I shop at “the bins” or Goodwill’s outlet system. This is a mixture of new donations and leftovers from the retail stores that didn’t get sold. It’s like the “last stop” before the stuff gets bundled up for sale in the Global South.
I don’t buy that much – maybe 10 to 15 pounds at a time. When I pick, I pick up more than twice that, but try to toss back anything that won’t sell at a reasonable profit. For me, right now, that’s $3+ per item, but I’m trying to be more selective. That’s half, or more, of the pickings, that end up back in the piles.
Believe it or not, really good stuff ends up back in the bin. The most recent great product was a pair of jeans from Express. I thought they were nicer than Levi’s, and even better than some of the other expensive brands, but Express just isn’t popular for jeans. You can get them for around $10 on Ebay, and at the bins, probably a few dollars, because all the professional pickers leave it behind. The better pickers, who are making a living, leave behind some Banana Republic, Ann Taylor, Pendleton (!!!), Ben Sherman, and Geoffry Beene. I got an Adriano Goldschmeid, super expensive pants, as well as NYDJ and something else I forgot – not realizing small sizes take a while to sell. Nike, Reebok, and Adidas items don’t all get taken. H&M, Mossimo, George, Arrow, Van Heusen? I don’t think they get touched, except to shove it out of the way to find something cooler.
Before I was picking from the bins, my personal closet, for the most part, wasn’t good enough to be picked out of the bins.
The “bins” are named for the large blue trays that the company uses to put out the salable goods. Each is around 4 ft x 8 ft, or the size of a big sheet of plywood or wallboard. My typical “haul” is around 1/8 to 1/4 of a bin. There are at least 40 bins at the outlet. My haul is 0.3% of the waste that’s visible — and I don’t even know how many bins get circulated through the system throughout the day.
Even with dozens of people picking through the stuff, I think most of it stays in the flow of stuff exiting the country, or going into the waste-stream (which I hope has some recycling).
We absolutely are making a dent. Maybe it’s a bite or a “pretty big chunk”, but I don’t think it’s the majority of the stuff.