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Students help Goodwill reduce waste

May 6, 2015--In what is expected to be an ongoing, interdisciplinary effort, Goodwill has reached out to UD for ideas of creative and sustainable solutions to the problem of what to do with unsold textiles.

Goodwill Industries of Delaware and Delaware County relies on donations of clothing and household items to achieve its primary mission of creating jobs, but not all of those goods find buyers in the nonprofit organization’s retail stores.

In fact, Goodwill’s warehouse near New Castle, Delaware, contains 6-7 million pounds of unsold clothing at any given time — clothing that will end up packed into huge bundles and sold at a low per-pound price to companies that ship the bales overseas. International markets fluctuate widely, and every bulk sale is a financial hit for the organization, which works to improve the lives of people who have barriers to self-sufficiency.

“We’ve been dealing with this issue for years,” said Ted Sikorski, vice president for marketing and development at Goodwill Industries in Wilmington, Delaware. “The goal for us is to take what we currently have [in the warehouse] and find a way to use it to create jobs. Making money is good, but given a choice, we’d rather create jobs.” Now UD students have been asked to help.

The first phase of the partnership occurred this semester, when a class in the Department of Fashion and Apparel Studies came up with some proposals, which they presented to Sikorski and a group of business leaders who are members of the department’s Industry Advisory Board.