Earth Stewardship

As part of our stewardship of the Earth, The Salvation Army Thrift Store offers a unique way to serve through retail and recycling by helping to divert waste from landfills. Here are some frequently asked questions on how donating to us is making a difference for not only our neighbours in need but the planet we share.

Each year over 80 billion items of clothing are produced worldwide with over 26 billion items sent to the landfill or to be incinerated. Donating to The Salvation Army Thrift Store lessens the impact on our environment while raising millions annually to support Salvation Army programs, services and emergency relief efforts. We aim to refresh, recycle and restyle through our Thrift Stores most items donated to us.

Once received, donated items are sorted and reviewed by our production teams to give them the best chance of a second life through retail and recycling. Items deemed saleable make their way on to the sales floor to be sold as Fab Finds at affordable prices to raise funds for local Salvation Army programs and services. Items not sold in store are transformed by local recyclers into industrial rags, insulation material, scrap metal to be used for cars, computers and other limitless possibilities.

We recycle and divert from local landfills through our Donor Welcome Centres (DWCs), which are donation drop off areas, located in over 100 of our Thrift Stores. Our DWCs are open daily with a donation attendant on hand to assist donors. Donations not sold in-store or given to those in need are sorted and sold for recycling through 10 Distribution and Recycling Centres (DRCs) nationally. 

Diversion refers to the deterrence of items from local landfills or waste sites. These items are instead refreshed, recycled and restyled through our over 100 Thrift Stores and 10 Distribution Recycling Centres. 

In fiscal year 2018-2019 The Salvation Army Thrift Store diverted over 82 million pounds from local landfills.

Along with textiles and clothing, The Salvation Army Thrift Store recycles over 7 million pounds of items such as books, purses, belts, shoes, toys, hats, metal, cardboard, pulp and electronics.

Diverting textiles to The Salvation Army Thrift Store benefits the environment extending their life by reducing the over production of consumer good and slowing textiles going to landfill. It also benefits those in need locally, and provides guests with the opportunity to shop for items they could otherwise not afford.

The diversion of textiles by reputable charities such as The Salvation Army Thrift Store for resale is a necessary first step in achieving the goal of a circular economy for textiles. While resale of used textiles by reputable charities extends their life, ultimately, ‘end of life’ solutions for textiles must be found by all stakeholders in environmental sustainability. 

We accept all post-consumer textiles (such as clothing, linens, bedding) that are saleable in store or that can be recycled if they are too worn, missing a piece or torn. We cannot accept textiles that are wet or contaminated.

The Salvation Army Thrift Store does not export textiles or other donated items. Donated items that cannot be sold in store are sold to ethically reliable local/domestic recyclers. These recyclers depending on market demand will sell within and beyond North American borders.

There is a large market demand internationally for textiles as 70% of the world’s population relies on second market clothing.  In Western countries, used and pre-owned clothes occupy a niche market, while in developing nations second-hand clothing imported from the west, are a staple source of clothing.

As part of a national charitable organization, funds generated support our Thrift Stores and the mission of The Salvation Army in Canada. In fiscal year 2018-2019 The Salvation Army Thrift Store gave over $6.2 million of items free-of-cost and raised almost $760,000 through our GoodWorks@Work® initiatives to support Salvation Army programs and services.