Monday, December 8, 2008

MakeGood Program

Goodwill Industries of Central Texas stores receive a constant flow of donated goods everyday that hold much more potential than what customers see on the mere shelves and racks. There are great everyday recycling efforts occurring within Goodwill already; however, there is a lack of in-store attention to recycling initiatives. By implementing the MakeGood program, Goodwill can become the quintessential go-to place to rummage for Do-It-Yourself project materials, while enhancing its image to become the source of sustainable creativity.

Several programs and events specifically created to promote recycling already exist within Goodwill Industries. A highly successful roundup was the annual Weigh Good Donation Drive. This event encouraged the community to recycle their unwanted spring cleaning items, and donate them to Goodwill instead of trashing them and consequently increasing the landfill. Goodwill also works in conjunction with electronic recycling programs, such as RECONNECT and MRM, in addition to operating their own Computer Works Recycling Program at the Headquarters. All these initiatives strive to expand the recycling movement in Texas by offering consumers convenient drop-off locations for free electronics product recycling. The programs all save 250 tons of electronic waste from heading to the landfill each month.

Goodwill has great dedication to recycling within its own system, but that is not reflected in the retail stores themselves. Twenty percent of all donations still end up in the landfill, despite all the recycling efforts. This actually hurts Goodwill, since they have to pay for unsold goods to be taken away to the landfill. All the donated goods are not used to their full potential. To reduce the amount of waste that ends up in the landfill while only using or reusing resources and assets that already exists at Goodwill, the plan is to enhance Goodwill’s image to become the source of sustainable creativity.

The current perception of Goodwill is that it only sells used, cheap, and old donated items. One Goodwill shopper said the items “were a bunch of junkie stuff.” Some people only shop there for seasonal items, mainly for Halloween costumes. With various project ideas, there would be a bigger appeal to frequently return to Goodwill to browse for new materials. Not a popular choice for gift-shopping, Goodwill items could be used to create unique and meaningful gifts instead. Since all items are from donations, no one is bound to get the same thing, and individuality prevails—a highly appealing notion to Austinites. There is currently a substantial wave of recycling euphoria, highly prevalent in the artsy and green Austin area. The Goodwill selection is seen as boring and uninteresting, but with inspirational DIY projects displayed around the store, Goodwill could enhance its image to become a fun and resourceful place to find unique materials. One shopper that UT Design student Nancy Guevara interviewed believes that Goodwill “should be about the shopping experience, helping the community and environment, and having fun.”

There are many people interested in DIY projects, as evidenced by many websites, publications, and events dedicated to the DIY mantra. As the green movement and recycling rises in popularity, there has been a boom in the DIY community, which is evidenced in resources such as,,,, and the annual MakerFaire event. The websites are documentation platforms for the DIY community to share, collaborate, and learn from each other. The MakerFaire event is all about celebrating arts, crafts, engineering, science and DIY projects. The festivities include hands-on workshops, project exhibitions, craft booths, demonstrations and competitions. It is important to see how this DIY subculture fits into the MakeGood interest of Goodwill. Many DIY resources suggest thrift stores, sometimes specifically Goodwill, as the place to look for used goods and materials to use in trash-to-treasure projects.

Introducing the DIY mindset to Goodwill stores, the target audiences would be do-it-yourselfers, hip youngsters, and housewives. The younger crowd, supporters of individuality and vintage shopping, is innovative, frugal, and active in the green recycling movement. The housewives are women who browse and shop around Goodwill as a hobby during their spare time. The addition of the project posters could lure in a more diverse crowd who shops at Goodwill in a new and different perspective.

Goodwill can become the inspirational go-to place to find exclusive materials for DIY projects. The aisle display posters can introduce the DIY mindset on-site in stores to customers who never might have considered reusing or remaking used items. The projects offer a great opportunity to reactivate used goods to save them from the landfill. Instead of trashing torn and old books, they can be remade into book handbags or a hollowed book safe. Vases could turn into one-of-a-kind lamps, and old t-shirts can turn into tote bags. Even coffee mugs can be transformed into speakers with a couple materials around the store. Merely browsing around a Goodwill store will spark much imagination for innovation, and the project displays around the store will help instigate a sustainable creativity mindset. The MakeGood program presents a way to utilize the underrepresented and inefficiently used resources that already exists at Goodwill, and puts them to a better use.

