(WJET/WFXP/YourErie.com) — Real talk for a moment: People are wasteful. John Sandau is trying solve one piece of that problem.

According to a publication of the Environmental Protection Agency, more than 11 million tons of textiles (clothing and fabrics) were taken to landfills in 2018. That’s nearly 70 pounds per American. That’s a lot of garbage that doesn’t necessarily need to be garbage.

Sandau is a pastor at a church in Conneaut Lake. He’s lived in the area for about four years. With a wife and five children, Sandau needed to supplement his income, but he wanted to earn that extra income on his terms.

“I was always interested in clothing recycling. And I wanted to find a way to provide for myself and others around me while also doing some good for the people around me as well,” he explained.

So Sandau launched Go Recycle Pennsylvania. Go Recycle Buffalo has been in the Buffalo area for about four years, and Sandau launched a northwest Pennsylvania branch about two months ago.

Sandau is very clear that the company is for-profit. They don’t collect monetary donations. But even as a for-profit company, Go Recycle Pennsylvania is focused on giving back.

“We’re working to solve one problem,” Sandau said. “We’re a for-profit organization that has an extremely charitable emphasis.”

Here’s how it works: Throughout Crawford and Mercer counties (Sandau said the company is planning to expand into Edinboro and Erie in the not-too-distant future), Go Recycle Pennsylvania has placed 55 drop boxes. People can bring unwanted clothing, in any condition, to those drop boxes 24-hours per day. From there, Go Recycle Pennsylvania does one of three things with the clothing.

First, people in need can reach out to Go Recycle Pennsylvania (contact information is on the Go Recycle Pennsylvania Facebook page). A coat, shoes, baby clothes — whatever it might be –Sandau will ask their size and do his best to find a match and get that clothing item to that person. These would be donated clothing items that aren’t damaged and with modern designs.

“There’s no charge and no questions asked,” Sandau said.

The undamaged and modern clothing that isn’t directly given to people in need will be brought to local organizations and businesses that can re-sell it.

Second, Go Recycle Pennsylvania works with people overseas who will buy the clothes, selling them at a fraction of the price it would cost for new.

“Unfortunately, things we might not wear in America they’re thrilled to have it in a third-world country,” Sandau said.

Third, anything that isn’t given away or sold overseas — such as ripped or damaged clothes — is sold by the truckload to recycling companies that repurpose the textiles. They could become insulation, bedding, or maybe anything that needs a cushioning material.

Selling the clothes overseas or to recycling is where Sandau makes a profit.

“It’s not super lucrative, but it is a decent, honest way to make money,” he said.

Go Recycle Pennsylvania is not out to siphon the gently-used clothing supply away from nonprofit organizations. Rather, Sandau views the venture as a supplemental.

“We want people to know to support their local nonprofit thrift stores first. We are the second resort,” he said. “We’re not in competition with any local thrift stores and we support them in any way we can. We call it being a good neighbor.”

The local arm of the company is just getting off the ground. Sandau encourages the public to check the company’s Facebook page for updates as it continues to grow.

“We’re a local company trying to make an honest living and do good for those around us,” he said.