third Avenue.

Which begs the question: Is USAgain, a for profit, Chicago based company cutting into the inventory of the three not for profits, who operate thrift stores and direct proceeds from donated items to a variety of charitable purposes?

No was the answer from one.

“The impact of USAgain on Second Chance is nominal,” said Roger Hatch. “There is a USAgain drop box across the street at Rainbow Car Wash. It is possible people put items in that we don’t want. For example, if we are flush with summer clothes, we won’t accept any for a period.”

Hatch said Second Chance uses proceeds from sales of donated clothing, shoes and other items to fund two orphanages, one in Sierra Leone, Africa, and the other in the Central African Republic.

“We recently closed the books on 2013 operations at the store – it was the best year since we opened,” Hatch said.

You drop it. We ship it. Let’s use it again.

That is the slogan on USAgain’s large bright green and white bins.

“The company’s mission is to keep unwanted clothing and shoes out of landfills,” said Scott Burnham of Serafin & Associates, Inc., of Chicago, a public relations firm. “We are providing Marshalltown residents with a convenient option for re-purposing their old clothing and shoes. The collection figures demonstrate that our recycling containers have been well received by the residents.”

The company, in its marketing material, also said it supports local and global economies with the discarded items.

“By exporting textiles to struggling countries, we generate revenue, create green jobs in the U.S. and abroad … .”

In approximately one year, Marshalltonians have deposited 60,590 items in USAgain’s drop boxes, according to Burnham.

USAgain has 13 drop boxes located throughout town, with 12 at businesses on high traffic streets. Our Saviour Lutheran Church, 3001 S. Sixth St., is the exception.

Rainbow Car Wash leads with four bins – one each at its four locations.

The Lost & Finned pet and pet supply store, 802 S. Third Ave., led all locations with 12,220 items donated.

USAgain’s website claims it has saved a total of 568,688,26 items from going into landfills, with 2,954,225 cubic yards of landfill space saved.

“The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that 85 percent of all unwanted clothing in America – or 11.2 million tons each year – gets thrown in the trash,” said Burnham.

The company was founded in 1999, and operates more than 10,000 bins in 17 states, with 11 divisional offices with more than 220 employees.

USAgain also claims that it partners with “hundreds of non-profits – like schools, churches and park districts – that host clothing recycling containers, that receive revenue from the clothing that is collected.”

Burnham said all of the company’s bins and marketing materials read that USAgain is a for profit company.

“We believe that consumers can make informed choices that do not involve the landfill,” he said. “We support any efforts that divert textiles from ending up in landfills – whether that means people put their clothes into a USAgain container or donate items to their church or charity, such as the Salvation Army or Goodwill.”

For more information, visit usagain.com

Contact Mike Donahey at 641-753-6611 or mdonahey@timesrepublican.com