The New Norwalk program has been recycling nearly 10,000 pounds of clothing and fabrics since April

NORWALK — In the nearly six months since a free textile recycling program was added to the city’s environmental efforts, more than 9,500 pounds of recycled materials have been collected.

The textile and clothing recycling program, Helpsy, began in Norwalk in late April, with the first collection date on Earth Day weekend, city spokeswoman Michelle Woods Matthews said.

The partnership with Helpsy was approved by the Municipal Council in February and began picking up goods on the sidewalk from residents in April.

Since the program began, 9,525 pounds of clothing has been collected from Norwalk residents, Woods Matthews said.

In April alone, 4,290 pounds of clothing was collected, Woods Matthews said. In May, June and July, 1,326, 2,028 and 1,149 pounds of textiles respectively were recycled each month. In August, 732 books were recycled.

“Since the City of Norwalk’s partnership with Helpsy launched, with the first pickup taking place on April 23, 212 residents have requested door-to-door pickups and 174 of them have been successful,” said Woods Matthews. “In August, Helpsy had 26 scheduled door-to-door pickups and 21 of them were successful.”

Norwalk previously had drop-off bins for unwanted clothing that were operated by USAgain and emptied weekly. Through the Helpsy program, residents can schedule a date and time for the company to pick up used clothing bags from the curb.

Data on the number of pickups from repeat Helpsy users was not readily available.

“Of the textiles collected by Helpsy, 95% are recoverable. Additionally, 75% is reusable and 20% is recyclable,” said Helpsy co-founder Alex Husted. “The objects collected are first sorted by Helpsy and its many partners and then divided into grades. Higher grades are resold on Helpsy’s new online marketplace, helpy.com, as well as to resellers who make a living selling used clothing online, to used partners in North America and other used markets around the world. Lower grades are for industrial use or things like rags, padding, and insulation.

Other cities using Helpsy in the state donated 616 to 2,866 pounds of clothing in August, according to Helpsy.

“Norwalk got off to a flying start in April, but based on seasonal changes, it’s typical to see a drop in scheduled pickups during the summer months as people often finish their ‘spring cleaning’ in the spring and summer. ‘fall,” Helpsy wrote. “So while 732 is a lower number than previous months for Norwalk, that’s to be expected and in line with Norwalk’s peers.”

Helpsy is free for the city. Instead, the company will pay Norwalk based on the number of pounds of textiles collected each month. The city receives 2 cents for every pound of textiles picked up, for a total of $40 for every ton, Helpsy representative Lisa Sciannella previously said.

Helpsy makes money by reselling clothes collected from curbside drives, Sciannella said.

To start, the program selected one day per week to conduct door-to-door pickups around Norwalk, with a goal of 35-40 pickups each time. In Norwalk, pickups are done every Saturday.

As long as the clothes are clean, they can be donated to Helpsy in any condition, including missing or holey buttons, depending on the donations accepted page. Helpsy accepts everything from shoes, clothes, pet clothes and Halloween costumes to linens such as tea towels, curtains and comforters.

Norwalk was the second Connecticut municipality to work with the company, after Stamford, but 10 Massachusetts municipalities, including Cambridge and Boston, have Helpsy services. Recently, Trumbull also started working with Helpsy, according to the list of participating municipalities.

While few cities in Connecticut have curbside pickup, there are Helpsy-run donation bins throughout the state.

Residents can schedule a curbside pickup date and time on line.

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