This past November, nine organizations successfully completed a Sustainability Circle® in San Diego. One of the participants, Goodwill Industries of San Diego County, originally joined the Circle in order to reduce energy and waste. What they weren’t expecting, was the collaborative partnership they would form with two other local businesses in the Circle. Jacky Brown and April Andrews of Goodwill Industries shared their experience and its beneficial outcome.
REV: What was a highlight of the Sustainability Circle experience for Goodwill?
Jacky: We enjoyed the opportunity to network with other like-minded organizations that are focused on improving their sustainability efforts. And of course, being able to design a Sustainability Action Plan was great.
April: The highlight for me was the collaboration with the other organizations. It was amazing how much I learned from listening to representatives from other organizations discuss solutions to similar roadblocks they had faced as well as things to absolutely not try.
REV: Tell us how you have collaborated with other Circle members?
April: The partnerships we formed with Cal State University San Marcos and Chula Vista Auto Body developed organically through the format of the Sustainability Circle. The forum and specific exercises of the Circle allowed for the dialogue to happen.
Jacky: During the initial sessions, we had the opportunity to explain what we do as a non-profit organization, which allowed Cal State San Marcos and Chula Vista Auto Body to gain a better understanding of the services we provide. They communicated their challenges in disposing of certain materials — used furniture and car bumpers. As it turns out, we were able to accept these items and offer our services as a solution to their problem.
REV: In addition to the obvious win-win — diverting furniture items and car bumpers from the landfill and creating a revenue stream for Goodwill — what other benefits are you expecting from the partnership?
Jacky: The benefits would be the long-term relationship we want to maintain. It is our hope that in the future we can continue to partner in donation drives or other diversion efforts.
REV: Do you have any advice for other organizations currently participating or planning to participate in Sustainability Circles?
Jacky: My advice would be to be willing to network, listen to what each organization does, and think about how to collaborate. The organizations in our Circle were diverse. However, we were able to learn from each other. Some of them are ahead in their sustainability efforts, and others are behind. However, we all had the opportunity to learn from each other.
April: My advice would be to remain open to the process and do not limit your ideas based on what you think “may” not be approved by your particular organization at this particular point in time.
REV would like to congratulate all of the organizations who participated in this recent Sustainability Circle in San Diego, and especially Goodwill Industries, CSU San Marcos, and Chula Vista Auto Body who proved that one man’s trash certainly can be another’s treasure!
If you would like more information on how you can divert your items from the waste stream by donating excess inventory to Goodwill San Diego, please http://sdgoodwill.org/donate/