Clothing recycler gives duds a second chance

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By Stephen Knapp

There’s been a sudden proliferation of used-clothing receptacles about town, many of them advertised as charitable enterprises. Roberto Feuereisen, on the other hand, hopes to make Evergreen’s castoffs pay.

“We’re a very, very small company,” Feuereisen says. I paint the boxes, I place the boxes, I empty the boxes, I clean the boxes. You want to see my office? It’s my house.”

To be sure, the four pale green receptacles Feuereisen has salted around Evergreen clearly identify his company, Second Chance, as a commercial enterprise. His road to profitability, however, will be long.

“The market price for collected clothing is 25 cents a pound,” says Feuereisen, who launched Second Chance in January and now has a total of 12 boxes, four of them in Evergreen. “Right now I’m making about $100 a week.”

Each of Feuereisen’s boxes can theoretically hold 400 pounds of clothes. Even full, however, a paltry dozen will never feed the cat.

“Right now I spend more on gas than I make with the clothes,” he says. “If I could get 50 or 60 boxes, out there, I might start making some money. I expect to start making a little profit in two years.”

No, Feuereisen isn’t getting rich recycling clothing, shoes and linens, but the Denver resident doesn’t necessarily expect to. A Chilean by birth and recycler by long practice, he considers recycling its own reward, and if he can make a little scratch giving otherwise serviceable clothing a second chance at usefulness, so much the better.

“In Chile, everybody works in the recycling system, and very little gets thrown away,” he says. “The United States is different. People throw a lot of things away that could still be used. I think that by recycling old clothes for 25 cents a pound, I make a little bit of money and the clothes get recycled. It helps the environment, and that’s better for everybody.”