The Donation Cycle


One of the main reasons why I love to thrift shop is because of the recycling aspect. Just to think of the life my clothes have after I donate them, or the fact that I’m able to bring an item from the 1980s back to life is actually quite fascinating. By donating and shopping at Goodwill Akron, I feel good about supporting the whole idea of reducing the amount of clothing we produce, reusing something that’s in perfectly good condition, and recycling clothing into something completely new.

We get a lot of inquiries at the thrifting 101 workshop that we teach at Goodwill Akron stores. We hear things like, “what happens to my donations?” “does Goodwill accept my damaged clothes?” “what happens to the stuff that doesn’t sell?

These are legitimate questions, of which I was curious about myself, so I turned to the Goodwill Akron team for answers. So here it goes in three simple steps:

Step 1. Your trash, my treasure! 

After you clean out your closet and bag all of your clothes and drop them off at a Goodwill Akron donation site, the clothes get sorted to hit the retail store racks. This is when your donated item becomes someone else’s treasure.





If you’ve ever wondered what to do with a sweatshirt with a bleach stain or a pair of shoes that you feel guilty throwing away but know aren’t really wearable,  don’t fear. You can put them in a separate bag and mark them “salvage.” That way Goodwill employees know to send that bag to a different processing area for recycling.

Step 2. The outlet store

If the item doesn’t sell at a regular Goodwill retail store,  it goes to the Akron Outlet Store located at 1400 S. Arlington Street. Here, items are placed in massive bins and sold by the pound. This is great for families or even crafters. The DIY possibilities are endless at the Outlet Store; you can buy textiles and fabrics to create many things. If you’ve never been to the Outlet Store, it’s worth the experience!




Step 3. A whole new life: Salvage and recyclables 

If the item doesn’t sell at the outlet store, it goes into the salvage stream. This is where things really take on a new life. Instead of going into a landfill, salvaged items can be recycled into rugs, textiles, and many other things. Keep these items in as you clean out your closets: belts, hats, stuffed animals, shoes, books, purses, metals, and computers. Consider donating those items to salvage, even if they are slightly damaged.




I think the majority of us don’t think twice about the donation process. We bag it up, drop it off, and feel relieved to not have to think about that item gathering dust in our homes. I find it to be quite reassuring that my blouse or purse can take on a whole new life after I donate it to Goodwill, be it with a new owner or in the salvage stream to transform itself into something new.


For more information, view Goodwill of Akron’s virtual tour.

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