Avoiding textile waste is mission of Thread Up Oxford

Actors in Rise Up Performing Arts’ production of The SpongeBob Musical in Middletown in April took the stage in some costumes created from Thread Up donations. All the little girls are shown wearing skirts made from donated gold fabric, and Squidward wore a tux jacket lined with a blue iridescent organza donation. CONTRIBUTED

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Actors in Rise Up Performing Arts’ production of The SpongeBob Musical in Middletown in April took the stage in some costumes created from Thread Up donations. All the little girls are shown wearing skirts made from donated gold fabric, and Squidward wore a tux jacket lined with a blue iridescent organza donation. CONTRIBUTED

Group works to find ways to reuse materials that typically are thrown out.

OXFORD — Textile waste has become a large part of the mountains that make up landfills and one local resident is leading an effort to decrease at least that part of contributions to trash collections.

Thread Up Oxford was started last year with the mission of finding alternative ways to use no-longer needed fabrics and clothing items. The concept was a long-time dream of Shana Rosenberg who decided to take the step of making it into reality in February of last year.

“I look at textile waste as a community problem,” she said. “A few of us started talking about doing something about textile waste in town. I had thought about this a few years ago. In the discussion, I thought I should go back to this. We held a textile drive in April (2021) and got one-and-a-half tons of material.”

The problem then shifted to finding ways to distribute what was collected. Much of the clothing was in good condition and would still be serviceable. Some of it was distributed at Parkview Arms Apartments during visits with the food pantry mobile van visits taking food to residents.

Rosenberg said she was then faced with the decision whether to turn Thread Up into a business or a nonprofit and opted for the latter, although she still hopes to make it a business at some point. Thread Up was incorporated with the state of Ohio last August and last month, she received formal recognition as a 501c3 nonprofit agency.

While last year was busy, she provided numbers for her operation this year showing distribution of a ton – 2,000 pounds – of textile items diverted from the landfill in 2022 going to 165 individuals, with 135 of them receiving items at a recent Saturday distribution at Talawanda Oxford Pantry and Social Services food shopping day.

She also arranged for a Pop-up Shop at the Saturday morning Uptown Farmers Market last weekend and plans to be there many more Saturdays, sometimes with clothing items and other times demonstrating craft items people can do with various types of textile scraps.

It’s the clothing she finds most rewarding.

“It’s difficult to get jobs, it’s difficult with social interactions unless there are clothes people feel comfortable in. A lot of people have had their clothing stolen and cannot afford new prices. Instead of throwing out clothes, I want to give it to the community where it will help the most,” Rosenberg said.

While much of the Thread Up efforts are aimed at getting reusable clothing to those who need it, Rosenberg is also finding ways of getting further use out of textiles which are not still good clothing items.

She takes shoes to a place in Cincinnati which distributes usable ones and recycles the rest. They also recycle denim to be used for insulation. Socks get a second use through a firm called Smart Wool.

Locally, she has told the Thread Up Oxford story to anyone who wants to learn more. She has spoken at a Kiwanis meeting, environmental classes and fashion classes as well as a group of local artists. She has worked with groups of children on craft projects using textile scraps and has attended “lots of meetings” including the Needs Awareness group of local non-profits and the Coalition for a Healthy Community – Oxford, Ohio, and joined the ShareFest board.

Thread Up was recently given a van by the Bridgepoint Pantry after it closed and Rosenberg is volunteering her time and the van to help with the current ShareFest effort collecting items from departing Miami University students to keep those out of the landfill. She said she does a lot with creative reuse.

“I give a lot to crafters and quilters, to the backpack program by Sue Jones, the Pregnancy Care Center. I have donated to two dozen projects. I have worked with a lot of groups,” she said. “My mission is textile waste reduction. How? Working at the local community level, upcycle, and recycle. Also, education, letting people know how to keep things out of the landfill. The third thing is the stuff people donate (gets used) and how to distribute it back.”

Prom dresses are another source of fabric which is often worn once and relegated to a closet. Thread Up Oxford put on a Princess Project prom dress give-away providing dresses during prom season to save on the number of dresses needed for purchase and especially to help those unable to afford such an extravagance.

Rosenberg has announced the beginning of a program for “Karma Bucks” which can be earned in various ways including purchases from Thread Up, supportive postings on social media, donating and volunteering. She said she told other social service agencies at the recent Needs Awareness meeting she would give each one 5,000 of them to distribute to clients.

If the initial ton and a half of donations sounds overwhelming, Rosenberg said she has since seen that rise to five tons of donations, now involving three storage units – one of them used for the unsorted stuff Thread Up has accumulated. That unit needs attention, so she has a call out for anyone with time to help for volunteering.

She also has a need for board members since it is a 501c3 enterprise and can use financial support. She said she has need for gallon-sized plastic storage bags. She has also created an Amazon wish list if anyone wants to donate items she needs.

Rosenberg grew up in Oxford, the daughter of professor parents, graduated from Talawanda High School and Miami University and she and her husband are a Miami Merger.

“I’m a townie through and through,” she said.

She has a goal of turning Thread Up into a business but will build toward that as a non-profit.

“I want to be an Oxford employer. I want to go back to all textiles all the time. I want a textile shredder. It’s just really exciting, so multi-faceted,” she said. “I’m a patient person, but I need this to succeed.”

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Shana Rosenberg demonstrates part of the t-shirt yarn-making process at Earth Fest. She said in a Facebook post it was great sharing the park with so many other great organizations working on sustainability. CONTRIBUTED

Shana Rosenberg demonstrates part of the t-shirt yarn-making process at Earth Fest. She said in a Facebook post it was great sharing the park with so many other great organizations working on sustainability. CONTRIBUTED

Combined ShapeCaption
Shana Rosenberg demonstrates part of the t-shirt yarn-making process at Earth Fest. She said in a Facebook post it was great sharing the park with so many other great organizations working on sustainability. CONTRIBUTED

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