Western, Goodwill may expand clever collection push
By Paul Mayne
July 10, 2013
Goodwill can’t wait until Western students move out each April.
Oh no, it’s not what you think. It’s actually one of the organization’s biggest donation times, thanks to a new partnership with the university. And due to its spring success, the relationship may extend to a year-round effort for the benefit of the community and environment.
With the mass exodus of thousands of students each year, the clothing, shoes, accessories and kitchen items, otherwise bound for the dumpsters, are discovering a second life in the community – fitting the Goodwill Not Landfill motto to a tee.
“We’ve used others (groups) over the year, but some of them had been for-profit groups,” said Peggy Wakabayashi, director of residences at Western. “What we learned upon meeting with Goodwill was their wider range of services for the local community and, of course, their non-profit status.”
Wakabayashi, along with Joe Major, manager of front desk operations, worked with all the residences to get the message out in the weeks leading up to the last days of classes and following final exams.
And the message was heard loud and clear.
More than 196 large bins were collected, equivalent to more than 1,000 donations.
“I would never have dreamed that we would have filled that many,” Wakabayashi said. While this fits perfectly into the university’s sustainability efforts, it goes a step further, she added.
“They (students) did the purging themselves and really did a wonderful job. We talked about not only sustainability and keeping it out of landfills, but social sustainability as well, because it does go to Goodwill, which is used by lots of people in the community, and not just those with lower income.”
Major added partnering with Goodwill was a no-brainer.
“For us, we’ve always noticed we had all this stuff that was going to be left in our residence halls anyway, no matter what we said or did,” he said. “So we tried to find a better way to use this stuff. You see all the stuff that was ending up in bags or on curbs when students left; that’s how we got into the business of finding a better way to recycle.”
Lissa Foster, Goodwill Industries (Ontario Great Lakes) vice-president of marketing and advancement, could not be more thrilled to be part of a partnership with such excitement behind it.
“In our industry, we know one of the most influencing factors in choosing to donate, rather than throw away, is convenience. We knew it would be very important to have donation bins in every residence to maximize student participation,” Foster said.
With the excellent response of the students, she added it’s proof there is growing enthusiasm for diversion from landfill, particularly among Canada’s youth.
“I believe that as awareness of the partnership grows, involvement will grow with it,” Foster said. “We hope the increased awareness about environmental options, such as diverting from landfill by donating to Goodwill, will influence students’ decisions all year long and they will more frequently choose to donate rather than throw away.”
While the partnership is young, there is already talk of possibly expanding the program at some point to include staff and faculty.
“We would love to grow our relationship with Western beyond the campus-wide move out drive,” Foster said. “Faculty and employees are all potential donors and we’d love to host a similar on-site donation drive. The post-holiday ‘closet clean out,’ to make room for new items, is a great time to be thinking about donating used goods and not throwing them away.”
“We’d love to see it happen,” she said. “Perhaps a challenge between buildings. It doesn’t cost anyone anything.”
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