Nicosia- With 292 of its distinctive purple bins in 30 municipalities and 106 communities of Cyprus, Anakyklos Perivallontiki has come far since the textile recycling effort began in July 2010.
Speaking to the press on Tuesday, the not-for-profit environmental organisation’s director Doros Michael noted that in the past, unless donated to charity, unwanted clothing would end up in the landfill.
Through Anakyklos’ efforts, now only 2% of the items put into the purple bins is eventually thrown away. Clothing that is not suitable for donating to those in need or interested buyers is processed into rags, insulation or fibres either in Cyprus or overseas.
Not only is this far more beneficial to the environment, but the collection also allows clothing –and other items– to be passed on to families in need through the two Anakyklos shops in Nicosia and Limassol.
Anakyklos PR officer Androulla Shati said for children from families not receiving aid from the Social Welfare Services — through which families and individuals in need are given coupons with which to shop at the stores — written assurances from their children’s school would suffice.
Anyone is permitted to purchase second-hand goods from the shops and vintage treasures are also available, Shati said, often attracting theatre troupes and television producers interested in genuine period pieces.
Describing the organisation as “a child of the crisis”, Michael said that as people were forced to hold onto clothes for longer, clothing donations since July last year have increased at a slower pace than the previous year, and efforts had been made to ensure that enough clothes were amassed to keep Anakyklos going.
“This was achieved through cooperating with schools and organisations, offering them 50% of the money we received for the items they were able to collect and donate to us,” Michael said.
With 25 employees, most of whom are previously unemployed young Cypriots, Anakyklos also makes every effort to use local products and services, including for the manufacturing of its bins, he continued.
“I am proud to say that we have managed not to reduce staff numbers or benefits,” he added.
In the three years it has been operating, Anakyklos has collected 3,010 tonnes of textiles and amassed an income of €593,971 from July 2012-July 2013 alone with outgoing expenses of €596,561 and the remainder going towards paying off loans.
“We are great believers in transparency,” Michael said, adding that although not legally obliged to, Anakyklos wanted to inform the public about how their donations were used.
Anakyklos also carries out events in the community to raise awareness on recycling.
These, Shati said, include visits to schools and other venues where, as well as hearing about Anakyklos’ efforts, children were shown how to customise their own clothing to get more wear out of them — such as painting a design on a plain T-shirt, and encouraged to make toys for themselves from their unwanted items.
Many more schools and organisations for people with special needs had shown interest in further cooperation, Shati said, adding: “We have also been discussing devoting space in our shops to crafts made by people with special needs to help raise funds for their organisations.
Other Anakyklos projects also include the creation of vegetable gardens and close cooperation with community markets and similar efforts to help those in need.
An organic vegetable and aromatic garden at Athienou’s Kleanthio Community House makes a significant contribution to the 40 residents’ meals.
The organisation also actively promotes to use of Cyprus seeds over imported through workshops and visits.
Anakyklos Perivallontiki also practises what it preaches about the importance of recycling. “We recycle everything we possibly can,” Michael said, including plastic bags, broken plastic toys and broken electronic items, through other organisations able to recycle them.
Also speaking to the press on Tuesday, Commissioner for the Environment Ioanna Panayiotou said that Anakyklos Perivallontiki was an excellent example to others.
“As well as doing good for the environment and society, it has also created 25 ‘green’ employment positions. Other organisations could help open up even more,” she said.
Michael also noted that while one of the recycling trailblazers in Cyprus, Anakyklos’ example could be followed by others, noting that in Italy environmentally-focused organisations employed hundreds of thousands of people and had billions of euro income.
Unwanted items that should be put into Anakyklos’ bins include clean clothing and pairs of shoes, bedding and curtains, handbags and belts. Other, usable items, such as toys can also be donated. If a large number of goods – from clothing to household items – is available, a member of the Anakyklos team can arrange for them to be picked up.
The shop in Nicosia is situated at 10, Costakis Pantelides St, between Solomos and Eleftheria Squares, and the one in Limassol at 42, Karatzia St.
Visit www.anakyklos.org or call 99722121 for more information.