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Donations: A partnership of recycling and charity

Post by Patrick O'Callahan on June 28, 2010 at 7:49 pm |
June 28, 2010 6:25 pm

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

Give Goodwill Industries credit for a good idea: a “donate movement” that emphasizes the environmental dimensions of donating clothing and household goods.

The concept was announced Monday in Tacoma, where Goodwill Industries International has been holding an annual conference this week. Levi Strauss & Co. is helping get the campaign off the ground by tagging its clothing with advice on extending the life of garments and eventually passing them on instead of throwing them away.

It’s a matter of connecting the dots. Americans now routinely recycle glass, plastics and paper for the sake of the environment. Many – though not nearly enough – donate clothing, appliances, tools, etc., for the sake of people less fortunate than they are.

But the donation of clothing and other goods is also a form of recycling that can serve multiple worthy purposes. Goodwill Industries itself is a good example: It resells donations and uses the proceeds to teach job skills to people who have trouble supporting themselves. At the same time, it estimates that it diverts 2 billion pounds of discards from landfills each year.

Wasting anything – jeans, toasters, computer printers – is a habit we’d be well rid of. Each of them requires energy and natural resources to produce. It’s a shame when they wind up in landfills when they could benefit others and reduce the demand for new goods that also consume natural resources.

Given the abundance of nonprofit agencies and churches hungry for donations, there’s no reason to drop any “gently used” item in the garbage can. (Such agencies emphatically don’t need genuine garbage, though: It forces them to pay for disposal.)

Tacoma has an array of nonprofits that can put second-hand goods to excellent use.

In addition to Goodwill, there’s the Salvation Army and St. Vincent de Paul, which sell used goods to support their charitable missions. Washington Women Employment and Education provides women with job training – and the clothing they need to break into careers.

The Phoenix Housing Network, run by Catholic Community Services, also seeks work clothing, for both men and women. United Way of Pierce County’s Gifts in Kind program takes goods and connects them with nonprofit agencies that need them.

In Parkland and Spanaway, the Rainier View Christian Church and The Crossing Community Service accept donations.
So do the Community Center in the Tillicum and American Lake area and the Gig Harbor Peninsula FISH Food Bank in Gig Harbor. In Lakewood, Melanie’s Clothing Bank; in Puyallup, The Francis House; in Eatonville, the Eatonville Family Agency.

That’s only skimming the surface; many other organizations will happily recycle a dress or coat or power tool. Help others, help the planet: As the Goodwill campaign points out, it’s a nice overlap.

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