UO Housing turns unusable uniforms into recycled rags

Facilities staff in University Housing recently went looking for a way to recycle staff uniforms, and in the process found a new source for industrial shop towels as well.

Staff members are issued new uniforms every year, which leaves the department holding 500 uniforms consisting of polo shirts, food service shirts, aprons and chef jackets. The UO logo on the uniforms prevented them from being donated because removing the logo destroyed the clothing.

Gus Lim, director of Housing Facilities Services, said they had a need and had to come up with an inventive solution.

He found a vendor to chop up the clothes and to destroy the logo. Then the 500 uniforms were converted to industrial rags by the Pearl Buck Center — a rehabilitation facility that trains people with disabilities, helping them find employment.

“They collected all of the staff uniforms and delivered the 22 boxes of industrial rags,” Lim said.

As a result, housing services will no longer need to purchase industrial shop towels used for vehicle and other industrial maintenance.

Lim, along with housing staffers Pam Bielefeld and Tracey Dudley, worked with Will Ellingsworth, assistant manager of production at the Pearl Buck Center, to recycle the uniforms.

“Each year the staff gets new uniforms and we’ll go through the same process,” Lim said.

―By Corinne Boyer, Public Affairs Communications intern