Week 20: Goodwill

Among Trump’s proposed 31% cuts to EPA funding in his FY18 budget includes the elimination of the RCRA Waste Minimization and Recycling programs. The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) is the framework for the proper management of hazardous and non-hazardous solid waste. The EPA’s budget justification includes the statement, “State and local entities or industry groups may elect to continue work to reuse and recycle materials…The EPA will focus on core environmental work.” In 2013 alone, U.S. recycling reduced greenhouse gas emissions equal to the quantity produced by 39 million cars. Email your Senators and Representatives urging them to preserve the RCRA Waste Minimization and Recycling programs.

This week we donated to Goodwill Industries International, which placed 313,000 people in employment last year and provided online education and job training services to 34 million. Goodwill accepts many discards from residents that cannot go into curbside recycling bins in most cities such as clothing, sporting goods, kitchenware, appliances, and furniture. Goodwill goes to great lengths to repurpose donations; for example they try four different ways to divert a piece of clothing from landfill. First, they try to sell the garments in retail stores. After 4 weeks, items still unsold go to Goodwill outlets where they are sold by the pound. From the outlets, unsold textiles travel to auctions where attendees bid on bins of items without knowing the exact contents. The fourth stop is textile recyclers such as the members of the Secondary Materials and Recycled Textiles Association (SMART), who cut clothing into rags for industrial use or soft fiber filling for purposes such as insulating homes or filling furniture. Only 5% of items that eventually make it all the way to SMART are ultimately landfilled (primarily wet, moldy, or contaminated garments).

We have long been fans of Goodwill, donating clothing and items to their drop-off locations and shopping for gently-used items at their stores. However, it wasn’t until Allyn began pursuing a career in sustainability and waste reduction that we truly learned about all of the remarkable work that Goodwill Industries International does for our planet. We believe that the current administration’s insinuation that reusing and recycling materials is somehow not part of “core environmental work” is absolutely ludicrous. Diverting waste from landfills means much less greenhouse gases unnecessarily produced that contribute to rapid climate change; less toxins polluting our soil and groundwater; and less disposal of items that could have been given a new life and new use. We applaud the work that Goodwill does for our communities and Mother Earth—more vital now than ever before!