Kermit the Frog famously croaked “it’s not easy being green,” which might have been true on Sesame Street. But our amphibious friend would surely sing a different tune if he lived anywhere near one of St. Vinnie’s 13 retail-thrift stores in Oregon.
Whether you want to save money, be kind to the earth, or promote health, security, abundance and harmony in your community — just a few of the positive things associated with the color — St. Vincent de Paul of Lane County (SVdP) makes it easy to be green.
But Kermit’s lament rings especially true for many this time of year. The holidays always bring with them rampant consumption and waste, accompanied by elevated levels of expense and stress.
So read on to count the ways you can keep your holiday season green with the help of St. Vinnie’s — all while you fend off that most infamous of green grumps, the Grinch!
Save Some Green
First, you can save green by shopping the array of affordable merchandise and merry décor at every St. Vinnie’s store.
You’ll find large selections of affordable, quality preowned clothing and shoes, books, housewares, furniture, tools, toys, electronics, holiday décor and more at most every store. (Our newest location, 888 Garfield St. in Eugene, doesn’t have clothing and books but makes up for it with a more expansive inventory of just about everything else.) All locations also dedicate displays or entire aisles to seasonal décor ahead of every holiday.
St. Vinnie’s also is an exclusive reseller of new/nearly new furniture, home décor and other items from several of the world’s best-known upscale retail brands. These include floor models, customer returns, overstock and past-season items offered at 1/3 to 1/2 of their original retail prices.
What’s more, weekly color-tag sales of 25 and 50 percent off regularly priced items, along with periodic unannounced half-price sales on clothing and books, mean you can keep even more green in your wallet.
Add it all up, and your savings at St. Vinnie’s will give you even more cause for celebration as you deck the halls and check the names off your list this season.
Be a Green Giver
You can also be green by thrift-giving this holiday season — buying gently preowned or like-new resale items from St. Vinnie’s for at least some of the people on your gift list.
With every such item you purchase, you extend its useful life and delay the need for it to be recycled or landfilled (and replaced). This includes the same name-brand specialty products previously mentioned, which are almost as good as new but would have ended up in landfills had St. Vinnie’s not stepped in to divert them.
St. Vinnie’s nets many other still-valuable materials from society’s waste streams, and resells or recycles them to create jobs and sustainable revenue. Those funds then support SVdP’s vital human services in the community.
You support this inherently green model of “social entrepreneurship” — largely pioneered by SVdP — every time you shop at St. Vinnie’s. At the same time, you reduce waste, ease demands for the resource-intensive manufacturing of new products and packaging, and curb your overall carbon footprint.
But back to the subject of thrift-giving. Consider a few giftable “green” things you might find at St. Vinnie’s — bestselling books by John, Jane and other authors filed under “Green”; favorite movies from “Fried Green Tomatoes” to “The Green Mile”; and albums by Green Day, Cee Lo Green and everyone in between. You’re also sure to discover great décor and clothing in trending hues from sage to emerald green, and maybe even some University of Oregon apparel in Nike Apple Green if you get ducky.
A gift doesn’t need any connection to the color green to be “green,” of course, and every St. Vinnie’s is stocked with countless thrift-giving ideas in every hue.
Keep the Environment Green
After the holiday gift-opening tornado blows through your house, leaving all manner of packaging strewn in its wake, St. Vinnie’s can help you keep the environment green as you clean up the mess.
For one thing, you can bring those pesky expanded polystyrene (EPS, aka Styrofoam) packaging blocks to any St. Vinnie’s donation center for recycling. SVdP actually processes the environmentally problematic stuff right here in Eugene, turning it back into dense logs of polystyrene that manufacturers can use in new plastic products.
SVdP is the only recycler of #6-marked EPS blocks in Lane County and one of just a few in the state. And the recycling is free as long as the amount you drop off can fit in one shopping cart. There is a small fee for larger loads; see pricing and other details.
