If you are an avid thrifter like me, odds are you’ve shopped at a Goodwill or other large non-profit secondhand store like The Salvation Army. Aside from scoring vintage treasures and newer finds at excellent prices, shopping secondhand helps to extend the life of reusable items and prevents unnecessary waste from entering landfills. In 2021 in North America alone, Goodwill diverted about 4.6 billion pounds from local landfills – more than any other organization! On top of doing good for the planet, these organizations also do their part for people by offering life-changing community-based programming and services so giving to Goodwill donation centres is a great way to give back and make a difference in your community.
Goodwill, operates more than 3,200 retail stores that fund job training, career counselling, mentoring and employment placement services for youth, seniors, veterans, people with disabilities, and those who face barriers to employment. Shopping at Goodwill supports initiatives like Beyond Jobs, a program helping single mothers find jobs and create permanent financial stability for their families. Goodwill also has national mentoring programs like GoodGuides for youth at risk of dropping out of school.
The Salvation Army is at work in 128 countries, and its stores found in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand raise money for local initiatives like homeless shelters, food banks, school nutrition programs, after-school programs, summer camps for kids, adult day centers, women’s refuge centers and rehabilitation for those struggling with addiction. They also collect donations for a wide range of international humanitarian work that supports emergency relief efforts and development work in communities around the globe.
Give to Goodwill
Supporting these organizations by donating, shopping secondhand, and ensuring your items get another life by donating them just makes sense. Here are 5 things you can give to Goodwill donation centers today that will make the biggest difference.
Clothes: Perhaps you think this one goes without saying. But the reality is we buy 60% more clothes than we did 20 years ago, and in North America, a whopping 85 percent of those clothes eventually end up in a landfill. And with the rise of “fast fashion,” the fashion industry has become a top global polluter and source of greenhouse gas emissions. So today, more than ever, making sure you donate your clothes matters. What’s more, donated clothes that don’t sell are repurposed as soft fiber filling for furniture, car seats, carpet underpadding or home insulation.
Shoes: Did you know that, on average, most people throw away their sneakers every 5 to 6 months? In the US alone, 200 million pairs of shoes end up in landfills yearly. Donating shoes makes a big difference for people and the planet. For example, The Salvation Army provides shoe vouchers to those struggling financially. These vouchers help parents keep up with all shoes needed for their kid’s growing feet, are used to get warm winter boots, and also benefit those involved in employment training and job search programs.
Furniture: Although many are doing their part when it comes to donating and recycling smaller household items, these good habits are not translating to larger household items like furniture. For example, a 2019 UK study found that a third of adults throw away furniture that could be reused or recycled. Similarly, a 2021 Canadian survey found that, while 83% of people were likely to recycle small items, only 37% recycled their furniture. Just think of the second life your gently used furniture pieces might have. The Salvation Army has a program providing furniture vouchers to people transitioning from homelessness. For example, your gently used kitchen table might be where another family is fortunate to share their first meal in a new home. And, with stores like Habitat for Humanity offering free pickup of furniture donations, there is no excuse for hauling your furniture to the curb or the dump.
Linens: Just as your furniture can set the stage for a family starting out, your good-condition curtains, blankets, sheets and towels can bring much-needed warmth and comfort. If your linens are well-worn, try calling your local animal shelter, which may be able to use these items for bedding. Or reach out to your local recycling center to find out where to drop off fabric waste.
Kids’ Stuff: Donating your kid’s gently used toys and clothes will do much more than give these items a chance at a new life and benefit the kids who receive them. It’s also a powerful way to nurture children’s innate generosity while teaching them how giving can make positive changes in the world. Involving kids in the collection process and bringing them to drop items at a local donation center can be perfect opportunities to start conversations about what organizations like Goodwill do for the community and how your donations help fund essential programs. If your kids are hesitant to say goodbye to their items, you can craft a donation box to get them on board and use Goodwill’s A-B-C-D prioritization tool to help them decide what should stay and what can go.
Give Back to the Planet
Donating these items are just some of the ways you can give back to the planet while creating a ripple effect of giving that reverberates through entire communities. And buying secondhand advances sustainability even further by reducing the production of more things, reducing the amount of resources used, and the amount of pollution emitted.
So, head to your closet, basement, or attic today to see what you can donate and give to your local Goodwill today. Check 365give for more giving inspiration and ways to help our planet.
With a strong desire to give back and create change, Kelly values the opportunity to volunteer with 365give; to be a part of a global movement that aims to change the world through the act of daily giving. She appreciates the many ways that 365give inspires children, like her daughter, to make a difference by becoming changemakers too. Kelly feels fortunate to do her part as well, by inspiring and educating others how they can do theirs, one 365give blog post at a time.