I love Goodwill, but we let it enable our wasteful choices

January 22, 2021 by Joshua
in Nature, Tips

If you’re going to buy clothes, I recommend shopping at thrift stores, but I think most people use them for selfish, nefarious purposes.

There’s a Goodwill between me and Washington Square Park and another on 14th Street I pass on the way to and from Union Square. I consistently see lines for people donating to them. Sometimes trucks deliver truck-fulls of stuff to sell.

That is, people drop off tons of stuff. I’m pretty sure a lot of them think they’re helping people in need. I’m pretty sure Americans could “donate” about 90% less and still provide all the thrift shop needs for everyone. I think most stuff they receive never sells and probably ends up in landfills.

I get that perspective from seeing how much they receive—seeing lines to donate longer than lines to buy.

The nefarious purposes

I bet people think of thrift stores two main times. First, when buying things, mostly unnecessary, they tell themselves they’ll eventually donate it to a thrift shop. A nice gesture if Goodwill weren’t overflowing. Instead its existence enables addicts to buy more junk, vainly wishing that feeding their addiction will decrease it. It increases it. Most of that stuff ends up in landfills.

Second, when about to throw something away. Just when they could learn a lesson to stop extracting and wasting, their addiction speaks and makes them feel altruistic, mistakenly thinking their contribution won’t likely go to a landfill.

What to do instead

I don’t condemn Goodwill. On the contrary, I recommend shopping there before a regular store. Just, when buying something, consider whatever you buy likely to end up in a landfill. Do you need it? Given the ratio of floor space for women’s clothes versus men’s, I recommend women asking especially.

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