The GO Vibe: Committing To Cleaner Closets

To some people, Dry January is all the buzz, and for others, it's time for the "New Year, New You" stampede to the gym. But for the growing number of organization aficionados, dedicated thrifters and supporters of the circular economy, it's GO time.

Yep, January is "Get Organized" month. And Goodwill Industries is urging people to go through their closets, basements, attics and garages, donating unwanted items.

"We tend to see an uptick each January," says Amber Shelton, a spokesperson for the nonprofit. "People clean out their closets this time of year to make room for new things they've gotten over the holidays, and they also tend to feel more generous. They get to empty their closets, and we get more goods to sell -- it's a win/win."

The Rockville, Maryland-based nonprofit uses the donations as part of its extensive j"Hoarders," ob training programs.



This year, it's working with Matt Paxton, a decluttering expert and brand ambassador, offering extra decluttering tips. Paxton, who was featured on the classic A&E show "Hoarders," provides essential advice for downsizing and organizing.

(Among them? Make a "legacy list" a New Year's day tradition by listing the two most important items in your home that tell a family story. And give your closet a "Did I really wear it?" reality check, turning all clothes hangers one way and switching it when you wear it. In a year, it's easy to see what hasn't been worn, so you can donate it to charity or sell it online.)

Shelton says that the early months of the pandemic sparked a crushing overload of donations at Goodwill locations throughout the country.

"Initially, many of our stores were overwhelmed. The pandemic brought a staffing shortage—many people who sort, sticker and sell donations weren't able to come to work."

And while many experts predicted the organizing trend would fall off, it's one of those pandemic changes that seem to have staying power.

"We've continued to see an increase in donations," with more than 107 million donors giving items to nearly 3,300 outlet and retail stores, as well as through the organization's website, she tells Marketing Daily.

Goodwill's mission is to get people back to work, offering help to more than 1.1 million people. Services include English-language training, financial education, industry-recognized credentials, help with résumés, and access to transportation and childcare.

Shelton says that giving unwanted items has always felt good, and people feel better when they clean their closets.

But other changes have been fueling the trend, including Gen Z's raging affection for thrift-store finds. Piper Sandler's most recent "Taking Stock With Teens" survey, for example, reports that teens allocate 7% of their shopping time to finding secondhand items. Some 47% of teens in its twice-yearly survey have purchased used clothing, and 58% have sold secondhand items.

Goodwill shoppers also include "people who love vintage clothing to people making a bigger commitment to sustainability. Others are looking to better manage a family budget. And for others, it's all about the thrill of the find."

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