Fresno recycler thrives finding new life for old clothes

Gerard Ortiz

Eco World President Jené D’Ambrosio in the company’s 20,000 square foot facility in Fresno. Eco Earth is a zero-waste, reuse and re-don outfits corporation that functions with affiliates these kinds of as educational institutions and churches to maintain garments out of landfills. Picture by Frank Lopez

printed on June 27, 2022 – 11:55 AM
Written by Frank Lopez

Substantially like in their market, married pair Jené and Daren D’Ambrosio have taken what they have and created a thing new.

Jené and Daren are the owners of Eco Globe, a zero-squander, reuse and re-put on outfits recycling organization in Fresno.

Out of its major facility downtown, Eco Planet diverts utilized clothing, sneakers and other textiles from landfills, amassing them by using donation bins and choose-up services.

The Fresno site serves a lot of Central California, and the enterprise also operates in Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Nevada.

Hitting 10 decades in business and flourishing all through the pandemic, Eco Planet has appreciated steady 30% progress each individual of the earlier five yrs. 

Equally Central Valley natives, the D’Ambrosios want to preserve their household small business ideal exactly where it is. 

“Keeping things neighborhood and aiding out area communities is what we needed to instill in this firm, to individual from other men and women in this market,” Jené said. “Textile recycling is a extremely overseas industry and persons don’t comprehend that it even exists 50 percent the time.”

“That’s the place we consider to get that know-how out to the neighborhood,” she added. 

Building recognition

The larger small business globe is commencing to take detect of the very important market providers this sort of as Eco Earth fill. The Kiplinger Letter — a paid out forecasting publication for executives and buyers — very last month said new federal research is checking out superior ways to recycle outfits. At this time only 15% of discarded textiles are recycled or reused. The National Institute of Benchmarks and Technology is major an initiative to modify that.

Less expensive apparel, synthetic substance and modern style developments of limited-lived kinds are blamed for the increased waste, which charge the U.S. $5 billion to deal with in 2020, in accordance to Kiplinger.

Eco Globe is on the floor floor of that energy, working with 198 affiliates to acquire apparel donations, such as colleges, churches, nonprofit companies and charities.

Donation bins will be stationed at affiliate web pages, from where it will be picked up and the affiliate companion paid out for the item. The finest clothing is saved and bought by the affiliate marketers. Clothing that is torn, stained and unusable will be turned into carpet pad underlay and insulation — the key source of Eco World’s profits. 

Unlike metal or electronic recycling, Darren reported there is not as a lot as demand from customers for textile recycling mainly because of its constrained uses. 

All-around 15 many years in the past, Daren claimed the market place for outfits recycling was incredibly compact — largely Goodwill and Salvation Army diverting leftover merchandise overseas, which eventually became acknowledged as “dumping,” Darren claimed.

For several years, Africa would allow second-hand clothes into the nation, but that was eventually curtailed. Mexico does not allow for any products. 

Eco Planet co-owners and married couple, Jené and Daren D’Ambrosio. Photo by Frank Lopez

 

“Cans and plastic can be manufactured into just about just about anything,” Daren said. “It’s much less expensive to dump it [clothing] in a landfill than to recycle it.” 

Jené mentioned the garments recycling business is a great deal additional recognized on the East Coast. It’s astonishing to her that a point out like California hasn’t taken additional initiative. 

The pair says a promoting marketing campaign is wanted to teach and influence shoppers not to toss their clothing in the trash.

New beginnings

The D’Ambrosios route into apparel recycling was unlikely. In 2010, the finish of just one cycle kicked off one more.

At the time, Darren experienced a significant concession company, Duggan’s Concessions, that was not integrated. When a person of his vendors fell guiding, it led to litigation that finally induced the D’Ambrosios to reduce their enterprise and even their house.

They were being remaining with just one kettle corn stand they would choose to swap satisfies and farmer’s markets. Jené was bartending and waitressing to make cash to hold the stand running.

In 2012, a good friend from Africa in the textile market requested them to collect clothes and shoes from the nearby swap satisfies and farmer’s markets to send him.

Soon after creating a container for the outfits and sorting out of their garage, they made the decision to see if they could make a enterprise of it.

“It was gradual rolling in the beginning mainly because we didn’t have a bank for a financial loan we didn’t have grants or any of that. There ended up occasions when we believed about shutting down or receiving positions someplace, but we just in no way stopped,” Jené said. 

They would collect clothing, lease a U-Haul truck, drive to the ports, fill a shipping container and mail it off. 

To keep the corporations viable, Daren understood that they would have to do a lot of quantity. 

In 2015, they located a girl who was selling clothing donation bins like you would see in keep parking lots. She labored with the D’Ambrosios on payments. 

The following step was driving close to the Valley inquiring to set bins on attributes. Many entrepreneurs had been apprehensive to get them, scared of graffiti, trash and vandalism.

eco-world
A pile of made use of clothes waits to be sorted and processed at Eco World’s Fresno facility. Every thirty day period, Eco Entire world processes 1.5 million lbs of clothes and textiles in a thirty day period. Photo by Frank Lopez

 

Jené would guarantee them that they have been heading to be a different form of firm — a person that would choose-up donations once a week or faster if needed. The bins would be kept clear and appropriately maintained. 

Their 1st store for sorting and storage was 1,500 sq. feet. 3 years back, they moved into their fourth and latest place, which addresses 20,000 sq. feet.

In the beginning, it would take the corporation six months to fill a transport container. These days, Eco Globe processes 1.5 million lbs . of outfits and textiles for every thirty day period. 

Searching to the potential

In 2020, Eco World set up Just Porch It, a cost-free decide-up assistance where by individuals can timetable a no-speak to pickup of their undesired apparel, shoes and other textile things. 

Just Porch It was launched correct prior to the start off of the pandemic, and the business enterprise allowed them to continue to keep donations flowing, retaining revenue streams for both their firm and affiliates. 

Together with their bins in various states, Eco Environment has a warehouse in Portland that serves Oregon and Washington, as properly as a warehouse in Reno and Idaho. 

There are designs to insert yet another warehouse in the back again of the South Fresno assets, and work recently began on a satellite facility in Stockton to expand company protection additional north. 

It’s the company’s very first foray into a satellite facility, but if it functions, Jené mentioned they will open much more and just preserve rising. 

“Slowing down is not an choice,” she mentioned.

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