BY THE ABOMINABLE KNOWMAN
NEW BRUNSWICK- Jane Walton, a Rutgers Environmental Sciences major, has discovered how to preserve and reuse an underutilized and often wasted resource: bellybutton lint.
“We all waste stuff, like old clothes and stuff we could’ve recycled. One morning I was showering and picked the lint from my bellybutton. I thought, ‘Do I have to waste this too?’”
Thus her company Belly Cloth was conceived.
“A few mornings in a row I collected my bellybutton lint in a Ziploc and then tried knitting them together. The lints held and I felt a sweater forming in my hands.”
Janie told her friends the idea and they were sold immediately.
“She cares so much about humanity,” says best friend Kathy Mulson.
“I’ve never met anyone so innovative,” says best friend forever Ally Hester.
“I’m doing this because they are,” says girl who isn’t really part of the group Diane Flint.
The Belly Cloth team created a collection jar, and the students in their residence hall were happy to donate all the bellybutton lint they had.
“We have trash bags full. An inspector said it was a fire hazard, but I don’t think he really cares about our cause.”
Button Cloth’s production runs around the clock. Knitters gather in an empty classroom they reserved in Campbell Hall’s basement.
“We like to call it our sweatshop,” says Walton, “because we wear the sweaters when we knit to authenticate the experience. Like, to become the people who will wear our sweaters.”
The sweaters are donated to local shelters and passed out at the New Brunswick train station. The student population commends the cause, acknowledging that diversifying a wardrobe is an ongoing issue in poorer populations.
Her plans for expansion include a line of socks, scarves, and thongs. But before growing beyond sweaters, Weston must deal with lawsuits from clothing companies claiming she’s reselling their goods.
“It’s charity. Where are their hearts? They need to get their heads out of their asses and into their bellybuttons.”
On how she stays motivated, Walton refers back to her revelation in the shower.
“I had this vision of a poor person and a homeless person fighting over who would get a lint sweater. They were punching and scratching each other, and it really moved me to action. Whenever I’m feeling like the cause is hopeless, I think of that vision and find the strength to collect more lint.”