Tiedemann Globe is putting a new spin on the adage “from rags to riches” in its commitment to sustainability.
The company sells and exports used clothing and industrial wiping rags in the hopes of cashing in on some green – green energy, that is. Tiedemann Globe recycles about 30 million pounds of used goods and clothing annually, in addition to spreading sustainable energy practices worldwide.
“We can make a difference; that’s what I believe in,” says Tony Tiedemann, founder and president of Phoenix-based Tiedemann Globe. “We’re not going to wait for the government to tell us what we can or can’t do. I think we can make changes now.”
Tiedemann Globe’s vintage finds are sold worldwide through several venues. TheRagHouse, an ebay.com store, sells vintage clothing in bulk, at Tiedemann Family Thrift and Vintage store, at 755 W. Baseline Road in Tempe, Ariz., and in Nairobi, Kenya, shoppers can buy used clothing.
If clothes can’t be sold, they are torn up and turned into industrial wiping rags.
“We even take it a step further. Clothing that’s no good for the wiping rags gets mutilated by other companies for padding of trunks of cars or the inside of pet bedding,” says Tiedemann.
It’s rare to have an item of clothing enter Tiedemann Globe that cannot be turned into a useable product. The company has 8 percent to 10 percent waste, but is striving to become a zero waste facility within the next two years.
The commitment to sustainability doesn’t stop there. Tiedemann Globe is helping citizens of Third World countries adopt sustainable practices that will help advance their quality of life. The Clean Energy Foundation, part of Tiedemann Globe, is introducing green practices to citizens in Kenyan villages.
Tiedemann Globe has sold used clothing in Kenya for almost 18 years, which made it the ideal location to start green education because the company already had infrastructure in place and Kenya has a great need for green education.
“There’s a huge demand (in Kenya). These people don’t even have a place to put their human waste, which is crazy to think about. So that’s why we started there,” says Tiedemann.
The Clean Energy Foundation has set up solar panels, water filtration and biogas conversion centers in rural Kenya with the goal of raising Kenyans’ quality of life. Biogas filtration centers turn waste into energy, while solar panels power schools and other buildings.
“Our primary purpose of providing the power is for light and specifically for education. Statistics show if the women are educated in society, everything else gets elevated and that’s our goal,” he adds.
Tiedemann has plans for the rest of the world, too. The company recently started a solar project in Rocky Point, Mexico, but Tiedemann is looking to another form of energy to power the world in the future.
“Eventually I think hydrogen’s the way. I know that a lot of people will argue that. But eventually I believe that we will get there. It’s the most abundant element out there and we’ve got to use it,” Tiedemann says.
As for how he plans to stay green in Phoenix, Tiedemann drives a natural gas car and the company’s forklifts run on propane. Tiedemann says he wants to see the green sector of Tiedemann Globe grow to become the biggest part of the company in the near future.
Tiedemann’s advice for companies that want to become more eco-friendly is to get help and don’t think too big.
“There are tons of companies out there that can help set up an infrastructure (to go green),” he says. “The bottom line is just to start small. Start and keep progressing as much as you can.”