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What happens to unsold items at Goodwill?

Goodwill Alberta is dedicated to keeping items out of the landfill. Therefore, all unsold items at Goodwill are shipped to other locations, stores or businesses to be sold, recycled or upcycled. 

For example, any donated item that is not sold at a Goodwill thrift shop is first taken to a Goodwill outlet. If the item can’t be sold at the outlet at a discounted price, it is given a second life through the Goodwill Reuse and Recycling Program. In this case, the item is sent to a textile recycler or another company that can transform it into new materials for alternative uses.

What does Goodwill do with clothes they can’t sell?

When Goodwill can’t sell donated clothes, they use various alternative options to keep the clothes from reaching the landfill. 

Luckily, clothing is easy to recycle or upcycle. If Goodwill can’t sell clothing donations in-store, on its online thrift store or at a Goodwill outlet, the clothes are often sold to a textile recycler or other salvage vendor.

These recyclers use the unsold clothing in various ways. For example, it may be cut up and used for different purposes or processed and recycled into a fibre filling for use in furniture or insulation. With the help of these alternative methods, Goodwill is able to keep millions of pounds of usable goods from reaching the landfill each year.

How much clothing does Goodwill throw away?

Most clothing and other donated items are successfully sold in Goodwill stores across Alberta, and internationally. With the help of other methods of selling and recycling, very little, if any, unsold clothing and other goods are thrown away.

To help keep clothing, household items and other used goods out of the landfill, Goodwill partners with local organizations to find alternative solutions. For example, Goodwill Alberta has a partnership with the University of Alberta that allows them to give clothing and household items left behind at residences a second chance.

As a result of being able to sell, recycle or upcycle nearly everything that is donated to them, Goodwill helps communities across the world minimize their environmental footprint. Goodwill’s sustainability practices diverted nearly 16 million kilograms of waste from landfills in 2019 alone!

Is Goodwill Eco-Friendly?

Goodwill is an eco-friendly organization that undertakes numerous environmental initiatives. 

First and foremost, Goodwill’s core business model helps to keep millions of kilograms of waste from reaching landfills each year. To do so, Goodwill accepts donations of used clothing and other household items which it sells to raise funds to support its mission of helping individuals with disabilities in Alberta, and across the world.

In addition to encouraging people to recycle their used items through donation, Goodwill focuses on reducing energy consumption from their operations. For example, Goodwill thrift stores use energy-efficient lighting and appliances and Goodwill Industries offsets energy use with renewable energy certificates. As a result of eco-friendly initiatives, Goodwills across the globe have won eco awards for environmental leadership.

I'm curious. Does thrifting actually help the environment?

Thrifting helps the environment significantly.

Both donating to Goodwill and buying used clothes and other items help to keep these goods from going to landfills. This results in less landfill waste and reduced pollution. Therefore, thrifting with Goodwill means you are helping to reduce your community’s environmental footprint.

At the same time as helping the environment, donating and buying used goods at Goodwill helps people in your community with disabilities. Goodwill Alberta employs Albertans with disabilities and uses funds from its sales to support its mission. In fact, 89.2% of all revenues are used to help support this mission of helping Albertans with disabilities gain employment.

What we do: I would like to learn more about Goodwill and what you do.

Want to learn more about Goodwill? Our website is the best place to explore more about Goodwill. If you have questions about the organization, please contact us.

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