Anyone who goes shopping in the Stadshart these days should really dig through his or her wardrobe first. Worn boxer shorts, discolored sweaters or pants with a broken zipper: until October 9 everyone can hand in discarded clothing at a recycling station at the Binnenhof. In exchange you have a chance to win a trip, of course sustainable and therefore by train.

    Recycle station for discarded clothing in Stadshart Amstelveen – Sympany & AAN!/Ernst-Jan Wilhelmis

    The action is an initiative of Stadshart Amstelveen, which wants to contribute to a more sustainable world. And there is still a world to be won, because more discarded clothing still ends up in the garbage dump than in containers for reuse.

    “Every year, the Dutch throw over 179 million kilos of textile into the residual waste and we collect about 135 million kilos for recycling,” says Wouter Reedijk of textile collector Sympany. The clothing that will be collected in the coming days will go to that company. But what actually happens after that?

    “There is simply too little interest in the Netherlands for used clothing”

    Wouter reedijk, Sympany

    “As soon as the clothing from the Stadshart arrives at us, we start sorting,” says Reedijk. The company divides the clothing into two categories: ‘rewearable’ and ‘recyclable’. About 65 percent of the collected clothing is re-wearable, Reedijk says. “We sell that to second-hand shops, especially in the Netherlands.”

    Those shops are often not interested in worn-out clothing. “We prefer to keep everything local, but there is simply too little interest in the Netherlands for used clothing, which makes it difficult to get rid of it. In Africa or other European countries there is sometimes a market for this.”

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    350,000 kilos in Amstelveen

    In 1988 Sympany started collecting in the municipality of Amstelveen. There are now 22 containers at 19 different locations in Amstelveen where you can throw your clothes. The Sympany website states that 350,000 kilos of clothing are collected annually in Amstelveen.

    Striking: between ten and fifteen percent of what is thrown in the clothes bins is not clothing. “For example, household appliances are also handed in,” says Reedijk. “It is therefore important to return the clean textile in a closed bag to protect it against moisture and dirt. The better we do this together, the more raw materials can be reused.”

    Sympany uses the proceeds from the rewearable clothing to further develop the possibilities in the second category: recycling. “We invest that in innovation,” says Reedijk. “Because the recycling techniques are still very limited.”

    And that is precisely why Sympany calls on Amstelveners to also hand in worn-out clothing. “Many people do not know that they can also hand in clothing with holes and tears, but we can still recycle that.” The clothing is processed into raw material, after which products such as insulation material or cleaning cloths are made.

    Oil and paint stains

    Can you really hand in everything at the recycling station at the Binnenhof? “Well, not everything,” he explains. “Dirty clothing, such as clothing with oil or paint stains cannot be recycled.” If you want to get rid of such clothing, you should throw it in the residual waste. “Everything else is welcome.”

    Fashionistas and sisters Olcay and Dolshe Gulsen have attached their name to the event. Those who donate clothing can dedicate it to one of the Gulsens, who both hope to collect a thousand kilos of clothing. Whoever donates clothes to Olcay has a chance of winning a train trip to London, whoever chooses Dolshe can hope for a trip to Paris.

    children’s books

    In addition to clothing, Stadshart Amstelveen is collecting this week also children’s books in. Books collected are distributed to charities such as Vluchtelingenwerk, food banks and sheltered homes.