“I was the first woman to burn my bra. It took the fire department four days to put it out.”
– Dolly Parton
Sept. 9 — You can put away the matches and lighters away, ladies. There is a better way to dispose of your unwanted or ill-fitting brassieres.
Yes, you can do that. And just getting that message out is priority No. 1 for Elaine Birks-Mitchell, founder of The Bra Recyclers, a Gilbert, Ariz.-based venture that she says is the only one of its kind in North America.
Birks-Mitchell got the idea a few years back during a conversation with a friend who volunteered at a women´s shelter. She asked her friend about the items that get donated to the shelter.
“And she said, ´Oh, my God, we never get enough; we never get enough of them,´ ” Birks-Mitchell remembered.
So she got an uplifting – so to speak – idea: a company that would collect unwanted bras and donate them.
She and her husband started the company in October 2008. And the growth has been steady, so much so, she now receives 4,000 a month and supplies more than 40 shelters around the country.
She gets her stock from collection drives and from women who mail them (information on how to do that is on the company´s website, BraRecycling.com). Others come from a partnership with Soma Intimates, a chain of 120 stores nationwide that hosts twice-a-year bra donation drives.
Bras that have lost all their powers to lift and separate are recycled. None end up in landfills, said Birks-Mitchell.
Soma Intimates Brand President Laurie Van Brunt has worked with The Bra Recyclers and admires Birks-Mitchell´s operation.
“She has a charitable and philanthropic heart,” said Van Brunt. “She´s a great supporter.”
In so many ways.
Contact WRN editor John Campanelli at email@example.com.