Inspired by the mission of doing well and doing good in business, entrepreneur Ira Baseman founded Community Recycling, a socially and environmentally conscious, for-profit recycling company, in 2001.
Ira came to the clothing recycling industry more than 14 years ago after a variety of successful professional and entrepreneurial endeavors, including corporate and real estate law, homebuilding, and a technology venture. With the establishment of a retail thrift operation in Philadelphia, he discovered the powerful, personal connections that happen through clothing recycling. Upon the sale of the store to Goodwill Industries, Ira launched Community Recycling with the desire to disrupt the traditional thinking of the Three Rs. Seeing the untapped opportunities to connect the dots and promote the economic, environmental and social value of reuse in clothing recycling, Ira has been on a simple, but ambitious mission: Create personal connections through recycling. By focusing on reuse, recycling is personal and impactful, and connects communities locally and across the globe. In other words, People Recycling for People.
Ira advances his company’s mission through what he deems the “Reuse Movement,” where sustainability and economic development go hand-in-hand and reuse does not end with just clothing being reworn by others. As a result, Community Recycling engages more than 5,000 partner organizations in the U.S. and more than 50 countries in the Reuse Movement by recycling or repurposing materials, helping to grow local economies and provide jobs for people in the U.S. and around the world.
Fully embracing his mission, Ira frequently travels abroad to interact with clients and the people who benefit directly from the efforts of Community Recycling and its network of recyclers. From start to finish, he looks to make connections, share stories and create opportunities through the simple act of recycling.
Prior to founding Community Recycling, Ira enjoyed a career as a corporate attorney in Washington, DC, and Philadelphia, with a focus on contracts and commercial real estate development. He left the law to join Toll Brothers, the nation’s leading builder of luxury homes, and contributed to its national growth by opening new markets around the country.
Ira earned his bachelor’s degree in political science and philosophy from George Washington University, and his J.D. from The George Washington University Law School. He resides in Princeton, NJ.
How did you first get involved in this green industry?
I came to the world of clothing recycling more than 14 years ago after a variety of successful professional and entrepreneurial endeavors, including corporate and real estate law, homebuilding and a technology venture. With the establishment of a retail thrift operation in Philadelphia, which I ultimately sold to Goodwill Industries, I discovered the powerful, personal connections that happen through clothing recycling. With this understanding, I launched Community Recycling with the desire to disrupt the traditional thinking of the Three Rs. Seeing the untapped opportunities to connect the dots and promote the economic, environmental and social value of reuse in clothing recycling, I have been determined to elevate the cause of clothing recycling. By focusing on reuse, we make recycling personal and impactful, and we connect communities locally and across the globe. In all that we do, it is about People Recycling for People.
What interests you most about being green?
The human connections and stories that we share as part of the recycling experience. Recognizing the good that comes from recycling clothing is not limited to the environmental impact. Ultimately, it is about the connection we share with others through recycling.
What is your biggest green pet peeve?
The misunderstanding that being a for-profit company is somehow inconsistent with our mission or purpose for doing well and good at the same time.