Right next to Dana’s Riding Center resides a big white box that often goes unnoticed. For years now, Dana Hall has partnered with Bay State Textiles to collect outgrown clothes and shoes to go onto bigger and better places. However, there are three things many people (including me when I came on as Sustainability Coordinator) do not realize about this cool sustainability project.
- This box accepts so much more than just clothing: it welcomes pillowcases, stuffed animals, belts, old towels, even mattress covers. If it’s soft, the box will take it!
- The items collected don’t just get shipped to Goodwill stores across the country. Items that have been “well-loved” (those that are ripped, torn or stained) get a second life before being sent up to textile heaven. Bay State sends along your possession to a company that will convert your old boy-band tees or single socks into either wiping cloths or fiber to be used for pillow or car-seat stuffing or household insulation. Imagine: your bell-bottom jeans now keep someone’s house warm in the winter!
- Dana gets reimbursed for every pound of donation. Although it is sometimes only as much as $6 a month, every little bit goes into our Green Team fund to help pay for sustainable initiatives.
And yet, this box is often lonely. Although people at Dana know it exists, sometimes we forget about it. To remedy this, the Green Team decided to offer a little incentive last year to remind us to feed the box. For two years running, we have held a one-week clothing drive in late January to encourage the entire community to donate. We market it as a contest between grade levels and the faculty and staff. I’m proud to report that last year we gathered just over two tons of textiles; and this year, our official count was 2,756 pounds! Winners (this year, the Middle School and Faculty/Staff won first and second place) were awarded with dress-down days, and in the past, the seniors (who won previously) were allowed a sleep-in one Thursday morning in the Spring.
I may be a little biased, but I’m so proud of all that the Green Team has done this year in addition to this contest. We have started a school-wide selfie contest to promote and celebrate our Tuesday morning recycling duties; we now collect plastic bread bags in the Dining Hall to be recycled off campus; and we’re commencing a zero-waste initiative, which began with signs in the Dining Hall reminding students and adults to primarily use the reusable cups and plates. Being sustainable is not a one-time event, but a lifestyle that we’re hoping to promote here at Dana. We still have plenty of projects on the horizon, but I cannot be more grateful for being a part of a community that values the earth as much as we do.