By Grace Austin

The Secondary Materials and Recycled Textiles Association (SMART) is developing grade-appropriate educational materials in conjunction with the Education Center to promote the concept of clothing as a recyclable product. The initiative will be promoted through the outlets of The Education Center to more than 750,000 educators, 15 million students, and 20 million parents. It will run through March.

“We are extremely excited to partner with The Education Center,” says SMART President Lou Buty. “Their team has a proven track record of developing creative and highly effective materials which teachers enjoy bringing into the classroom. We look forward to developing an impactful message which not only promotes but also encourages people to recycle clothing and textiles.”

SMART is a nonprofit trade association, founded in 1932, that uses converted recycled and secondary materials from used clothing, commercial laundries, non-woven, off-spec material, new mill ends, and paper from around the world. The Education Center was founded in 1973 by Marge and Jake Michel who, like many other educators, were frustrated by the lack of practical, ready-to-use materials for the classroom. They began creating several products, which expanded into The Mailbox magazine and many teacher-geared resources.

The materials will educate students and families about textile recycling and will also involve schools and communities in the effort. The goal is to introduce the concept of clothing and textile recycling to students through key classroom components that help the educator teach core subjects and skills. The program will also include a send-home component students can use to share with their parents what they have learned. The component educates them about textile recycling, while also demonstrating how their families can play a part in the mission.

“By using these materials, the students will learn that clothing is a recyclable product, just like aluminum cans, paper, and plastic products,” says Jackie King, executive director of SMART. “People don’t realize that 95 percent of all clothing and textiles can be recycled or processed by our member companies.”