Home / Knowledge / News / Textiles / Baltimore's Bill Schapiro is a man born to be green
Baltimore's Bill Schapiro is a man born to be green
Apr '11
It's rare today to hear about anyone following in the shoes of their great grandparents to continue the century-old family business. That's what makes Bill Schapiro a rare and interesting breed. "I am very proud to be a fourth generation Ragman," says Schapiro. He boasts about the rag or junk business which was an early way of recycling and a means of survival for immigrants like his great grandfather Solomon in 1907 Baltimore. Recycling discarded clothing for industrial uses, helped feed, clothe and shelter the young Schapiro family and others struggling to make ends meet at the turn of the century.

Later, Schapiro's grandfather, about 20 years old at the time, started collecting junk with a push cart and went on to build a sophisticated recycling business. "This was all before being green became so important and popular," says Schapiro. Now, he enthusiastically thumbs through log books his grandfather kept 90 years ago and marvels at the detail of the early rag trade. Today, that old rag business exists as modern textile recycling and a multi-million dollar international business for Schapiro's Baltimore-based company, Whitehouse and Schapiro.

Schapiro was literally born into recycling. His mother and father met at a recycling conference in 1948. That organization, now called SMART (Secondary Materials and Recycled Textiles), is an international association of businesses dedicated to recycling and reusing secondhand clothing and textiles. Increased awareness of the impact of waste on the environment has made the recycling of paper and plastics almost second nature, however, textiles are often thrown away, filling landfills and wasting valuable materials. Schapiro, a former president of SMART, led the association with a passion aimed at changing that thinking. His mantra: "SMART was green before green was smart." Schapiro and SMART urge everyone to "Re-use, Recycle, Don't Throw Away" when it comes to secondhand clothing and other household textiles.

Donating used clothing to charities like Goodwill and The Salvation Army is a great way to start the process. Those organizations sell the re-usable clothing at their stores, but also raise cash for their programs by selling tons of donated clothing to SMART recyclers who sort and sell it to developing countries. Materials not wearable are recycled for use as industrial wipers. Schapiro does point out that the United States remains the largest user of secondhand clothing. Thousands of thrift stores flourish in this country and around the world fulfilling basic clothing needs and doing a brisk business selling one-of-a-kind vintage fashion items too.

Bill Schapiro has carried on the family business and SMART's mission to environmentally recycle used textiles. Now he also helps finance and launch new businesses in the rag trade just like his great-grandfather did more than a hundred years ago. "My grandfather would be amazed at how "sexy" our industry has become!"

Must ReadView All

NRF urges US Congress to step in, stop trade war

Apparel/Garments | On 21st Jun 2018

NRF urges US Congress to step in, stop trade war

The National Retail Federation (NRF) recently urged the US Congress...

Courtesy: Connor Group

Textiles | On 21st Jun 2018

Protectionism top threat to textile sourcing: William Connor

Protectionism is the biggest political factor and threat affecting...

Courtesy: Tintex

Textiles | On 21st Jun 2018

'Price ratio is key factor for knitted fabrics market'

The price ratio is a key factor for the global knitted fabrics market ...

Interviews View All

Prabu Mohanram
Balavigna Weaving Mills Pvt Ltd

The biggest challenge that the weaving industry faces is high price

Amardeep Singh
Orient Craft

'In export markets, the trend in terms of embroidery, is towards matte...

Ajay Ghariwala
Luthra Group

We are ready to adopt or follow every opportunity

Harsh Shah

Established in 1956 with a small beginning, Embee today manufactures a...

Kamal Kulshreshth

Colorjet is among the fastest-growing wide format digital inkjet print...

Apurva Kothari

No Nasties was the first fashion brand in India to make 100 per cent...

Paolo Ocleppo
Sandvik Hyperion

Paolo Ocleppo, Rotary Cutting Segment manager, Sandvik Hyperion discusses...

Marten Alkhagen
Swerea IVF AB

Marten Alkhagen, Senior Scientist - Nonwoven and Technical Textiles of...

Giorgio Mantovani
Corman S.p.A

Giorgio Mantovani, MD of Corman, with a presence in both Milano and New...

Tony Ward
Tony Ward

"You have to truly understand what your client wants, know her needs, what ...

Prathyusha Garimella
Prathyusha Garimella

Hyderabad-based designer <b>Prathyusha Garimella</b> is known for blending ...

Sonam & Paras Modi

Sonam and Paras Modi's Sva Couture is synonymous with head-turning...

Press Release

Press Release

Letter to Editor

Letter to Editor

RSS Feed

RSS Feed

Submit your press release on


Letter To Editor

(Max. 8000 char.)

Search Companies


Leave your Comments

June 2018

Subscribe today and get the latest update on Textiles, Fashion, Apparel and so on.

news category

Related Categories:

Advanced Search