Internship with FABSCRAP

My name is Parker Heuer, Class of 2021, and I have an internship at FABSCRAP, located in Sunset Park, Brooklyn at the Brooklyn Army Terminal. This is the first time I have had an internship, so the search process was entirely new to me in the spring. I am an environmental studies major at Skidmore and was seeking an environmentally relevant internship. I was open to finding an internship in any field within environmental studies such as recycling, environmental justice, environmental education, etc., because I have been hoping to learn more about what different aspects in the field pique my interest the most. For students that are interested in a wide variety of things, I recommend this method because personally I believe you can’t be sure what field you want to work in someday just by learning about it in a classroom; it’s best to actually try out working in that field.

After applying to nearly 12 different jobs and internships, I received and accepted an internship at FABSCRAP, a fabric recycling non-profit based in Brooklyn, New York with a store located in Manhattan. FABSCRAP acts as a private textile recycling company that exclusively accepts pre-consumer waste, mostly from the fashion industry. FABSCRAP was started by Jessica Schreiber in 2016. Schreiber used to work with the New York Department of Sanitation and realized that there was not a proper outlet for the tons of reusable and recyclable textiles coming from the fashion industry in New York, so she created FABSCRAP to fill that need. FABSCRAP receives 3,000-5,000 pounds of fabric a week, which must all be sorted for reuse, fabric recycling, paper recycling, and trash. Items separated for reuse, which consists of pieces of fabric at least 1 yard by ½ yard, as well as leather, pleather, and fabric with sequins, are sold at the FABSCRAP warehouse, store, and website.  Items that are sorted for fabric recycling, either because they are too small to reuse or have been marked by companies as proprietary, are sent to be shredded and turned into shoddy, which is often used for housing insulation or carpet padding.

Pile of bags at the FABSCRAP warehouse, filled with material that still needs to be sorted for reuse and recycling.

My focus at FABSCRAP is in reuse and volunteer coordination. FABSCRAP accepts volunteers twice a day and a large part of my job is to explain the sorting process to them and stand by in case they have any questions. However, another key aspect of my job is just to do what needs to be done. Something important I have learned at FABSCRAP is the importance of being a team player and willing to do whatever important, be it sometimes mundane, tasks that need to be done to keep a very small company running smoothly. This internship has definitely taught me about the professional side of recycling and about sustainability in the fashion industry, but even more, it has taught me about the hard work that goes into a start-up or small business.

I feel lucky to have this internship and to have had the special opportunity to receive an SEF award. I absolutely recommend Skidmore students to seek out internships in fields they think they might be interested in professionally, as well as to apply to the many SEF awards Skidmore has to offer.

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