Clothing Donation Containers to Double in Reykjavík

Textiles at an Icelandic Red Cross sorting facility.

The number of clothes donation containers in the capital area will be doubled from 40 to 80, and they will be placed closer to residents’ homes, RÚV reports. SORPA is taking over the management of the container network from the Icelandic Red Cross. The aim is to reuse more of the donated textiles, and those that cannot be repurposed will be burned for energy production rather than buried in landfills.

Containers overflowing with donations

Overflowing clothing donation containers have become a fairly common sight in Reykjavík in recent years. Donations often surpass the capacity of the containers and Iceland’s capacity to sort and reuse the textiles. In 2020, the Icelandic Red Cross exported about 200 shipping containers filled with used clothing, equivalent to around 900 tonnes of fabric.

Gunnar Dofri Ólafsson, director of communications at SORPA, says that currently only 3-5% of all textiles collected in Iceland are reused, in the sense of being worn by a second user after the first one discards them. Gunnar says SORPA’s main goal is to increase this percentage by whatever means possible.

Circular economy legislation implemented

New legislation called The Circular Law that took effect in Iceland last year stipulates that textile donations must be collected at drop-off centres close to where residents live. Now SORPA has taken over the management of the clothing donation containers as the Red Cross did not feel it had the capacity to add additional collection points.

Read more about the Circular Law in Iceland and entrepreneurs who are making the country’s economy more circular.

Kvennaskólinn Students Celebrate Peysuföt Day

Reykjavík’s Kvennaskólinn, or Kvennó, upper secondary school held its annual Peysuföt Day on Friday, RÚV reports. This is an almost century-old tradition wherein the second-year students dress in Iceland’s national costume and celebrate with traditional songs and dancing.

Peysuföt is the name for the Icelandic women’s national costume that was introduced in the 19th century. As explained on the Icelandic National Costume website site, 19th century peysuföt was simpler and less decorative than the costume it proceeded from, which was known as faldbúningur. Generally black or dark blue, it consisted of a tasseled cap, woolen skirt with a patterned apron, and long-sleeved jacked, or peysa, from which it takes its name. In the 20th century, “peysuföt…evolved with changing times, fashion trends and the availability of materials,” continues the site, but it still included the tightly-fitted peysa, the plackets and cuffs of which were now “trimmed with velvet, and the sleeves were slightly puffed at the shoulder.” A lace or embroidered stomacher was also added, as was a large silk bow tied at the neck.

Accompanied by an accordionist, Kvennó students began their celebrations on Friday by singing and dancing in front of the Ministry for Culture before moving along to a nursing home where they performed for residents and staff. There was more dancing and singing in front of one of the buildings on the students’ own campus, as well as at another nursing home and in Ingólfstorg square downtown after lunch. Students were then served cocoa and cake back at their school and were treated to a more expansive spread of treats than usual this year, in honor of the 100-year anniversary of their student association.

See a video of previous Peysuföt Day celebrations held by the Versló school:

Preparations for this year’s celebrations at Kvennaskólinn have been underway for a long time, as in addition to learning a number of songs for the occasion, the students were also taught to dance the skottís folk dance.

See the skottís performed:

Interestingly, students at Kvennaskólinn were required to wear the national costume to school from 1874, when Kvennaskólinn first opened as a women-only upper secondary institution, until 1906. (Kvennó became a co-ed school in 1977.) Although it was no longer required dress after 1906, many students still wore the national dress as something of a uniform until 1920, when only a few students are remembered as maintaining the tradition. The first official Peysuföt Day was initiated by students the following year, in 1921, and has been celebrated every year since.