Giving New Starts with Secondhand Goods
According to the EPA’s Office of Solid Waste, the average American throws away 68 pounds of clothing and textiles each year, resulting in nearly 36 billion pounds of used jeans, T-shirts and other apparel being dumped in landfills annually.
Since 1902, Goodwill’s entrepreneurial nonprofit model of collecting and selling donated goods has helped communities repurpose their textiles and other used goods in environmentally sound ways that prevent them from piling up in local landfills. Last year alone, more than 79 million Goodwill donors in the U.S. and Canada helped divert more than 2.5 billion pounds of usable goods from the waste stream.
This model is not just good for the planet, but for people as well. Goodwill’s founder, Dr. Edgar J. Helms, started our organization with the intent to “save the waste in men and things.” Today, Goodwill uses the revenue from the sale of donated items in more than 2,800 stores and online to fund customized job training, employment placement and community-based services to people with disabilities, those who lack education or job experience, and others who face challenges finding employment. In 2011, the sale of donors’ unwanted items generated $4.4 billion in revenue, allowing us to provide 4.2 million people with employment and training services, and place 190,000 individuals into good jobs.
Since 2004, Goodwill and Dell have partnered on the Dell Reconnect program which offers consumers free recycling for any brand of used computer equipment at nearly 2,000 Goodwill locations. To date, the program has recycled more than 253 million pounds of equipment and currently reaches more than 60 million households in the United States and Canada.
— Jenni Baker, GII Online Content Program Manager.