skip to main content
skip to newscasts

Friday, May 24, 2024

Public News Service Logo
facebook instagram linkedin reddit youtube twitter
view newscast page
play newscast audioPlay

FGCU launches free workshops to foster equity, retain workers; Supreme Court throws out race claim in SC redistricting case in win for GOP; as millions hit the roads, MI lawmakers consider extra driving fees; CT groups prepare for World Fish Migration Day.

view newscast page
play newscast audioPlay

U.S. Supreme Court allows South Carolina gerrymander that dilutes Black voters, Sen. Ted Cruz refuses to say if he'll accept 2024 election results, and Trump calls Mar-a-Lago search an attempt to have him assassinated.

view newscast page
play newscast audioPlay

Smokey Bear thought only "you" could prevent forest fires, but decomposing mushrooms may also help, a Native American community in Oregon is achieving healthcare sovereignty, and Colorado farmers hope fast-maturing, drought-tolerant seeds will better handle climate change.

Homeboy Expands into a New Industry – Recycling Clothes

play audio
Play

Monday, May 8, 2023   

By Caleigh Wells for KCRW.
Broadcast version by Suzanne Potter for California News Service reporting for the Solutions Journalism Network-Public News Service Collaboration


Chanalisa Sera navigates a forklift around hundreds of boxes of clothes in a Commerce warehouse. Some are tattered and worn out, others haven’t been used at all. Her job: to keep them from going to a landfill.

Sera works for Homeboy Threads, a new for-profit arm of the mission-driven organization that rehabilitates and trains formerly gang-affiliated and incarcerated people.

“I learned the forklift, I learned how to input weights and data entry into the computers,” Sera says of her job. “I learned how to sell things online, on e-com. I never, never in my life thought I would know how to do any of that stuff.”

Sera started as a trainee with Homeboy Industries a year and a half ago and became the first full-time employee at Homeboy Threads. Now she supervises the next cohort of trainees and teaches them what she’s learned.

The trucks bringing in loads of clothes for Sera to sort are filled with company inventory that didn’t sell, rolls of fabric that didn’t get used, or worn materials that customers returned to the store.

Homeboy can profit in a few ways: They can just sort the clothes for a company and hand them back; fix or sew new clothes and sell them; sell the raw materials to be recycled into a new medium, such as insulation. 

Homeboy Threads CEO Chris Zwicke explains it’s a labor-intensive process: “Sorting out all the different pieces: what's used, what could be resold, what needs to be repaired, or what's completely beyond salvage and needs to be recycled.”

Some of the clothes in the warehouse belong to the clothing company GUESS. It worked with Homeboy for more than a year in a pilot project before it publicly announced its launch last week. 

“Initially we started the pilot with store returns, damages, irregular product,” explains Director of Brand Partnerships Nicolai Marciano. “Since the launch of our pilot program in December 2021, Homeboy’s received over 200,000 pounds of garments to avoid ending up in landfill.”

Textiles are California’s fastest growing landfill waste. U.S. consumers toss about 81 pounds of clothes every year, and buy a new piece of clothing every five or six days. That’s about five times as much as we were buying 40 years ago. 

But Zwicke says he’s seeing more consumers and companies who want to know where their unsellable clothes are ending up. “Corporations are more sensitive to the idea now that there is no ‘away’ when you throw something away. It's actually going somewhere.”

Homeboy Threads is coming online just in time. California politicians introduced a bill this year called the Responsible Textile Recovery Act of 2023, which would require producers to figure out how to collect and recycle reusable clothes and textiles. That means there could be a spike in demand for authorized collectors to do all that sorting and repair for companies.

“It's a gap in the market that we've seen, and that we're filling kind of with our workforce development mission,” says Zwicke. “We're here to create jobs, and there's a lot of kind of manual work that goes into what we do.”



Caleigh Wells wrote this article for KCRW.


get more stories like this via email

more stories
The latest Living Planet Index report finds freshwater migratory fish saw an average 81% collapse in monitored population sizes between 1970 and 2020. This includes massive declines in Latin America, the Caribbean and Europe. (Adobe Stock)

Environment

play sound

Groups in Connecticut are preparing to celebrate World Fish Migration Day on Friday. The biennial event celebrates migratory fish species and their …


Social Issues

play sound

Fewer than 8% of people in Alabama prisons are granted parole when they apply for it. Criminal justice experts got together for a discussion of how …

Social Issues

play sound

A new report is sounding the alarm on Pennsylvania's juvenile-detention capacity challenges, citing understaffing and long wait times for the young …


During Latino Advocacy Week, Hispanic Access Foundation members met with lawmakers to promote equity in the upcoming Farm Bill. (Evelyn Ramirez/Hispanic Access Foundation)

Environment

play sound

It's Latino Advocacy Week in Washington, D.C., and leaders in the Hispanic community are pushing for improvements in the upcoming Farm Bill. The …

Environment

play sound

As Michiganders hit the road this holiday weekend, state lawmakers are brainstorming ways to help close the state's $3.9 billion road funding gap…

The Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy says a law change, which includes updating the state's public waters list, could provide protections for at least 640 miles of additional waterways across the state. (Adobe Stock)

Environment

play sound

What might seem like an under-the-radar administrative task could end up being a lifesaver for Minnesota waterways in need of safeguards against agric…

Social Issues

play sound

Two years ago today, a teenager killed 19 students and two teachers at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde. The families of those shot and killed have …

Social Issues

play sound

Amid nationwide labor shortages and high turnover, employment experts say fostering an equitable workplace is key to finding and retaining workers…

 

Phone: 303.448.9105 Toll Free: 888.891.9416 Fax: 208.247.1830 Your trusted member- and audience-supported news source since 1996 Copyright 2021