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How Shopping at Goodwill Helps the Planet

“Cycle of good” -- it’s a tagline you may have seen at your neighborhood Goodwill. Right now, during Earth Week, it’s more relevant than ever. Our stores encourage a more sustainable, affordable method of shopping.

Instead of taking materials, manufacturing them into something new, and ultimately throwing the item away, Goodwill retail stores turn this linear system into a circle. This system of one person reducing by donating to Goodwill, another reusing with a purchase from our retail store and then recycling by donating other items back to Goodwill is the “cycle of good” in action. It keeps products in the circle—and out of the landfill.

Goodwill Cycle of Good

We know landfills accepting household trash are the third-largest source of human-related methane emissions in the United States (Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency). Those emissions are proven to have a harmful impact on warming temperatures globally. In the last year alone, Goodwill Southeast Georgia diverted 12.5 million pounds of items from landfills.

Not only does this make a positive impact on the planet-- it also makes a difference in 33 counties across Southeast Georgia and South Carolina. Every purchase from our retail store funds support services and skills training to help your neighbors reach their fullest potential. You can read more about this mission in action at our Statesboro Opportunity Center in a previous blog post here.

Best of all, items you find at Goodwill can help you continue efforts to protect the beautiful beaches, marshes, and hiking trails we have here across Southeast Georgia and the Lowcountry.

Here are 5 habits you can “green-light” this Earth Week with some help from your Goodwill finds:

1. Swap to biodegradable paper or stainless-steel reusable straws and cups.

Do you get drinks on the go? Disposable plastic straws may seem tiny and insignificant, but if you treat yourself to a slurp-able drink once a week, that’s 52 straws per year going into landfills. That one-time use may take up space on our planet for hundreds of years (or more)! They also can have toxic effects on wildlife and the planet.

You can turn your iced coffee or smoothie treat “green” by consuming less plastic. Bring a reusable cup and reusable or biodegradable straws. Reusable cups are easy to find at Goodwill Southeast Georgia. Look at the variety I found at our Eisenhower store in Savannah—all colors, shapes, and sizes!

reusable containers on a shelf

2. Add air-cleaning greenery to your home.

Certain plants can help to remove toxic chemicals and pollutants from airspace contributing to cleaner indoor air. And once you’re comfortable taking care of house plants, you can take your green thumb outdoors to do some gardening!

Try to get at least two plants per 100 square feet inside your home or office. Instead of buying new plastic planters, scope out the options at Goodwill that have already lived one life. I found plenty of unique options just waiting to be filled with some soil and plants. But don’t limit yourself to real planters! What second-hand items catch your eye that can be repurposed to pot plants? I know I found one in this cute fox—just waiting for some succulents!

ceramic fox container

3. Start a compost.

Instead of tossing your biodegradable scraps in the trash, look for a compost pail at Goodwill to start making your own healthy soil! If you have yard space, create a compost pile outside to build rich dirt from your waste material. Not only will this decrease the amount of trash you send to the landfills; it will also minimize your output of gases contributing to climate change. If you have limited outdoor space, there are compost pick-up and drop-off options available through Savannah Urban Garden Alliance and Code of Return Compost.

4. Make an earth-friendly travel utensil set.

You can create your own from thrifted fabric and silverware. Get in the habit of carrying it around so you’ll never need to grab plastic silverware when you’re eating on the go! Hey, you could even add your Earth-friendly straw!

5. Don't reach for the heat when you're cold!

Instead of cranking the thermostat up when you’re cold, throw on an extra layer. Just remember that not all layers are created equally; look for wool socks and sweaters or down vests. By changing this habit you’ll use fewer fossil fuels and create less pollution. You’ll also save money—win, win!

Goodwill has the layers you’re looking for at an affordable price. Right now, people are doing their spring cleaning which means they’re donating a lot of winter layers to make room for summer styles. I found these colorful sweaters and cozy three-quarter zip pullover at the Eisenhower Goodwill in Savannah.

Rack of colorful sweaters

Are you ready to "green-light" these steps?

Share how your Goodwill finds helped you complete this Earth Week challenge on social media!

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