Stewarding Your Donations Through Recycling

With a spent Pepsi can in hand, a customer asked, “Do you recycle?”  I quickly responded, “You have no idea.  Yes, we recycle.  I won’t say we have a recycling program; it’s more that we are a recycling program.  Every donation that comes through the door goes through a recycling process.”

All thrift stores recycle to some extent.  Thrift stores give used items a second chance.  Salt & Light is all about this.  We make every effort to move your donations to our sales floor so that someone who needs it has a second chance to get it. 

Honestly though, not every item will make it to the floor.  Donated items compete for limited space.  The best items make it because our customers demand it.  If an unusable item does make it to the floor, it will be rejected by our customers…and eventually pulled from the shelves by our staff.  We have a second secondary route for the following items:    

  • Metal
  • Cardboard
  • Books
  • Purses/belts
  • Household decorations
  • Kitchen Items
  • Clothing
  • Linens

Even if these items can’t be used here, many places around the world can use them for a variety of reasons.  Metal and cardboard can be molded into something else.  Wearables, linens, household items are shipped overseas to be worn or used.  It’s good for our environment, our employees and participants, and makes a more complete use of your donations.

Recycling reduces what we send to the landfill. 

Garbage is a real expense for Salt & Light.  Even with our massive recycling program we spend thousands every month to throw away items that can not be used or recycled.  This has an impact to the ministry.  Dollars spent on garbage removal cannot be spent on education or credit to purchase food. 

Salt & Light redirects 200,000 pounds a month away from the landfill.  That’s over 300 thirty-yard dumpsters a year!  Not only does this have a positive impact on our our environment, but it also saves us over $39,000 a year.

Recycling allows Salt & Light to maximize your donation in this community.

Yes, recycled items are used elsewhere.  I believe that’s a good thing.  We also see a huge benefit here because in addition to cost savings listed above, we generate a substantial income from our recycling program.  These dollars help fund our ministry and keep the lights on.  It is safe to say that Salt & Light would not be able to exist as it does today without these funds.   

Recycling creates jobs.

Geoff Mulgan said, “Recycling is an area where jobs could be created at low cost.  Green collar workers.  That’s not very sexy.”  It’s true on all fronts.  You don’t see it when you walk into the store, or hear a lot about it when we do speaking engagements, but simply operating a recycling a program is beneficial. 

Over 80 staff hours a week are required to run our recycling program.  This does not include the dozens of volunteers who are earning credit, fulfilling their service commitments or simply volunteering their time. This is real income generated that didn’t exist before we expanded.  Your donations create recycling jobs. 

I took the customer’s Pepsi can.  I walked it off the sales floor and in to our back processing area.  I placed it in one of our two 40 yard metal dumpsters.  A metal dumpster that had replaced a plastic tote that we used to collect metal hangers just 4 years ago.  So yes, we recycle.  And it continues to grow.

Thank you for your donations.  We promise to be a good steward of it. 

Volunteer Spotlight – Chris Harrison

Chris has been volunteering at Salt & Light for about 2 years. He performs multiple tasks including working in the admin office, handing out locks and vests, makes copies and keeping the copier filled, restocking the restrooms, cleaning and organizing our break room, accepting donations, and helping on the truck.

But Chris’s biggest job here is talking to people. He loves getting to know their stories. You can always find him talking with someone and joking around with them.

Chris loves serving with our team and can be found in our Champaign store regularly.  On the wall in our our processing area (also shown in Chris’s picture) it says, “Let the light shine by helping those in need”. Chris says that’s why he is here…to help others.

3 WYAS BUYIN GROCERIES AT SALT & LIGHT WILL TRANSFORM YOUR COMMUNITY

3 Ways Buying Groceries at Salt & Light Will Transform Your Community

It’s a common misconception that Salt & Light’s grocery and thrift store is not open to the public. We often find people think either 1) Our store is only for those in need, or 2) If they shop in our store they are taking things from people in need.

Both of these could not be further from the truth.

In fact, without people shopping in our store our model simply will not work. We need at least 400 families to buy half of their groceries at Salt & Light to make it all work. In a community our size this is certainly not an insurmountable number.

Our store is stocked with a mix of name brand and generic options like you would find at most of the stores in our community. This inventory is continually replenished just like at any other store, so no need to fear items not being available for our participants earning credit.

Here are three ways buying your groceries at Salt & Light not only helps, but also will actually transform our community:

  1. You help those in need.

In addition to our educational programming, your purchases help to fund the store credit participants earn when they work/volunteer at Salt & Light. When participants volunteer they earn store credit they can spend in our grocery and thrift store to acquire the resources their family needs. Our one of a kind program provides access to basic needs like food, clothing, and household items in a model that reinforces the capacity of the individual while affirming their dignity in the process. By shopping at Salt & Light you make this possible.

  1. You increase the economic impact of your shopping.

Several studies have shown that when you buy from an independent, locally owned business, rather than a nationally owned business, significantly more of your money is used to make purchases from other local businesses, services providers, and farms – further strengthening the economic base of the whole community.

This is certainly true at Salt & Light. We purchase as much as we possibly can from locally owned businesses, and even source an ever-growing amount of our produce from local farmers. This is something the superstores and big box groceries simply don’t do.

  1. You invest in our community.

Unlike the superstores and big box groceries, Salt & Light is heavily invested in our community. Every level of leadership at Salt & Light is made up of people who live in the community—people who have a vested interest in working everyday to help make it a better place for everyone to live. Because we are your friends and neighbors we understand the community, and care deeply about how the decisions we make impact it.

Our vision is to see every person growing their God-given potential. It’s not about profits for us. It’s about empowering people to realize the fullness of who it is they were created to be, and in the process affecting lasting change their lives that not only changes their situation, but also transforms our community.

 

The bottom line is you have a choice where you buy your groceries. The question is,

“Will your choice only feed your family or will it also help someone in need to feed theirs?”