The driving concept behind Goodwill’s Donate movement is that the donation of used clothing and household items keeps them out of landfills, thus protecting our environment. But we as a society have a long way to go! “Trashed” is a 20-minute documentary that dives into the muck that we all discard, following our junk from disposal to its eternal resting place, and examining what this process says about our society in between. You can watch it free online here:

If you don’t have 20 minutes to spare, Sustainablog has outlined the five major problems created by our “throwaway” culture that are presented in the film:

  • There is a limited amount of landfill space. In 2007, the largest landfill in the United States held 100 million tons of trash. The maximum occupancy of the landfill is 150 million tons, and this number will be reached in the very near future (possibly in 2013).
  • We throw away out of convenience. Because societal conventions have us constantly wanting to move on to the next fad or technology, we are throwing away televisions, cell phones, computers, and other plastics in exchange for shinier new ones. Unsurprisingly, these new technologies will also become our future garbage.
  • Not all trash in the ocean will wash ashore. While some of the debris that comes into the ocean from rivers and storm drains eventually washes ashore, a great deal of trash will break up to become micro-particles. What’s more, certain parts of the ocean concentrate this debris. For instance, the Eastern Garbage Patch off the Pacific Coast is twice the size of Texas. Trash particles are funneled into this area causing major environmental concerns.
  • Plastic in the ocean does more than just pollute. It also acts as a giant sponge for oil, making ocean clean up that much more difficult and ocean life that much more at risk. As just one example, birds that go to the ocean for food mistake floating plastic debris for fish and feed it to their young. When these birds die and decay, one can see their remains. These consist of bones, feathers, and the plastic lighters and bottle caps that killed the birds.
  • Products retain little economic value regarding how they are disposed of. Caring about trash is not just environmentally conscious; it’s also economic. Currently, products are valued for the tasks they perform; yet, what also needs to be of importance is how the product is disposed of. This concept will assuredly create economic incentives for “greener” and more recyclable materials.

To learn more about the environmental friendliness of donating, Goodwill Omaha, and GII’s Donate movement, visit our going green section.