Goodwill is inherently environmentally friendly. When people donate their used goods to Goodwill, it keeps unwanted items out of landfills and prevents the production of unnecessary new materials.
“Recycling clothing is about as green as you can get,” said Chief Operating Officer Randy Parks.
But there’s much more happening at this agency with environmental protection in mind.
The 2012-2016 Strategic Plan (PDF) calls for Goodwill to “Expand the agency’s comprehensive recycling efforts; continue to identify and provide ‘greener’ services, with reduced consumption of material and natural resources, including paper, supplies, and fuel; incorporate LEED building principles into our new facilities where feasible.”
The agency is already seeing changes in this direction beginning with the construction of our stores themselves.
“We’ve changed how our buildings are designed,” Parks said. The Blair store was our first building to achieve LEED certification. LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, and it’s a third-party verification of the environmental friendliness of construction.
“Previously there was only one standard,” Parks said. “It didn’t matter if you were an office building or a retail space. More categories of LEED certification allows us to be more environmentally responsible.”
All of Goodwill’s previous stores have been built block-by-block; the Blair store was built with pre-cast and pre-insulated outside walls, and the new Gretna store will be as well.
“They’re better, they’re cheaper, and they can be built in the winter,” Parks said. The Blair store also has better insulation in the walls and roof and more efficient heating, ventilation and air conditioning.
And ironically, the Blair store’s sea of pavement will help it be greener.
“One thing that has helped is that as the cost of petroleum has gone up, it’s no longer cheaper to use asphalt over concrete for the parking lot,” Parks said. “Asphalt radiates more heat than concrete, and we can buy concrete locally, which helps the environment.”
The green story is the same inside the stores. Builders use paint with no fumes to improve air quality. Oriented strand board (OSB), composed of wood flakes that would otherwise be discarded, makes up many of the interior walls. Parks has also seen the move toward clustered mini-fluorescent lighting, which generates less heat and uses less electricity.
And something that is often overlooked in environmental friendliness is the fact that going green can save money.
The aforementioned energy efficiency will save Goodwill on utility bills. The polished concrete floors in the stores require significantly less maintenance – costing 25 to 50 cents a year per square foot versus $8 for tile. And polished concrete requires only water for cleaning – no toxic chemicals.
“I’m not an environmentally conscious guy – I’m not,” Parks said. “But seeing how it benefits the bottom line and benefits the community as a whole – I’m in! It’s the best thing for Goodwill, economically and environmentally.”
Goodwill’s greenness isn’t limited to construction. Ken Barker was recently promoted to Recycling Manager in order to oversee the agency’s recycling efforts, and this year’s output has been massive (see the sidebar for our recycling numbers). The Goodwill Going Green committee’s recycling bins continue to route materials out of regular trash receptacles and into more appropriate channels.
And earlier this month, Vice President of Human Resources Dave Pfeffer approached the marketing department about digitizing some of his department’s forms. He had noticed how much paper is used as a result of some routine work and was curious about ways to cut back on waste.
“The Personnel Action Form is what I would like to have available electronically at first,” Pfeffer said. “Then we can try and incorporate even more forms in our green, paperless initiative.”
These efforts to reduce Goodwill’s environmental footprint extend from agency-wide strategy to individual ideas. And each of these actions reduces waste and conserves resources, which ultimately frees up more to help serve the mission.
“It just makes sense,” Parks said.
This article was originally published in our November Clothes Line newsletter. You can download PDFs of the Clothes Line and other newsletters and publications here.
We'd also like to draw your attention to Goodwill's new Donate movement at donate.goodwill.org, where you can learn all about how your donations put people to work and have a positive impact on our environment.
as of May 1, 2013
CLOTHING & ACCESSORIES
Baled clothing: 1,600,612 lbs.
Shoes: 134,534 lbs.
Stuffed toys: 2,019 lbs.
Books: 41,941 lbs.
Purses and belts: 3,184 lbs.
Cell phones: 620 lbs.
2013 YTD total: 1,782,910 lbs.
DELL RECONNECT MATERIALS
Printers: 66,143 lbs.
CRT monitors: 84,223 lbs.
Keyboards: 16,108 lbs.
Plastic: 4,658 lbs.
Power: 5,856 lbs.
CPUs: 71,853 lbs.
LCD monitors & laptops: 18,177 lbs.
Wire: 6,341 lbs.
Misc.: 8,999 lbs.
Batteries: 3,120 lbs.
Motherboards: 618 lbs.
Media: 4,162 lbs.
Toner / Ink: 1,502 lbs.
2013 YTD total: 291,760 lbs.
OTHER RECYCLED ITEMS
Cardboard: 142,625 lbs.
Mixed paper: 12,641 lbs.
Plastic: 16,739 lbs.
2013 YTD total: 172,005 lbs.
NEW ITEMS THIS YEAR
Aluminum breakage: 3,480 lbs.
Low-grade wire: 2,942 lbs.
Aluminum cans: 100 lbs.
#2 copper wire: 2,266 lbs.
2013 YTD total: 8,788 lbs.