Americans first recognized Earth Day on April 22, 1970. Fifty years later that particular springtime day helps remind us of our planet’s fragility — spurring us into action to change human behavior and provoke Earth-friendly policies.
Goodwill has shown its green side since 1916, before reusable totes and electric cars, and before environmental activism and global treaties on climate change.
For more than 100 years, Goodwill has been a pioneer of the eco-conscious movement. Its renowned drop-off centers have become models for “reuse, repurpose and recycle” — diverting almost 3 billion pounds of usable goods from landfills.
A disposable country
The average American discards about 68 pounds of used clothing per year. Along with household items, accessories, furniture, e-waste and more, our landfills have become landfulls. Clothing materials can take up to 50 years to decompose, while plastics and metals can take 100 years or more. With 15 percent of all garbage being made up of reusable items, it’s important for everyone to take stock before tossing the trash.
Did you know that Goodwill recycles electronic waste for free? Devices such as computers, cell phones or televisions contain hazardous chemicals and compounds found, including mercury, arsenic and lead. If not properly contained, these chemicals can seep into the ground or be released into the air or water supply. This poses some potentially serious health threats to the general public.
Help keep our planet from turning into an e-wasteland by donating anything with batteries or a plug. With multiple drop-off sites and home pick-up services, Goodwill Central Coast makes it easy for anyone to have an impact on their local economy and the environment.
The net benefit
Last year, Goodwill Central Coast received more than 437,000 donations, totaling more than 17 million pounds of clothing and household items. Of those donations we were able to divert 7,000 tons from our landfills and the money raised helped fund programs that put more than 13,000 people back to work.
And when you become the treasure hunter at any of our Goodwill stores, you help reduce carbon emissions significantly. The process of producing one new T-shirt involves pesticides to grow the cotton; use of thousands of gallons of gasoline to transport the raw materials to a manufacturing plant; chemicals, dyes and more energy used to create the garment; plastic and cardboard waste in packaging; and more carbon emissions to ship the garment to retailers.
So whether you’re a Prius-driving, tree-hugging vegetarian, or a bargain-hunting, vintage clothing fashionista (or maybe a little of both), we encourage you to do your part this Earth Day and help preserve our planet for the future.