St. Vinnie’s EPS recycling efforts really add up, keeping tons of the essentially non-biodegradable material out of landfills and allowing fewer microplastics to make their way into soil and waterways. In fiscal year 2021-22, SVdP recycled 60 tons of EPS; that’s about the weight of two adult humpback whales!
But SVdP directly or indirectly recycles much more than Styrofoam. The agency is the nation’s oldest and largest mattress recycler, and through its extensive thrift network is also able to collect and resell cars, appliances, electronics, books, clothing and more. All that can’t be resold is recycled whenever possible, and discarded only as a last resort.
Maybe your post-holiday cleanup will also include getting rid of older items to make way for replacements received as gifts. Perhaps your upcoming resolutions will involve streamlining and simplifying, tidying up the house or cleaning out the garage.
In any case, St. Vinnie’s can help as you strive to keep your household clean and the environment green heading into the New Year.
Green-Light Your Giving Spirit
There is no better time than this season of giving to honor that evergreen bit of Biblical wisdom, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”
As Lane County’s largest nonprofit human-services provider, SVdP gives you many opportunities to help your most vulnerable neighbors as a financial or in-kind donor. SVdP serves more than 35,000 people annually through programs aimed at alleviating poverty and ending the cycle of homelessness for all. So every gift of green (the monetary type) and every item you donate at a St. Vinnie’s store helps build a better community with more jobs, affordable housing and life-stabilizing services.
You can support families in crisis this holiday season by adding a donation of any amount at the cash register when you shop at St. Vinnie’s. Through December, the annual in-store fundraiser will raise money for SVdP’s Youth & Family Services program, which assists families experiencing homelessness.
While at St. Vinnie’s this winter, you can also drop weatherized gloves, coats and shoes in the in-store donation barrels collecting items needed for the lifesaving Egan Warming Centers.
To make an ongoing difference for local neighbors in need, you can become part of the SVdP Sustainer’s Circle by making recurring monthly financial gifts of any size. For example, just $20 a month will clothe, feed and provide showers for one unhoused individual; $50 will do the same for a family at SVdP’s First Place Family Center.
You can always factor SVdP into your year-end giving with a one-time donation; donate stock or direct IRA distributions to the agency; name SVdP in your will; or identify it as a beneficiary of your retirement plan or life-insurance policy.
Many other small, almost effortless ways to support SVdP can add up over time. As just two examples, you can designate SVdP as the recipient of your Oregon BottleDrop returns and any rewards accumulated through your purchases at Fred Meyer.
Be Green with … Empathy
Whatever you do this holiday season, don’t become green with envy like the Grinch. His jealousy became hate and greed, which eventually turned inside-out in the face of unrelenting love and generosity. Something similar happened around this time of year to that seemingly irredeemable miser, Ebenezer Scrooge.
Why not just decide right now to embrace kindness, empathy and selflessness during the holidays and beyond? You’ll end up in the same happy state as the reformed Grinch and Scrooge, without having to endure the moral roller-coaster rides that took them there.
Few things in life can bring about that kind of transformation quite like placing others’ needs above your own, and many ongoing opportunities exist for doing that as a volunteer with SVdP. Some most-needed roles include meal preparation and daycare teaching support at First Place Family Center and Night Shelter Annex, and guest support at Egan Warming Centers.
Many other options exist for those who prefer to volunteer outside of a direct social-service setting and yet still want to support SVdP’s human-focused mission. Valuable volunteer contributions can include sorting book and clothing donations, greeting customers at St. Vinnie’s stores, and performing various office/clerical tasks.
Best of all, it doesn’t matter how green you might be at any task when you come to SVdP as a volunteer. Staff will provide any necessary training and look for ways you can put your unique talents and interests to best use.
If the Grinch himself showed up wanting to make up for his years spent as an envious green-eyed monster, even he could make a positive impact as an SVdP volunteer. Like anyone else, though, he’d have to start by filling out the required volunteer application form.