This Canadian city has big plans for your old T-shirts.
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Savers

There's one in every closet.

It's torn at the hem and along the neckline. There are stains all over — some you remember, some you don't. It's been washed so many times that it's see-through, making it simultaneously the definition of comfort and completely unwearable in public — which is fine because it has shrunk in some places and stretched in others and hasn't really fit right in years.


Sometimes shabby-chic just isn't a really good look. Image via iStock.

It's your favorite T-shirt, and it really needs a new home. Markham, Ontario, wants to give it one.

This small-but-mighty suburb of Toronto has been recycling for a really long time.

They've recycled newspapers for nearly three decades, later expanding to aluminum cans, glass bottles, plastics, then electronics, then composting. There are places to drop off appliances, household waste, and old electronics. But until recently, there was nothing for textiles. That's a problem for nearby landfills.

Landfills: A great place for hungry birds — not a great place for your clothes. Image via iStock.

A 2015 survey of Ontario residents found that only 15% of unwanted textiles in the region were recycled.

For the Markham region specifically, that meant that about 4,425 tons of textile waste ended up at the garbage dumps every year, making up about 7% of their volume. City sanitation workers knew it was happening — they already operate a "clear bag" program for waste so everything on its way to a landfill is easy to see. And with fast fashion encouraging consumers to buy cheap, quick clothes with short lives, the mountain of textiles in the local landfill was only going to get bigger.

For the government of Markham, this felt like something they could fix — or even eliminate completely.

Their first step in taking on textile waste was talking to the people of Markham about it. What they found out was fascinating.

They discovered that residents were open to donating and recycling more of their textiles, but that they only wanted to pass on their nicest articles of clothing. Claudia Marsales, Markham's senior waste manager, described the city's findings to the CBC. "People only thought you could donate something that was perfect."

While that's very thoughtful, it misses the second life that many less-than-perfect textiles can have after being recycled. Less-fashionable or rewearable clothes, along with other unwanted textiles and fabrics, can be repurposed in many fascinating ways: making automotive rags, home insulation, carpet padding, diapers, landscaping fabrics, even "smart skin" for medical researchers. There are second lives for clothes, blankets, sleeping bags, furniture fabric, mattress padding, backpacks, rugs, cushions, curtains, and, — since it's Canada — winter outerwear and gear.

Earlier this year, the town introduced "Markham Tackles Textiles," a new program designed to make fabric recycling easier than ever before.

Now there are adorably designed textile donation bins located in convenient places around the city where people can drop off unwanted textiles. A local charitable organization sorts through the donations and preps them for their second life.

Pictured: your old clothes and bedding, en route to a brand-new life. Image via iStock.

The nicest and most fashionable clothing and bedding donations will head to local charity thrift shops for sale. Others will be bundled into 1,000-pound bales and sold to private companies for reuse in a variety of industrial purposes. Only when all other opportunities for reuse are exhausted are some products sent on to the landfill.

Getting serious about textile recycling is one more step toward sustainability for this Canadian city.

It's already Canada's first "monarch-friendly" city, devoted to protecting the habitat of the popular but endangered butterfly. It operates one of the largest solar-powered installations in the region. Markham is focused on local food and green transportation, managing a community seed library, regular farmers markets, and a 125-mile network of bike paths. Now it's committing to another incredibly ambitious goal: recycling 100% of unwanted textiles in the community.

For Claudia Marsales, this textile recycling program is also part of a campaign to educateMarkham residents about the social andenvironmental effects of disposablefashion and encourage them to think about the end-of-life for all fabric products they buy.

As for that unwanted old T-shirt you can't seem to let go of, this might be the perfect place. As Marsales told the York Region this month: “The message is we will take every piece you have.”

Courtesy of Tiffany Obi
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With the COVID-19 pandemic upending her community, Brooklyn-based singer Tiffany Obi turned to healing those who had lost loved ones the way she knew best — through music.

Obi quickly ran into one glaring issue as she began performing solo at memorials. Many of the venues where she performed didn't have the proper equipment for her to play a recorded song to accompany her singing. Often called on to perform the day before a service, Obi couldn't find any pianists to play with her on such short notice.

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She worked alongside four other Pursuit Fellows to build In Tune, an app that connects musicians in close proximity to foster opportunities for collaboration.

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I remember being baffled so many people were so convinced of Clinton's evil schemes that they genuinely saw the documented serial liar and cheat that she was running against as the lesser of two evils. I mean, sure, if you believe that a career politician had spent years being paid off by powerful people and was trafficking children to suck their blood in her free time, just about anything looks like a better alternative.

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It's been four years and Hillary Clinton has been found guilty of exactly none of the criminal activity she was being accused of. Trump spent every campaign rally leading chants of "Lock her up!" under the guise that she was going to go to jail after the election. He's been president for nearly four years now, and where is Clinton? Not in jail—she's comfy at home, occasionally trolling Trump on Twitter and doing podcasts.

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Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash
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With the election quickly approaching, the importance of voting and sending in your ballot on time is essential. But there is another way you can vote everyday - by being intentional with each dollar you spend. Support companies and products that uphold your values and help create a more sustainable world. An easy move is swapping out everyday items that are often thrown away after one use or improperly disposed of.

Package Free Shop has created products to help fight climate change one cotton swab at a time! Founded by Lauren Singer, otherwise known as, "the girl with the jar" (she initially went viral for fitting 8 years of all of the waste she's created in one mason jar). Package Free is an ecosystem of brands on a mission to make the world less trashy.

Here are eight of our favorite everyday swaps:

1. Friendsheep Dryer Balls - Replace traditional dryer sheets with these dryer balls that are made without chemicals and conserve energy. Not only do these also reduce dry time by 20% but they're so cute and come in an assortment of patterns!

Package Free Shop

2. Last Swab - Replacement for single use plastic cotton swabs. Nearly 25.5 billion single use swabs are produced and discarded every year in the U.S., but not this one. It lasts up to 1,000 uses as it's able to be cleaned with soap and water. It also comes in a biodegradable, corn based case so you can use it on the go!

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