Many people donate their used clothing to thrift stores but don’t think about where those items eventually end up. Unfortunately, some clothing finds its way to local landfills, but much of it gets recycled, thanks, to a small niche market of textile recyclers like California Clothing Recyclers.
Marcus and Crystal Gomez, a husband and wife team, founded California Clothing Recyclers in the fall of 1997. Since then California Clothing Recyclers has been a leader of used clothing recycling serving the Sacramento region and Northern California. Since 1997, California Clothing Recyclers has recycled over 40 million lbs. of clothing in Northern California. Annually they keep close to 3.4 million pounds of clothing out of local landfills. Marcus’ great uncle got the family started in the clothing recycling business in the 1950s. Marcus’ father, Lorenzo Gomez, moved from Oakland to Sacramento in the 1960s to begin his own family business. Their mission is to preserve the environment while giving back to the community.
California Clothing Recycling helps to provide the millions of poor in third world countries with usable clothing they may not otherwise be able to afford. The council for textile recycling estimates that the industry can deliver a clean pair of damage-free pants to an underprivileged person in Africa for as little as .34 cents a pair and a warm sweater can find its way to someone who’s cold in Pakistan for about .12 cents. And that includes the transportation costs of getting it there.
The Gómezes mainly buy from small thrift stores all over northern California, including parts of the bay area and far north as Clear Lake. Many of these thrifts support charities and get an overabundance of clothing items or are changing out for the season. Americans have plenty of clothes and most prefer to buy new, while 70 % of the world wears used clothing.
California Clothing Recyclers began an innovative fundraising program in the fall of 2011, “Cash for Clothes”. Community members can benefit from this fundraiser by holding a clothing drive and collecting clothing, shoes, linens and purses for their schools, sports teams, non-profits and even individuals that want to help each other in times of need. This is the only program of its kind in Northern California.
In 2012, 27 non-profit organizations and church’s, in addition to several local schools, took advantage of this opportunity, and raised over $ 16,800 in funds collectively throughout the Sacramento region. Still in its infancy, we are learning what works best for organizations, for example those that can pre-collect for four to six weeks have better results and making this fundraiser as a stand-alone event has proven to be more beneficial.
Chicks in Crises, the Sacramento Hmong Alliance Church and Terra Nova Counseling Center are just a few of the local non-profit organizations that have benefited from hosting a clothing drive. Many sports teams, and schools have also taken part and the response has been very positive since this involves no selling or buying for members, just collecting, with the added benefit of knowing that you are helping the environment and other people who wouldn’t normally be able to afford quality used clothing.
California Clothing Recyclers is a model of success for other small Hispanic business owners in changing economic times. Owner Marcus Gomez has held numerous chamber positions encouraging other Hispanic businesses to benefit from chamber offerings. These include: Sacramento Hispanic Chamber Board Member, Vice President of Advocacy & Board Secretary and Chairperson of Jalapeño Golf Classic. Look for California Clothing Recyclers to continue being a community leader in Fundraising Events and Textile Recycling in the Northern California region.