Cotton Incorporated's College Recycling Campaign Trains Students to Host Drives

By Mitra Sorrells November 1, 2012, 3:21 PM EDT

Sparks trained the student groups how to conduct the denim recycling drives on their campuses and also provided collection bins, posters, and other materials.

Photo: FIDM/LA

Cotton Incorporated’s college-based denim recycling drive wrapped up Wednesday on seven college campuses. The company, which provides research and marketing for the cotton industry, hired event marketing agency Sparks to manage the “Cotton From Blue to Green” collection programs at the University of Kentucky, Texas Tech University, Simmons College, and four campuses of FIDM/Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising.

“We train student groups. We give them promotional materials, we give them swag—fun, branded items that they can hand out to students,“ said Cotton Incorporated director of consumer marketing Marissa Barlin. “We give them all the tools they need so they can put on their own drives on campus and in the local community. It’s a nice touch to put a face to the brand Cotton Incorporated and show we are serious about this program.” The program launched in 2006, and in 2010 the company added the tagline “Drop Your Jeans for a Good Cause” to “make the messaging and design more fun for the college demographic,” said Barlin.

This year Cotton Incorporated also partnered with People StyleWatch magazine. Student groups handed out free copies of the October issue, which included the magazine’s denim awards.

Each school holds at least two events on campus and one in the community with a goal of collecting at least 500 pieces of denim. In recent years, most schools far exceed that number: last year the schools collected a total of 18,800 jeans and pieces of scrap fabric. Arizona-based Bonded Logic recycles all of it into residential insulation with a portion of it going to needy communities. Since the recycling effort began in 2006, the recycling drive has produced more than 1.7 million square feet of insulation from nearly 850,000 pieces of denim.

In addition to the fall college program, Cotton Incorporated also collects denim throughout the year from companies such as PepsiCo and Harley-Davidson, which hold collection drives at their corporate headquarters. The general public can participate year-round through a mail-in program. There are also retail partners, such as American Eagle, which just wrapped up a promotion to give a discount to consumers who brought in their old jeans.

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