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Reduce, Reuse, re-FashioNYC

Reduce, Reuse, re-FashioNYC

Wouldn’t you love to walk right down into your building’s laundry room and drop off donations that you know will directly benefit NYC’s homeless? Well, now you can. Recycling your unwanted clothing and linens has never been easier. A Park Slope apartment building by Prospect Park was one of the first to take advantage of the re-FashioNYC program—a textile recycling partnership between Housing Works and the NYC Department of Sanitation. We sat down with long time resident and co-op VP, Janine Nichols about the importance, convenience, and sheer awesomeness of the program (we’re not biased at all).

Janine Nichols’ career has touched many parts of New York’s artist culture. She was the music coordinator for Saturday Night Live in the late ‘70s, directed programming at what is now St. Anne’s Warehouse, has written for many publications, and is now focusing on music via her jazz-folk band. Much of Janine’s work is created in her home, where the community within is what she describes as very inspiring, communal, and open. The re-Fashion program has allowed the already sharing culture of the building to grow and benefit many more New Yorkers in need.

How did your building get involved with the re-FashioNYC program?

My neighbor and I were at the Greenmarket, where someone was collecting clothing and bedding. They had a postcard for your re-Fashion bins so I took a postcard home. I’m on the Board of Directors for the building, so I said, “I think we should do this!” I can push a cart of clothes up the street to a donation center, but not everyone can. The building said, okay definitely.

Why do you think re-Fashion is such an important program?

It’s not just that it benefits people on the other end. It benefits people in our building too. You know how you think about getting rid of something, and you think, well, how do I do it? It sometimes stops you from getting rid of it. So the fact that the bin is just in the laundry room, which people are going to anyways, is a kind of a beautiful thing.

How popular is the program in your building?

It’s amazing how fast we fill that thing up, and people love it.

How often does it fill up?

Once a month. I kept thinking that at some point it would slow down, because how many times can you clean out your linen closet? It seems like it wouldn’t be a bottomless thing, but somehow it seems to be.

Is recycling just part of your ethos?

I’m pretty hardcore. When we moved to Brooklyn in 1985, there were only a few places to recycle in the city. We used to save our recycling and drive it all to Manhattan. That’s how inaccessible it was to recycle at the time.

It seems like you’ve had a hand in shaping the culture of your building?

I’m not your average bear. I’m like the recycling maven of the building. My friend Mary, who’s the secretary on the board, created an incredible board downstairs that says what you can throw in a recycling bin, and what you cannot. It’s a magnificent thing. She’s an archeologist/Egyptologist for the Brooklyn Museum and is the most incredibly organized person in the world. I also give these talks at the annual meeting about what can be recycled and what can’t. Our building is way in compliance.

Why is recycling such an integral part of your life?

The more we read about the way the world is going, we need to be a lot smarter about the things that we have, how much we carry. Is it too much, or too little? We need to put a lot more thought into what we have. I’m amazed, the older I get, the more I want to throw things away. When I was young, I just wanted to buy things. The older I get, it’s like, I guess I had forty years to read that, I’m not going to.

I’ve just been shedding on an almost constant basis now. It feels good. You feel less encumbered. I say this to my son who just graduated from college “don’t get too weighed down. Travel light.” My kid, this is just part of his conscience, which shows that it’s incremental process.

To sign up your building up for re-FashioNYC, go to the website and enroll today.

To learn more about Janie’s work, check it out here.

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