If you have been reading this blog, you know I pick up beach trash. One of the most wasteful and expensive items I pick up are towels, clothing, socks and shoes. During the summer, in a 1/2 mile, tide to towel line on the beach, it is not unusual to pick up 6 towels, 1 blanket, 20 shoes, and endless socks, add in hats, jackets, sweatshirts, pants, shorts, bathing suits, it easily adds up to 40 pounds of textiles per week. If I average 10 pounds of wasted textiles in a 1/2 stretch of beach= 520 pounds of waste every year that is either going into our oceans or landfills.
Normally, I pick them up, shake out as much sand as possible, bag and take to the Goodwill for textile recycling. Several months ago, I took about 40 pounds of textiles to the Goodwill for recycling as I have been doing for the last 2 years and they refused it.
This prompted a call to the Goodwill offices in San Diego and wow, a whole new lesson in Waste Management, Goodwill Style. I didn’t know this but each Goodwill ‘territory’ enacts recycling that are based upon the community needs. For instance, not all Goodwill’s recycle electronics, in an agricultural area, they might have worm farms. It really depends on the community and their needs. In San Diego, Goodwill, San Diego is a major recycler of electronics, textiles and they will even take my unpaired shoes.
I Just Gotta Eco Ya
- In 2013 Goodwill Industries of San Diego (GISD) diverted 9,776,271 lbs. of unsellable donations from the landfill (from their salvage operations alone, does not include items sold in their retail stores).
- In 2013 Goodwill San Diego, Document Destruction sent 2,947,695 lbs. of office paper and plastic for recycling.
- YTD (thru August) 2014, Goodwill San Diego diverted 7,211,832 lbs. of unsellable donations (not including the number of lbs. from Document Destruction) from the landfill from their salvage operations alone (does not include the volume of items sold in retail stores). Including items such as: Textiles (clothing & linens) Shoes-paired & unpaired, Accessories such as hats, purses and belts, Electronic devices, Cardboard, Plastic-including film & Styrofoam metal, mixed paper including books, newspaper, magazines (office paper is sent to their Document Destruction division)
- Goodwill has 49 Locations in San Diego.
- The population of San Diego is 3.177 Million.
Think about this: If this is the amount that Goodwill in San Diego does, think about the waste from AmVets, Salvation Army and the 400+ second-hand and thrift stores just in San Diego. Add in the numerous amounts that recyclable that people throw in the trash, the shoes and clothing laying in the street (we’ve all seen that), that means that each person gives, donates pounds of reusable stuff every year.
Not to get ahead of myself. The call to the Goodwill prompted a trip the the Goodwill After Market (who knew?), with their sustainability manager, April Andrews. I could spend 1,000’s of words and blog posts on Goodwill’s waste management or recycling efforts, because it was one of the most impressive operations I have ever seen. The amount of collecting, sorting, re-sorting and selling is amazing. They do everything thing they can to reuse, resell every single item that is donated to them.
Because Goodwill takes almost anything, even stuff like personal items such as lotions, soaps, shampoos to the San Diego Rescue Mission. They resonated unused artist supplies to Art FORMS, a local non-profit that operates the Rare Hare Art Studio. They do everything possible to eliminate waste and are actively involved in San Diego’s waste management programs, winning in 2013 Recycler of the Year and in 2014 Director’s Recycling Awards.
I met with April at the Rosecrans main office and our first stop was the Goodwill in San Ysidro. In this particular location, they not only have a Goodwill Resale Store that would rival any upscale clothing store, but this is the main store in which they gather textiles for either re-distribution to other locations, they run textile bin auctions, they have bins of shoes, purses.. The items are placing in large bins and hand sorted into pricing categories. If you want to be appalled at waste, take a visit to this site. I would hazard a guess that the amount of clothing could outfit a small country for years.
These bikes are like new.
Special boxes for Holidays- the bins are stacked high and jammed full of things like holiday decorations.
One of the many bins of purses only.
There are about 20 bins of shoes. Shoes are divided into several categories, included unpaired. These shoes are resold.
After every textile is sorted here, the leftovers go back into giant bins for another chance to resale. People go into the Goodwill and rummage through the bins to get really good deals.
Pricing for pickers.
What is not sold to pickers is replaced in the giant bins and put up for auction. Yes, they run auctions for textiles, a little like Storage Wars.
Most of these clothes are extremely wearable. Many are like new.
After that little trip we took a short drive to their huge warehouse in Otay Mesa. This warehouse/baler/auction site would rival any CostCo. Otay serves as a ‘hub’ for only 14 stores in San Diego. Electronics, furniture, appliances, clothing and more are gathered together for more resorting, auctions and baling.
Goodwill in partnership with Dell takes all electronics and either resells or mines for the metals. Again, each hard drive is erased and taken apart. I am shocked at the sheer amount of like new electronics. You want to know about our disposable society.. just go here.
When I saw their baler…. it was not only the waste, but I want to you think of this. 1.) Most of our clothing now comes from Asia, who knows the working conditions of the people. 2.) Cotton is a water hungry plant.. how much water does it take to make this clothing of which is disposed of. 3.) The amount of pesticides that are used in growing cotton contributes to our toxic environment. Goodwill bales about 18 Textile bales a day, each bale weighs about 1100 pounds.
The baler also crushes cardboard and mixed hard plastic. Each Cardboard weighs about 900 pounds and each Mixed plastic weighs about 1200 pounds each. They do 3-5 bales a day of each.
Legally they can’t resell baby seats, but they take them. Unfortunately nobody wants the baby seats in their Mixed Plastic. Although fortunately they have one buyer would will accept a couple (only a couple) of baby seats in their mixed plastic.
All the bins do get re-sorted and they have special re-purchase area for electronics, sports equipment and the like.
Again, they run more auctions in which furniture, appliances are resold separately and well as bins. I went through the furniture, some of this is good stuff. Unfortunately again, they cannot re-sell particle board furniture from places like IKEA and Target. They can’t even use for munch, due to the formaldehyde and glue. It’s toxic. What a waste and think about all that toxicity going into our landfills and our waste streams. It is very sad. What is even sadder that most people think price and buy cheap stuff that is disposable and ignore real wood.
Bins are assorted and will include everything including the kitchen sink!
It was quite a trip and I can’t believe that April took her time out of her day to show me around and introduce me to some of the staff. Goodwill does a great thing eliminating stuff from our landfills, keeping toxic waste out of our water and providing jobs from products that we just throw away without any consideration to our environment. Since this visit, I have referred several people to the After Market for electronics. I know, if I ever need furniture, Goodwill will be the place to go. Importantly for me personally, I have now found a place in which I can recycle the 1000 pairs of shoes I pick on the beach, the textiles, the broken chairs, umbrellas and other assorted plastics!
Kudos to them for this much needed resource and a special thank you to April Andrews and the people at at the Goodwill. All were exceedingly helpful and nice. So nice, I would want to work there!
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