FABSCRAP at Bok is saving the environment—one scrap at a time
By Margaret Kalalian
Volunteer to help keep fabric out of the landfill!
In the fairytale Rumpelstilskin, the King locks up the miller’s daughter and orders her to spin a room full of straw into gold by morning to save her life. In real life, volunteers at FABSCRAP in the Bok Building are sorting tons of textile waste to save the environment.
FABSCRAP, created in 2016 to solve the textile waste problem created by more than 900 designers in New York City, opened its first location in Brooklyn, NY. Founders Jessica Schreiber and Camille Tagle sought to collect and reuse the huge amounts of excess fabric the fashion industry produces.
FABSCRAP opened its second location in the Bok Building in November 2021. For a fee, FABSCRAP picks up unwanted fabric from 700 participating fashion, interior, and entertainment companies and takes it to its facilities in New York and Philadelphia.
Volunteers work three-hour segments to separate the materials according to various fibers. Staples, tape, and cardboard attached to the scraps have to be removed before they can be tossed into the respective bins. In return for their service, volunteers can take five pounds of fabric for each shift they work. Fabrics, trimmings and yarn are also available for sale at reasonable prices. You can shop online or make an appointment to purchase items at Bok.
Materials are sorted into separate bins for 100% cotton, spandex, wool, mixed fibers, leather, sequins, and lace. Approximately 40% of the sorted material is shredded for insulation and other uses.
Since it launched in 2016, FABSCRAP has diverted nearly one million pounds of fabric from landfills. FABSCRAP’s 2021 annual report states most of this fabric (62%) is synthetic or chemical. It takes 30–40 years to break down synthetic fibers and a hundred years to fully decompose. Recycling and reuse keeps this waste from landfills and reduces the production and environmental costs of producing new synthetic petroleum-based fiber.
With FABSCRAP located in Bok, Philadelphia volunteers are making a difference in sustainable manufacturing. Volunteers can register on Eventbrite. Sessions are available Monday to Friday, 9 a.m.—12 p.m. and 1 p.m.—4 p.m.