This week I was able to attend a volunteer shift at FabScrap and see their operations up close. Their Brooklyn Army Terminal warehouse has mountains of bags of fabric, zippers, buttons, and swatches.
Each volunteer received two bags and we were taught how to sort fabric as well as the company’s operations.
During pick-up, companies are instructed to separate their waste into two different colored bags.
Proprietary waste (textiles that are exclusive to brands) are placed in black bags to indicate that it cannot be resold. (Luckily, proprietary waste and small scraps can be shredded to create insulation!)
Brown bags contain all other pieces of fabric that will be sorted through and resold and reused.
Materials are sorted into more bags depending on their fiber compositions; polyester, cotton, wool, anything containing spandex, and mixed compositions, as well as a bag for paper.
At first I thought we would only find small quantities of paper like small tags, but I was very surprised to find that my bags mostly consisted of small cardboard swatch books. I found that the majority of the bags consisted of small fabric swatches, cardboard, and a few larger pieces of fabric that can be used for projects.
All volunteers are allowed to take up to 5lbs of material so I went to town and put aside some pieces I found while sorting. I was lucky to receive a bag that contained faux fur and wool pieces!
Before my shift I didn’t know fabrics containing spandex could not be recycled. I began thinking of all the stretchy clothes I’ve thrown out. After 3 hours of sorting and a bag full of fabric and cool buttons I felt more aware of what I was wearing, buying, and eventually disposing.
My Overall Thoughts of FabScrap
I think FabScrap has the right idea, instead of shaming people for their habits, they engage them in textile waste enlightenment while letting them get their hands on some cool fabrics.
To learn more about what FabScrap is all about click here!
And if you want to also be enlightened or simply want 5lbs of fabric click here!