On our journey to implement sustainability through the Pildora Boutique launching this July, we have come to truly appreciate secondhand clothing. By thrifting, you reuse garments that would otherwise end up in a landfill. On our last YouTube video, we did a vintage haul after shopping on Depop, one of our favorite secondhand shopping apps. This time, we explore Goodwill, the original thrifting mecca.

Goodwill has a rich history. It was founded over 100 years ago when a minister would collect household goods and clothing in wealthier areas of Boston. He trained and hired impoverished people, showing them how to mend and repair previously used goods.

Clothing donations via PR Newswire

At Goodwill in Brooklyn, we met with a variety of staff and leaders to learn more about the history of the organization and where it stands today. We ended our journey with a fun-filled thrifting experience because, well, we just couldn’t help ourselves.

We spoke with Lennox Thomas, the Executive Vice President of Retail at Goodwill of NYNJ to get a full understanding of what Goodwill is about. We wanted to know just what their view on sustainability was and how they are creating a positive impact.

What we learned from Lennox is that Goodwill is incredibly inclusive in its hiring process; it hires people from all walks of life looking to have dignity in their work, including the disabled community. In addition, Goodwill helps its local community where their stores are located by providing those with less money the opportunity to own quality clothing.

So what does Goodwill accept? According to Lennox, they take everything! From accessories to housewares to your ripped up shirt, they’ll take it. They send stained or torn items to other countries that can make use of them. Your trash may be someone else’s treasure!

There is a new section of Goodwill in some locations, including Brooklyn, which is called Curated. This was created by students at the Fashion Institute of Technology. Their goal was to reinvent Goodwill in a different way by selecting the highest quality and most stylish garments. This makes it easier for shoppers who don’t want to look through all of the racks.

After chatting with Lennox and hanging with the friendly staff, it was time to thrift! My friend Elena Korsharny (a master thrifter) and I went aisle by aisle, and I was surprised how many gems we found. We both came out of Goodwill having had a blast and with two fresh outfits at a very low price. Best of all, we were shopping sustainably. Elena gave us some very useful tips about buying used clothing:

  1. You can clean sneakers by putting them in the washing machine or having a shoemaker clean them.
  2. Look at the type of fabric to determine its quality and lifespan, particularly for dresses. For example, polyester is a lower-quality fabric than those garments with silk, chiffon, or velvet.
  3. Inspect the print or pattern of clothing to determine its quality as lower quality clothing is blurry rather than sharp.
  4. Check the color of the tags as they have 50% off certain items that are the ‘color of the week.’
  5. Most Goodwills have a dedicated day each week where all items marked 50% sale throughout the week become a dollar!

I was surprised at the amazing quality of the products at the Goodwill store. I noticed that the shoes were in almost perfect shape and for a fraction of the cost. I fell in love with a cactus crossbody bag that accurately represents my Texas roots from a designer in London and also left with a fluffy pink jacket that screamed Christina!

The biggest stigma revolving used clothing items is that they may be dirty, since you don’t know how the previous owner used them. Goodwill ensures that all clothes are clean before putting them on the racks. In fact, brand new items you find at fast fashion stores such as H&M, Zara, and Forever 21 are not as clean as you think. They come from factories in foreign countries that use toxic chemicals that are harmful to people and the environment. It is even recommended to wash before use as it is common to have a skin reaction to the clothing. Not to mention, the people who are making those clothes might not even be paid a fair living wage. I for one, would much rather shop consciously and clean.

Each year, Goodwill repurposes an average of 38 million pounds of usable goods. It is so important to donate usable items to Goodwill to support their mission. Everything from Goodwill comes with a story; with an array of all different kinds of clothing, you are sure to find something different that you love. You can bring a friend and have some fun too!

Thank you to Lennox and all the staff at the Goodwill in Brooklyn for having us. We had a blast hanging with you! Also, thanks to Elena for your thrifting tips, you’re a BOSS!