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Recycling rumors

March 08, 2017   By Elizabeth Kress in Environmental Stewardship

Recycling is always a good idea for the environment and most times, your pocketbook too.

There is so much misinformation about recycling that it’s hard to know where to begin to educate folks.

Plastic, aluminum, glass, textiles, wood waste and organics each have their own story for processing and value. The scrap value can swing wildly as the markets change.

Santee Cooper has used wood waste, landfill gas and organics to produce electricity, so here’s hoping you’ll be interested in a blog on recycling of other materials and the circular economy as a whole.

In this blog, we explore the recycling of clothing, using local Goodwill as our specific and local example. I recently heard someone say, “You know, Goodwill throws out clothes they get that are out of season.” I tracked down Goodwill’s public relations manager, Kaley Briesmaster, to get the truth.

Goodwill accepts any clean clothing or textiles at all of its branches. At our local drive-through dropoff, the employee meets you and accepts your donation and gives you a receipt for taxes. The employees inspect and sort the items.

The saleable items are tagged with the week number and go right out on the floor for sale. Some items are set aside and held in storage for Christmas, Halloween or, for example, the annual prom event for seasonal sales. If the items are received and not merchantable (torn, dirty, worn, etc.), they are sold to salvage dealers who process them and turn them into other uses, like rags for cleaning.

Back to the good items on the floor: After five weeks on the floor, any remaining clothing items from that week are pulled and sent to the North Charleston outlet, where they are sold by the pound. If the clothing does not sell at North Charleston, it is sold to a salvage dealer.


None of Goodwill’s clothing ends up in the landfill and in 2015, it kept 24 million pounds of goods from going into the landfill. All of the donations and funds stay local. Ninety cents of every dollar helps with career counseling, job training and other employment-related programs. Last year, Goodwill placed 1,847 people into new jobs through these efforts.

Goodwill is an example of the circular economy at work. A circular economy is an industrial economy that promotes greater resource productivity aiming to reduce waste and avoid pollution by design or intention. Putting more folks to work by recycling items while training workers, and avoiding the landfill – that’s as circular as an economy can get!