The Journey of Junk: Exploring the Life Cycle of Discarded Items

Good Haul

The average American can produce over 1,600 pounds of trash per year. While it’s likely true that over half of that number is truly unusable waste, a good bit of it can still be recycled and it is not. It’s estimated that the average European generates just over 1,000 in garbage per year. What does that say about the mindset of Americans as a whole? Are we just perpetual trash generators or just not that good at recycling and reusing?

What’s the average journey of a piece of junk in the US? How are we defining “junk”? On a very general level, junk is an item that is unwanted by the current user/owner. On a more specific level, it could be expired food, hand-me-down clothing, old books, or your grandmother’s kitchen set that still has a few years left in it. You get the gist. At Good Haul, we’re committed to ensuring every piece of junk’s journey ends in the landfill as a last resort. 

Trash, Recycling, and Donation are three different channels through which junk is typically funneled in the US, and some are more utilized than others. Good Haul is committed to sustainability, and we’ll talk a bit about how we utilize each channel as well. We’re always looking for more organizations and businesses to partner with and are happy to discuss our practices with those looking to emulate.

Discarding Items

Landfills are the most common form of waste disposal. Although unsightly, they are necessary for the proper disposal of solid waste. A waste management company will collect your household or commercial waste and bring it the landfill. If operated and designed correctly, landfills can reduce environmental damage and help keep our communities clean. However, landfills pose various environmental threats such as land and water contamination due to leaky liners and climate-damaging methane gas emittance.  The University of Colorado-Boulder recommends recycling, composting, and avoiding single-use plastics as much as possible to reduce your individual impact. 

Good Haul differs from our competitors because we don’t bring your junk straight to the landfill. Instead, we utilize various community partners and organizations to ensure that the items we receive are donated or recycled whenever possible, limiting the amount in landfills. The Philadelphia Furniture Bank is our primary partner in ensuring that unneeded items reach those who need them most.

The Philadelphia Furniture Bank (PFB) was established in 2014 and furnishes over 1,400 homes annually. PFB is not open to the public and instead works with Member Agencies around and in Philadelphia to identify clients needing furniture for their homes. Clients are individuals or families who are exiting homelessness or coming from other crisis situations. If Good Haul receives any furniture pieces in good condition, it’s donated directly to PFB. 

Fun Fact: PFB & Good Haul share a warehouse so the donation process is seamless.


On average, the US recycles 69 million tons of waste annually, with paper and cardboard making up about 67% of that amount. According to the EPA, “recycling is the process of collecting and processing materials that would otherwise be thrown away as trash and turning them into new products.” Most municipalities have recycling pickup services, too, and if they don’t, there is likely a recycling center near you. Recycling is easier and more important than you think. Check out these tips to Recycle Right from Recycle Across America.

Paper, cardboard, cans, and glass are the most commonly recycled items. Some consider these to be the “easiest” to recycle. Good Haul tackles the harder recyclable materials as well. If you have an old computer or TV, we’ll haul it away for you. We’ll then recycle it via PAR Recycle Works, an electronics recycling nonprofit here in Philadelphia. With other junk haulers, your electronics could end up in a landfill, leaking harmful chemicals possibly into the environment. When doing full-house cleanouts, we often stumble into various materials that we'll recycle, like old papers, batteries, and scrap metal.

 Good Haul is your one-stop shop for responsible junk hauling services. We handle the hauling, recycling, and donating for you!


While moving out or downsizing, items often remain that are still in good condition. Donating them to a family member or friend isn’t always an option, so Good Haul ensures those items find a new home elsewhere. While we have already touched on our donation coordination with the Philadelphia Furniture Bank, we are proud to have a few other partnerships for donations. 

Clothing, books, appliances, furniture, and “knick-knacks” are just a few of the common items we receive that are donated back to the community. Any good-quality clothing is donated to Circle Thrift, a local thrift store in North Philadelphia. Books in good condition are donated to Project HOMEbooks, a social enterprise bookseller. If the books we receive can’t be donated, they are recycled. Any appliances, furniture, or knick-knacks unsuitable for the Furniture Bank will be donated to our friends at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore

Good Haul is an unduplicated resource for the Philadelphia Furniture Bank, just as PFB is an unduplicated resource for furniture in Philadelphia. PFB continues to serve more individuals and families every year. In 2023, PFB served 2,632 household members and 260 veteran households. The items PFB receives from Good Haul pickups are more than just pieces of furniture, they can help a house feel more like home for a client at the Philadelphia Furniture Bank.

New Life For Your Junk

Good Haul is committed to finding new life for your junk. If it can be recycled, reused, or donated, it won’t end up in a landfill. We’re thankful for our Good Haulers, who’ve helped us save over 500,000 pounds of furniture and other items from being trashed so far. We’re looking forward to a great 2024! 

Even if it takes an extra few minutes, recycling the right way, i.e., rinsing a glass jar, can go a long way. We’re all here on this earth together and should take care of it. Organizations like Good Haul make it easier to practice sustainability in junk hauling but don’t forget to check your local thrift stores for any items you might need. This is a good practice in being a mindful consumer. We aren’t here to tell you how to live; we are just here to help you find a new life for your junk. 

There’s a reason why the saying “another person’s trash is another’s treasure” has stuck around for so long. Something unwanted, “junk,” could easily be recycled into something better or donated to someone else who can find value in it. Do you have stuff lying around that could use new life? Choose Good Haul to help you haul that stuff away, and you can feel good while doing it.  

Get a Quote