Reduce, Reuse, Recycle… and Dance?

“Everyone Matters.”

It’s painted on the wall inside the Goodwill® Central Texas Resource Center—above 125,000 square feet of second-hand goods and distribution machinery.

This is where each of the 150 employees at the Resource Center made recycling over 7,500 tons of material possible last year. In 2015, they also helped divert more than 29.4 million pounds of materials from landfills.

According to Fred Manor, the Dock Manager of Goodwill Central Texas Resource Center, this location is full of constant employee action, moving a steady stream of incoming goods in and out of the attached outlet store and warehouse recycling operations.

This natural choreography of people and goods took on a whole new meaning for these employees when their routine movements and work became a public dance performance for two special nights earlier this year.

On February 12 and 13, 2016, Forklift Danceworks and the Goodwill Central Texas Resource Center paired up to host a performance called RE Source. This free dance performance showcased the elaborate services of Goodwill Central Texas’ large recycling and redistribution center.

Forklift is a nationally-recognized Austin-based contemporary dance company that uses dance and movement to celebrate the extraordinary in the ordinary, including employees and their efforts within the Austin community.

Featuring over 70 Goodwill employees as the performers, RE Source wove together choreographed movement—drawn from the employees’ everyday work—into a series of vignettes to highlight the positive impact Goodwill’s everyday work had on the community and the environment.

“My job in recycling is the way I feel that I recycled my life—I recycled these things, ‘cause this is a new me. And by me separating those materials they are building up something too – a new computer or something like that,” Goodwill Central Texas employee Tyson Pearce said in an interview used in the performance.

Goodwill helps people like Pearce navigate the challenges they face when seeking employment, including disabilities, lack of education or work experience, and other factors that make it difficult for someone to get hired and build a career.

“When I clock out I feel like I accomplish something. I’m at peace. I feel constructive… I’m giving back. I’m giving back to society. And I know everyone can have a second chance you’ve just got to accept it,” Pearce said.

On these February evenings, warehouse equipment and machinery—including actual forklifts—moved through a one-of-a-kind set and lighting installation. Employees emptied bins for a ballet of organization. Live jazz played in the background. Colorful lights danced off recycled electronics.

Goodwill E-Commerce Specialist Liliana De Osio was proud of the performances.

"It was amazing to see the people were moved by our work. We were able to reach their hearts. They were able to see the stuff they give us will have a new life. Before, our voices were silent, without people being able to listen. Now our voices can be heard," she said.

The audience was made up of hundreds of family members, friends and the local community members. The performance took months of planning and weeks of practice. Each portion of the warehouse process was celebrated and set to its own musical accompaniment. One of the top segments performed was around the computer recycling program, Dell Reconnect.

The Dell Reconnect program, a partnership with Goodwill, works to maximize the value of used electronics and ensure that e-waste is managed in an environmentally-safe way. Along with other contributing organizations and foundations, Dell helped fund this performance and continues to supply Goodwill with human, informational and technological resources.

Computers, monitors, printers, scanners, keyboards and cables—these are just some of the items accepted through the Dell Reconnect program. Any brand of used electronics, in any condition, is accepted for free at more than 2,000 participating Goodwill locations across the United States for consumers—and all donations are tax deductible. In some locations, Goodwill will also refurbish and resell the used equipment to provide affordable computer equipment to the community.

To date, the Dell Reconnect program has diverted more than 427 million pounds of used electronics from landfills. In addition, these collections help support Dell’s goal of recovering 2 billion pounds of used electronics by 2020.

The benefits of Dell Reconnect are not limited to the environment.

Dell’s partnership with Goodwill funds the nonprofit’s work in job creation and skills training for people facing challenges to finding employment. Every donation to Dell Reconnect accounts for 6.8 hours of job training.

“This dance demonstrated the innate beauty and rhythm of the work of recycling, the people who perform the work, and the power of both,” said Krissie Marty, Associate Choreographer for Forklift Danceworks. “Every day when an employee shows up for work and does their job well, they are improving their own lives, and transforming the life of someone else.”

Find a Dell Reconnect participating Goodwill U.S. location in your area here.

Read more on Power More about Dell Reconnect and the challenges of e-waste here.

About the Author: Sarah Gilliam