Estate Sales and The Landfill Pipeline

First Stop: Goodwill Retail Stores

There are over 3,000 Goodwill stores nationwide.  When you drop off your donated items, workers will go through everything and make sure they’re usable, clean and non-toxic.  Things that make the cut are sorted and priced. If things don’t sell after about four weeks, they’re taken off the shelf and go into a big container and shipped to the next phase….

Goodwill Auctions

Containers full of unsold Goodwill items are shipped to national auction sites.  This is where online bidding occurs.   Anyone can bid on huge bins of misc. items going for as little as $35. Sometimes you don’t know what’s inside—it’s kind of like the television show “Storage Wars” but for donated clothes. Then, if things still don’t sell at auction they’re sent further down stream….

Textile Recycling Centers

There are recycling centers that specialize in clothing and secondary materials.  They will take your clothes where they will be resold.  Lots of fibers will be processed.  Soft fibers are used for furniture filling and home insulation.  Some is sent overseas to salvage dealers.  And as the last resort, if things don’t get reprocessed here or overseas, they are sent to…

Landfills

Evidence suggests that used home goods and furniture are taking up more and more room in our landfills.  Plastic especially is no longer welcome in recycling centers overseas.  Thankfully, only 5 percent of donated clothes are sent to landfills, but they contribute to the 12 million tons of U.S. textile waste that end up in landfills annually.