When we clean out our closets, move, are making way for new things, or are deciding which items in our lives “spark joy,” there is bound to become a donation bag.
It may be the giveaway pile or donate box, whatever you call it, it has to go somewhere.
The old books you’ve already read can be handed off to a friend looking for a new summer read, sold on Craigslist, or posted on the many Buy Nothing Project groups for someone else to enjoy.
More often than not though, with our busy lives, it becomes just too much work to try and find a new home for your items and coordinate a time to have it picked up. So the items get dropped off at a donation center because you want the stuff out of your house NOW.
Recently, I was asked which was a better place to donate your pre-loved items, Goodwill or Salvation Army? I didn’t have a clear answer, so obviously this became a good blog topic.
According to their mission statement, “The Salvation Army, an international movement, is an evangelical part of the universal Christian Church. Its message is based on the Bible. Its ministry is motivated by the love of God. Its mission is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and to meet human needs in His name without discrimination.”
They work to meet all sorts of human needs from helping disaster survivors and stopping domestic abuse, to combating addiction and assisting the unemployed. Learn more about what they do here.
Donating clothing and goods to The Salvation Army helps fund addiction rehabilitation programs. You can donate at their Family Stores and drop-off locations or schedule a free pickup. We had The Salvation Army come to pick up our couch once. It was nice that they could take care of that.
According to CNN, the Salvation Army spends 82% of donations on aid and you can check out Salvation Army’s sustainable development goals here.
Goodwill Industries International
Goodwill is a nonpartisan nonprofit organization whose mission is “to enhance the dignity and quality of life of individuals and families by strengthening communities, eliminating barriers to opportunity, and helping people in need reach their full potential through learning and the power of work.” They seek to help all job seekers and in 2017, Goodwill helped more than 288,000 people find employment.
Donating your items to Goodwill helps create job opportunities by funding job training and services and they also claim it keeps billions of pounds of textiles and clothing from meeting their end in the landfill. You can calculate the impact of your donation on their website which is pretty cool. For instance, if I donate 5 shirts, that provides 31 minutes of on-the-job training.
But is that what really happens? This Huffington Post article does a good job of explaining what happens to your clothes when you drop them off at Goodwill. In reality, after the good stuff has been picked out and the unusable has become rags, the rest gets shipped overseas. I was not able to find anything that directly explained what they did with stuff when it didn’t sell, but here is a blog about their sustainability initiative.
What’s the Verdict?
It is up to you! Both are keeping materials from the landfill and helping others in the process. I am sure there are parts of each that some may not agree with, but both are better options than tossing your clothes in the garbage. To avoid having to go through all your clothes and donating every few months, be conscious of your purchases and only buy what you actually need, buy secondhand, or attend a clothing swap.