Charity Shops Say Our Old Junk Is Costing Them Millions

by: Lucy Jones | 9 months ago | News

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Charity shops are footing the bill of our overconsumption. Nationwide, the Salvation Army is paying around $6 million every year to get rid of broken or otherwise unsaleable donations. Waste disposal is also costing individual Salvos Stores as much as $20,000 a year. Op shops all around Australia are being inundated with rubbish as consumers make way for more new stuff in their wardrobes and homes, especially during the holiday season. Representatives from the Salvation Army have asked people to refrain from dumping their old junk at op shops this Christmas. 

"I'm really grateful and overwhelmed by the generosity of people who give to the Salvation Army every time — especially at this time of year. [But] can people please think about getting rid of your rubbish and separating that from what could be donated? At Christmas time, people tend to get in a rush and they drop a lot of stuff here," Salvos Store manager Captain McGifford said.

"Items like second-hand mattresses with stains and rips, items like scratched tables and broken off legs are not helpful to our cause and actually that takes money away from us being able to help the community." 

McGifford oversees the Alice Springs Salvos Store, where the charity spends more than $20,000 per year getting rid of people's garbage. The cost of recycling broken or unwanted items is higher in regional areas like Alice Springs than it is in cities as these goods often have to be transported over long distances.

"The ability to recycle unsalable clothes is limited," McGifford said.

"There is an option to send clothes to the Alice Springs Correctional Facility to transform into rags, which we then buy back and sell, however the rag market is smaller in comparison to other regional centres." 

"The transport and fuel costs of sending unsalable items to Adelaide are uneconomical," he added. 

The Northern Territory retail operations manager for St Vincent De Paul, Colin Bird, said that waste disposal is costing the charity $70,000 per year in the territoy. 

"[It's] the classic tyranny of distance," he said.

"You you find yourself paying a lot more per square metre of rubbish up here than you do in most other centres so we're burdened with that unfortunately."

The Alice Springs Salvos Store has stopped accepting poor quality clothing donations in an effort to reduce its waste output.

"This is not a place that takes bulk second-hand clothing that may be stained or ripped or not good enough," McGifford explained.

Op shops all around the world are filling up with fast fashion items. These clothes are usually worn a few times before they are discarded or donated. The cheap price of these clothes means they often donated without a second thought and their poor quality means they are extremely difficult to resell.

One simple way we can reduce our clothing donations is by boycotting fast fashion and investing in well-made clothing instead. Around Christmas time, we can also avoid buying unnecessary or gimmicky presents that will end up in an op shop in a few months time.

"People don't need another gift voucher, people don't need another expensive, overpriced item that you had to ship in from Venezuela or Italy or somewhere else," McGifford said.

"Resist the temptation to look at those consumeristic things as a sign of love." 

Via ABC News

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