by Rhonda Keyser

Twice each year, in the Spring and the Fall, P.S. 29 school in Brooklyn hosts a Rummage and Recycling Event for our community where we collect e­waste and textiles. People come from all over the city to recycle their electronics and their textiles responsibly with us at P.S. 29. We work with Wearable Collections for our textile collection and the Lower East Side Ecology Center for our e­waste.

We have about 20 parent volunteers during the day (10am-4pm) in two-­hour time slots to help collect and sort the textile donations. All day long, P.S. 29 families and neighbors drop off their matched shoes, belts, purses, bags, clothing, linens, towels and even stuffed animals and know that these items will all go to great use.

Throughout the day of the drive, many of our families also shop for items in our schoolyard at our Rummage Sale where we sell everything for $1 each. As a community filled with growing kids, we’re all grateful to have this event ­­ it’s a great way for families to pass on their clothes to others who can use them and to find “new” clothes others are ready to give away. The whole day is a fun way for folks in the community to connect by giving and getting some great clothes, shoes, sheets, towels and even Halloween costumes, sports uniforms, and ice skates!

All we have to do to set up the drive is arrange the date with The Lower East Side Ecology Center. They facilitate e­waste disposal events all over the city, so we like to book them early to get a great date. The Lower East Side Ecology Center staffs the e­waste collection, so we have no volunteer needs there. And they take it all away at the end of the event. They are a non­profit organization focused on community outreach around sustainability.

Wearable Collections has drivers out picking up from clothing and textile collections and green markets every day, so we let them know the date as soon as we know it and they’ve always been able to accommodate us. There’s no need for our volunteers to drive our collections anywhere, and no need to store the textiles in the school for any amount of time. On top of that, we receive a check within the next month for our school for 4 cents per pound for whatever textiles they pick up. And we usually collect around a ton ­­ yes 2,000 pounds ­­ of clothing!

To get the word out, we send out emails to our families, make some fun posters, and send out notices to the various area blogs. We like to keep our event open to all who want to participate to facilitate the most recycling possible. With every event we try to add other recycling possibilities like document and hard drive shredding, or compost education or recycling sorting games for the kids. We’ve recently set up a Mending and Repair table to encourage the culture of Repair Not Replace with parents teaching kids some simple repair skills with a needle and thread. We would love to host the Department of Sanitation’s SAFE Disposal Events in conjunction with this day to thoroughly educate everyone about the best ways to recycle these items that don’t go in our curbside trash and recycling bins.