Helpsy’s Sustainable Revolution: Transforming Textile Recycling in New Jersey

Helpsy recycles over 31 million pounds of textiles per year!

by Mike Ham

In a bid to unravel the intricate threads of textile recycling and sustainability, I had the privilege of engaging in a eye-opening conversation with Lisa Scianella, the Chief of Staff at Helpsy, a pioneering force in the realm of sustainable fashion and recycling. The journey with Helpsy commenced eight years ago when friends Alex, Dan, and Dave acquired three clothing bin collection companies, setting the stage for a transformative revolution in textile recycling.

The essence of Helpsy’s commitment lies in its innovative sorting processes and a steadfast dedication to making a positive impact on the environment. Lisa walked me through the logistics of their clothing collection efforts, strategically placing bins in parking lots, organizing clothing drives, and fostering partnerships with municipalities. What struck me as ingenious was Helpsy’s practice of compensating municipalities for diverted clothes, creating a virtuous cycle that benefits both local communities and the environment.

One of the highlights of our conversation was the dispelling of misconceptions surrounding clothing donations to nonprofits. Lisa shed light on Helpsy’s collaborative efforts with nonprofits to transform unusable clothing into funds for charitable missions, underscoring the company’s holistic approach to social responsibility.

The intricacies of sorting and pricing items within Helpsy’s operations were revealed, showcasing a keen reliance on technology led by Jessica and her team. Their dynamic pricing strategy, shaped by market trends and customer feedback from an extensive network of over 6,000 thrift stores and resellers, exemplifies Helpsy’s commitment to adaptability and innovation.

Beyond the operational aspects, Lisa emphasized Helpsy’s commitment to creating meaningful employment opportunities and supporting its workforce. The intentional approach of being a second-chance employer resonates deeply, offering opportunities to individuals who may have faced challenges in the past.

In a separate segment, Lisa shared her journey from being a secondary math teacher to her current role in textile recycling and sustainability. Her insights into the growth of textile waste, collaborations with municipalities, and the role of Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) in regulating the fashion industry were eye-opening. We also delved into Helpsy’s in-house sorting app, Quick Scan, designed for efficient categorization, illustrating the company’s dedication to technological advancements.

As we wrapped up the conversation, Lisa encouraged listeners to explore more about Helpsy through its website, social media handles, and email. This episode serves as a portal into the heart of Helpsy’s sustainable practices, community engagement, and their unwavering commitment to creating positive change. Stay tuned for more episodes on the Mike Ham podcast, where we continue to unravel the fascinating landscape of sustainable fashion and recycling right here in New Jersey.

About the Author/s

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Mike Ham is the voice behind the popular podcast, "Greetings From the Garden State". Traveling up and down New Jersey, Mike brings his listeners the stories of the people and places shaping the Garden State. Not only is he a Jersey diehard, he is also a respected member of the podcast community and has spoken at several podcasting conferences. As he continues to amplify the voices of New Jersey, Mike Ham remains a passionate advocate for the diverse narratives woven into the fabric of the Garden State.

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