Social Impact Heroes Helping Our Planet: Why & How Kirk Bradley Of SATCoL.org Is Helping To Change Our World
An Interview With Martita Mestey
Businesses do not often know the scope of services available at SATCoL. We are the largest charity-owned textiles collector in the U.K working to raise vital funds for The Salvation Army through our reuse and recycling schemes.
As part of my series about “individuals and organizations making an important social impact”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Kirk Bradley.
Kirk Bradley is Head of Corporate Partnerships at The Salvation Army Trading Company running a Business Development team for the largest charity owned textiles collector in the U.K. As an innovator and visionary he actively works on partnerships that help to protect our planet by reducing waste. He part founded the Corporate Donation scheme for the business, which now represents a turnover of several millions, with the profits received donated to The Salvation Army to continue to support the great work they do nationwide.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit. Can you tell us a bit about how you grew up?
My name is Kirk Bradley and I am proudly working as the Head of Corporate Partnerships at The Salvation Army Trading Company. I grew up in Suffolk, England , raised in a family of four and have always enjoyed exploring the great outdoors.
You are currently leading a social impact organization that is making a difference for our planet. Can you tell us a bit about what you and your organization are trying to change in our world today?
Salvation Army Trading Company Ltd (SATCoL) is the trading arm of The Salvation Army, raising money for charity through our nationwide reuse and repurposing schemes. An intrinsic part of our company strategy focuses on the circular economy and reducing waste.
Can you tell us the backstory about what inspired you to originally feel passionate about this cause?
I am motivated by protecting our planet. I feel we are custodians of the earth and need to do our utmost to provide a better place for our children.
Many of us have ideas, dreams, and passions, but never manifest them. They don’t get up and just do it. But you did. Was there an “Aha Moment” that made you decide that you were actually going to step up and do it? What was that final trigger?
The devasting impact of climate change is evident for us all to see. As a society we have to all work together to reduce harmful impacts on the planet.
The work we do at SATCoL has opened my eyes to the amount of work we have to do. So, it wasn’t necessarily an ‘ah-ha’ moment, but just being motivated about how we can help individuals, communities and corporate partners who want to make a positive difference — and that’s inspiring. We enable that to happen through our various reuse and repurposing schemes — for example, we facilitate the recycling of end of line stock, excess stock, returned items with Corporate Donation partnerships and also find ways to repurpose pre-loved textiles via our online and in-store Take Back schemes.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began working at SATCoL?
My most interesting and profound experience would be part founding our Corporate Donation partnerships, which now represents a turnover of several millions with the profits received donated to The Salvation Army.
This service is very exciting and delivers a message of hope not only from the generous donations but also the potential to divert so many items away from disposal. It’s great to know that we have donated furniture to schools that have come from these partnerships in addition to various other community projects, schemes like this at SATCoL is changing lives.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson or take away you learned from that?
Every day is a new day and presents a new learning opportunity. We are always coming up with ideas at SATCoL for new ways to sustain our planet, some of my ideas can be a little off the wall but it is all part of being on the journey of industry innovators. A funny idea I had, was a clothing bank for children that made funny noises once they donated but it never happened, however we did introduce our mascot Recycle with Michael which has worked well. Visit www.recyclewithmichael.co.uk to learn more about this project for schools.
None of us can be successful without some help along the way. Did you have mentors or cheerleaders who helped you to succeed? Can you tell us a story about their influence?
Tony Hosking is our Operations Director, and he took me under his wings from a very early stage in my career at SATCoL. He supported me and nurtured my skills and I was able to progress from being a Key Account Manager with minimal experience to now running a Business Development team that is collectively creating waves in the industry.
Are there three things the community, society, or politicians can do to help you address the root of the problem you are trying to solve?
We provide sustainable solutions to help our partners meet their CSR aims and aspirations. We are part of a society that overconsumes in many areas and our role in minimising the environmental impacts of textiles is to divert as much as possible away from disposal and lessen the burden of over production. We have a new Textiles Recovery Facility in our East Midlands processing centre named Fibersort, which is the first ground-breaking technology of its kind in the U.K. It automatically identifies and sorts second-hand textiles by fibre type. Fibersort makes sure garments are accurately separated by fibre type for recycling including the lower grade items classed as unwearables.
Today, we have a simple Fibersort line, but our aim is to have a more sophisticated ‘Fibre Farm’ where we are part of the circular supply chain, providing re-wearable garments for resale and sorted materials for recycling. That is the future. This latest solution means that we want to receive more donations and further secure our position on being part of the change we would like to see and close the loop on fibre to fibre recycling.
How would you articulate how a business can become more profitable by being more sustainable and more environmentally conscious? Can you share a story or example?
Our Take Back scheme allows businesses to invite their customers to be part of the circular economy and give them the opportunity to donate pre-loved textiles in store or via our online donation portal. Our team manage the entire logistical process.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
- Businesses do not often know the scope of services available at SATCoL. We are the largest charity-owned textiles collector in the U.K working to raise vital funds for The Salvation Army through our reuse and recycling schemes.
- Take Back is the perfect sustainable solution for businesses to work in partnership with their customs to to give pre-loved fashion a new lease of life.
- Corporate Donations would be the opportunity to receive donations of excess, returned or faulty stock that would change the game for our business. We currently collect and deliver to our processing centre. Once tested or quality checked, products suitable for resale will be distributed to our 240 retail outlets across the UK.
- Clothing Banks are all day every day way for the public to donate. Through the pandemic this was a vital way for us to continue to engage with the public and receive their pre-loved items that would then journey to change lives through our various repurposing schemes. We collect around 62,000 tonnes of textiles each year and have around 8,000 clothing collection banks located across the country holding up to 240 kilos of textiles including clothing, bags and shoes.
- How the funds we raise has both a social and environmental impact. At SATCoL we maximise the potential of charitable donations by creating more opportunities for garments and other items to be repurposed in an effort to protect our planet and help transform lives.
If you could tell other young people one thing about why they should consider making a positive impact on our environment or society, like you, what would you tell them?
The profits received from the donated items, will be given to The Salvation Army to continue to support the great work they do across the U.K such as, providing specialist support for survivors and potential victims of modern slavery, shelter for those experiencing homelessness and so much more. In the last 10 years alone, we have donated over £80 million to help the charity’s work in communities across the UK. By donating pre-loved textiles you are supporting the fashion circular economy and by choosing to shop second-hand items you are helping to sustain our planet.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
You’ll always regret the things you never did so in business, just go for it!
Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂
I would love to have lunch with Sir David Attenborough, he is a staple part of my TV selection and one of the biggest reasons we have the natural history and planet earth documentaries today. I am inspired by his respect and care for the world around us.
He has travelled the globe to deliver his definitive take on the wonders of the natural world and it would be incredible to learn from his travel experience and hear about some of the amazing environments and life he has witnessed. To be able to see the world through his eyes for a moment in time, would be life changing.
How can our readers follow you online?
Visit www.satcol.org or follow us on our social channels @reuse2repurpose
This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success on your great work!
Social Impact Heroes Helping Our Planet: Why & How Kirk Bradley Is Helping To Change was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.