OCSC Learns of Goodwill of Orange County’s Sustainable Practices

On Monday, July 29, the Orange County Sustainability Collaborative Staff, Interns, and friends took a tour of Goodwill of Orange County Headquarters in Santa Ana, Calif. The tour started with a very informational overview of Goodwill’s strong mission, sustainable ways, and impact on the community. Opened in 1924, Goodwill of Orange County has been in charge of collecting and selling donations around Orange County, and helping the community as it sees fit.

Boasting a mere 8% of the items and goods that they receive through donations and collections going into landfills, Goodwill has developed a phenomenal and praise-worthy system for reusing and recycling materials. It starts, as they showed during the tour, at the donation centers where donations are sorted and priced, or disassembled and properly recycled.

Any clothing that is gently used, does not have holes, tears, or stains are tagged with the color of the week to be sold in Goodwill Stores. Damaged clothing, along with donated pillows and underwear, are bundled and sold by the bale to recyclers. The color-coded tags help determine the age–or how long an item has been out in the store. If an item is not sold in four to five weeks, Goodwill tries to sell it for half the original price. If the item still does not sell in cycle, it is placed at the Goodwill Marketplace, where buyers can pick and choose clothing and buy it by the pound. The final step in this process is the baling of the clothing and other textiles, to be sold to companies that can repurpose the materials.

Branded clothing and higher-end goods are auctioned off or placed on the Goodwill online store. Non-perishable food donation, although not sold in Goodwill stores, are accepted and delivered to Second Harvest Food Bank in Orange County. A nation-wide collaboration with Target stores allows returned and off-season clothing and goods to be donated to and sold at the Goodwill stores. Goodwill’s services, however, extend farther than just dealing with the donations they receive.

By creating partnerships with local companies, Goodwill is able to provide employment opportunities for citizens with barriers that would otherwise not have stood a chance in the employment field. These are people with learning or communications disabilities or even language barriers that are given employment opportunities. Goodwill partners with companies– like Cox Communications and Dave & Busters–and provides simple services like packaging, that any worker can do.

Yet, “the store is just the tip of the iceberg,” said Community Development Team member Sam Gookin. In their strong commitment to helping out the community, Goodwill doesn’t just aid people with barriers acquire jobs. Goodwill provides other services that will get them on the path to independence. From a fitness center that is completely accessible, to classes that develop and improve communication skills, and even training programs for certain vocations, Goodwill covers a wide spectrum of facilities and services for members of the community with disabilities and barriers. Goodwill of Orange County aids members of the community in every step of the way: in caring for themselves, in educating and training for special skills, and acquiring and securing jobs.

With sustainable methods and over 1,000 employees, it is clear that Goodwill’s mission to make an impact on community is well on its way, if not already achieved. Yet, every day, Goodwill and its employees are finding better ways to improve the community.