The Dallas Rock 'n' Roll Marathon will draw thousands of people downtown on Sunday, March 23, and a crowd that large leaves behind more than sweat and memories. As runners warm up, they shed clothing along the route. These discarded hats, jackets and T-shirts would normally get swept up by the trash trucks that clean the course.
Although it beats littering, tons of clothes end up rotting in landfills. Enter American Textile Recycling Services. The Dallas-born, Houston-based company is the national Rock 'n' Roll Marathon recycler.
"Instead of sitting in a landfill, everything that is collected is given a second life," says CMO Debra Stevenson.
This year marks the second-annual partnership between ATRS and the Dallas race, which benefits the Children's Miracle Network. Chief marketing officer Debra Stevenson says ATRS collects hundreds — if not thousands — of pounds of clothes along marathon routes.
The high-quality gear is redistributed to secondhand clothing stores; items that are ripped or stained get recycled and made into upholstery, stuffing and automotive items. Clothing that is in the worst shape gets broken down and made into thread.
"Typically at a big event like this, it would get picked up by the trash contractor and end up in landfills," Stevenson says. "Now, instead of sitting in a landfill, everything that is collected is given a second life."
ATRS founding president and CEO David Peganyee says the connection between running, recycling and the environment is seamless. "Runners are very often environmental advocates because they run outside and are health-conscious. It's a really natural fit."
In Texas, ATRS recycles 17.5 million pounds each year, including more than 4 million pounds from Dallas. Stevenson says just how many pounds will be collected on Sunday depends largely on the weather.
"We look anxiously at our weather apps on race day. If it stays cold, people don't drop off a lot of layers," she says.
To find a clothing and shoe recycler in your neighborhood, call the ATRS 24-hour hotline at 866-900-9308