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Thrifting for Earth Day

Captain Mark Ferreira is passionate about saving the planet and saving souls for Christ.

He gets to do both as administrator of the Salvation Army’s Family Store in Brockton, Mass. He likes to promote the idea that people who donate and buy used items also keep them out of the waste stream. The proceeds from The Salvation Army’s Family Stores where such items are sold, help fund the church’s Adult Rehabilitation Centers (ARC), which helps to change the lives of many men and women who struggle with drug, alcohol, and other debilitating issues.

The ARCs operate free of government funding and so are able to talk about Jesus Christ and the power of God to deliver people from their substance misuse. The ARCs are completely funded by the familiar Family Stores that dot many communities in the United States.

Ferreira is a big believer in “thrifting,” which can give items such as clothing and household goods “new life.” In the process, ARC beneficiaries can also find new life in Christ.

“In terms of thrifting and the environment, a lot of times when people are done with their clothing, it just winds up in a landfill,” Ferreira says. “There are also household items that, instead of getting thrown away, they find new life and that’s a huge thing.”


Finding new life

Ferreira said even the clothing that is too worn and damaged to be sold in stores can be recycled, so long as the textiles are clean and dry.

“We still get value out of that and process materials for recycling and reuse in other ways,” Ferreira said. “The goal is to prevent as much waste as possible, whether that’s textile materials or electronics, which we do recycle; even household items like a set of dishes that somebody got tired of. Well, instead of throwing them away, somebody else gets to find a use for them.”

Ferreira said that since the Great Depression, The Salvation Army has been repurposing items. That’s when it formed men’s industrial homes and the men’s social service centers, which eventually became the ARCs.

“We even used to pick up newspapers and things like that just to do paper recycling,” he said. “It was a fundraising source in a lot of ways.”

In another move to help the environment, Ferreira said Family Stores are no longer giving out single-use plastic bags to customers.

“We’re not using single-use plastic bags in our stores because they’re wasteful,” he said. “They’re bad for the environment and, frankly, we want to do better. We want to provide better for our customers. A lot of communities have started banning them, of course, and I think that’s part of why we initiated the move.

“I’m proud of the changes that we’ve made. I think some of [our stores] are still getting rid of existing stock of plastic bags, but they’re essentially phased out now.”


Caring for creation

Ferreira said some Family Stores are encouraging customers to bring their own bags and reusable bags.

“We also have reusable Salvation Army totes on sale for only a dollar or two, which is another great way people can support the organization,” he said. “They can take the Salvation Army bag to a grocery store and be more responsible in other ways.”

Ferreira said his passion for the environment is rooted in his Christian faith.

“I think that we have a gift in this world that God has provided as such a beautiful place,” he said. “I think we’re called to be good stewards of the environment and the resources that we’ve been entrusted. That means being conscious about how our waste affects the environment.

“So, thrifting for me hits all the buttons in terms of avoiding landfills. We’re going to avoid polluting our environment even more, at least in some measure. Meanwhile, people have the benefit of finding goods at a low cost, and all the while, support the life-saving work that we do in the Adult Rehabilitation Centers.”

by Robert Mitchell

For more information about donating to the Salvation Army’s life-changing ARC ministry,
go to or call 800-SA-TRUCK.

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