The in-store displays at Goodwill will primarily be located at the aisle ends, where the vertical grid metal frames are situated. The 18" × 24" project posters will replace the outfits that arbitrarily hang off the frame rack. On the poster will be an instruction pad with detachable sheets, relevant to the location of the poster. For example, the poster for the book handbag would be located in the jeans and books aisle (conveniently located adjacently in the North Lamar location), while the poster for the vase lamp would be located on a portion of the shelf in a house wares aisle. The poster and instruction pad would both include information about the Goodwill mission statement and an invitation to visit and contribute to the MakeGood website. An actual finished sample of the project would be included with the poster, hanging from the rod, or sitting on a custom shelf with the poster displayed behind it. A separate poster, with minor adjustments, will be displayed at the Blue Hanger Outlet, which contains a different customer base and drastically different visual layout. Instead of the instructions pad in the center, there will be a list of DIY projects, such as a book handbag, record clock, mug speakers, and vase lamp. Because of the absence of aisles and racks, projects cannot be physically displayed in the store. Therefore, a list of project ideas would be equally inspiring and effective.

The MakeGood blog website will include a compilation of all the project instructions and tips, with feature projects on the home page. It incorporates the blogging element that is crucial to DIY sites. It will provide a place for fellow Do-It-Yourselfers to discuss and share project ideas, as well as to promote the new Goodwill image for sustainable creativity. Members can participate in the forum to find creative new applications to use everyday Goodwill items. presents a broad spectrum of various DIY projects, but focuses primarily in the Goodwill interest. It allows many opportunities to advertise and promote Goodwill, as well as further spread the mission statement.

The MakeGood program carries some considerations that need to be taken into account. The main consideration is the visual store layout. The layout of each store is determined by the individual managers, and this causes layout discrepancies. Although every Goodwill retail store contains the basic item categories (Womens, Mens, Childrens, Books, Housewares, Furniture), it is up to the store manager to decide on the location of the poster, and how many goods that would be relocated or removed for this space. In addition, a turnover time would need to be agreed upon, to decide how long each project would remain displayed in the store. With the in-house graphic designers at the Headquarters already busily occupied, skilled volunteers or MakerFaire artists could contribute ideas for the project designs. They would be responsible for pitching new project ideas on a set schedule and creating the actual project samples for the store. Another consideration would be finding a webmaster for the website. A volunteer with basic web skills could be in charge of this position, updating blogs and maintaining the site.
Costs for the implementation of the MakeGood program would be very minimal. Conveniently, there is already a printer located at the Goodwill Headquarters, where all the posters and instruction pads could be printed and distributed. The posters were modularly designed, so every time a new project is displayed in-store, only the instruction pad would need to be replaced. The sample projects would not cost Goodwill anything, since all the materials come from the donations within each retail store itself.

Many opportunities for future expansion exist with the MakeGood program, beginning with MakerFaire event participation. With all this creativity surrounding Goodwill, the MakerFaire event would be highly appropriate for the customers’ projects to be displayed at a booth. This would directly reach a large audience of people specifically interested in DIY creations, and could easily gear people towards shopping at Goodwill for unique material finds. Bilingual poster displays are also in consideration, with the addition of Spanish posters. The large display posters would have an English and Spanish one adjacent to each other, while the instruction pads would have English on the front and Spanish on the back. Bilingual signage already exists at Goodwill retail stores, so bilingual poster displays would appeal to more shoppers. Catching up to the DIY online community, video how-to’s for the projects would be uploaded to Actually seeing a project being made step-by-step inspires Do-It-Yourselfers to go out and create their own. Future expansion can also be seen in DIY workshops taking place in each retail store. Goodwill’s existing Do Good volunteer program already includes a wide assortment of positions (interns, display designers, educators, researchers, etc.), so there are clearly plenty of volunteers in the community with the appropriate skills who would be willing to become involved with the MakeGood program. The workshops would be a great opportunity to inspire customers to reuse goods, and also further advertise the poster displays and the DIY recycling movement.

With all of Goodwill’s dedicated recycling efforts and initiatives, the addition of the MakeGood program would further benefit both the environment and Goodwill Industries of Central Texas. Used items are prevented from ending up at the landfill, Goodwill receives revenue to further promote their mission statement, and the green recycling movement spreads within the community. Do-It-Yourselfers can promote Goodwill as the go-to place for great material finds, transforming the Goodwill shopping experience. The MakeGood program will enhance Goodwill’s image to become the source of sustainable creativity.

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