Summer is waning – by calendar, if not by temperature – and that means one thing: School will soon be back in session.
While kids sigh in disappointment at the prospect of being stuck in class five days a week, busy parents nationwide are sighing in relief.
But before you head out to the nearest supercenter with kids in tow, I’d like to remind you that thrift shopping can be a great solution to your school supply list.
Visiting your local Goodwill instead of a retailer comes with a slew of benefits for you, your family and your community – including some that may surprise you.
1. You’ll save money. You knew this was coming. American families spent $27,500,000,000 on back-to-school supplies for their kids in K-12 last year. On average, that’s close to $685 per household. By thrift shopping, you can find lightly used clothes, shoes, dorm décor, pens, colored pencils, classroom supplies and more at a steep discount from big-box retailers.
2. It’s better for the environment. Here’s something they don’t tell you when you hit the stores for back-to-school deals: The apparel industry is a big contributor to pollution and waste. Plus, a lot of those clothes (and backpacks, pencil cases and laptop bags) wind up in a landfill after a short period of use. By shopping at Goodwill, you’re helping to divert more than 3 billion pounds of clothing and household goods from landfills every year and saying “no” to companies that harm the earth.
3. You get to be the fun parent. Thanks to the lower price tag, you can get some extra goodies for your kids without feeling the pressure of having to balance a budget. Books, toys, DVDs, puzzles, and games are easy to find in like-new condition at Goodwill, which will help cheer up your kids about the imminent end of their summer vacation.
4. You’re creating jobs. Part of Goodwill’s mission as a nonprofit is to help people overcome barriers to employment, and that goes way beyond the smiling cashier you see at the register. Proceeds from sales go to staffing agencies, job placement counselors, language classes and vocational therapy. Thanks to Goodwill, Floridians facing barriers to employment can find dignity, purpose, and independence through steady work.
5. You’re supporting local kids. Goodwill helps at-risk youth in Central Florida by connecting them with trusted adult mentors. Its outreach program, Project COMPASS, is designed to keep kids on the path to academic success and help them transition into productive careers – an especially good cause during back-to-school season.
6. You’re sharing your values with your children. Kids have a selective memory, as many an exasperated parent knows. But one thing they’ll always remember is the example you set for them. It’s great to talk to your family about the importance of sustainability and charity, but the lesson is more likely to stick if you follow through with action.
Instead of joining the rest of America in store aisles this August, head to your local Goodwill. You’ll find bargains on back-to-school supplies as well as household goods, and you can feel good about where your money is going.
Kim Praniewicz is senior director of marketing and communications for Goodwill Industries of Central Florida. The nonprofit has 29 retail locations across Osceola, Orange, Seminole, Lake, Brevard and Volusia counties.