Thrift Stores Are Not Dumping Grounds!

Since we are all spending more time at home at the moment, it’s unsurprising that a lot of people are reorganizing their possessions to realign their surroundings to their current lives.

This might mean realizing what things no longer feel necessary in their lives, and now they need to make decisions about how to deal with these items.

After gifting items to friends and relatives, the most natural course of action seems to be donating it to charities or thrift stores. Many people do this as it’s easy and convenient, since most towns have quite a few of these stores located around, and it doesn’t require a lot of effort to do this. A lot of people also believe that they are doing a good thing by donating to good causes, but truth be told it’s not always the case.

Thrift Stores Need Good Quality Donations

First thing that you need to remember if you are considering donating anything to a thrift store is whether your items are still in good condition. This means no irreparable damages such as larges rips anywhere, no shattered or broken items that no longer serve it’s purpose, and for clothing in particular something that someone else could actually wear again.

So it doesn’t matter if you think someone else could fix it or the charity store must just appreciate your donation, because it’s about whether customers would actually buy it in that condition.

So think about washing and cleaning some of these items too so that they are near enough ready to be put on the shelf, because the people who work in charity stores will really appreciate it, which will really help the charity more.

They Rely on Volunteers’ Help

Remember this fact before you walk into a charity shop and start complaining about the lack of perfection in a display, or that something isn’t 100% spotless. Firstly, it is full of many pre owned items that won’t always be like new. And secondly the majority of the staff will be working there for free to aid the company, save for few paid members of staff necessary to run the place.

The number of volunteers depends entirely on whether anyone has shown interest to help out, and so if there isn’t the numbers, then you may only have one or two people looking after the place in a whole day.

And for that, you must appreciate the amount of effort that goes into looking after a second hand store. Even for places that aren’t charities which have fewer members of staff, they’re not always likely to be paid a lot as there is little funding that comes into this in the first place.

Amount of Donations Can Be Excessive

So tying in with the amount of staff members that are working in these stores, then what happens when you get an influx of donations?

What usually happens is that it’s very difficult to sift through everything that comes in and there is little to no time to actually prepare these items for the shop floor. So with little funding, a lot of stock and little time, the idea of suggesting that charities wash clothes in a washing machine and hang them to dry before selling it is ridiculous.

One thing that these places do do beforehand is steaming clothes. This simultaneously irons out any creases and kills bacteria, so some preparation is done. Otherwise, you should expect to wash items for them before bringing them in, or understand this when shopping in these stores.

Disposing of Unsalable Donations Costs Money

Yes, and this is especially true and unfair to charities that have to spend money to remove anything that doesn’t get sold or isn’t good enough.

Their first stop is paying a recycling company to collect anything that could still be repurposed, reused, or recycled into new material for new garments. There is a limit that can be taken since they may rely on weekly collections, and if you’re working in a smaller scale company, this can be a lot harder to organize.

The last resort is binning it, and that is where it’s poor environmental impact starts. Anything that’s broken or damaged will fall in this category, and even items that can’t be used by the recycling company will end up in landfill. This is such as sad eventuality for many things, and in a world where a lot of people will use things once and throw it away, it is the last thing we should be doing and be more aware of.

The Planet Suffers from Excessive Waste

The more that we adopt a buy and bin mentality, the worse the impact of these actions will affect us.

We can already see it all around us, and it is a lot worse if you are disposing of materials that struggle to degrade in nature. We all know that plastics are the worst for this. Through the very slow process of plastics degrading, toxic chemicals get released into the environment, and the durability of these substances means it lingers everywhere in nature, causing a lot of wildlife more harm in the process.

To put all the burdens of our waste problems on someone else such as these companies is also an unfair future. This is what eventually contributes to a wider problem across the world.

What Can We Do Instead?

There are many options that are better than throwing a lot of unwanted goods all to charities and overloading them. This could include:

  • Repairing something that is broken instead of binning it.
  • Trying to sell items to a new home on eBay, Depop or something similar.
  • Gift it to family and friends or ask if they want anything.
  • Keep an eye on your spending habits and avoid impulse purchases that you might not want later.
  • Re purpose it – maybe with clothes try to make a new item of clothing from it.

There are more options that are better and more considerate to opt for when thinking about saying goodbye to items. It’s just a case of putting as much thought into this, as well as keeping a tab on how often you buy new things, and whether it’s a pattern you get into often.

It might even be that you’re clearing out items you’ve had for so long that haven’t been used, but whatever the reason for it, remember that all possessions come with a sense of responsibility which is both a blessing and a burden.

23 Replies to “Thrift Stores Are Not Dumping Grounds!”

  1. I love this. I have been doing a declutter challenge this month. I have found new people to love a lot of my old stuff on a local Buy Nothing Facebook group. It takes a bit of work but it’s a great way to repurpose things you no longer have a use for. It’s surprising what people will take off your hands.

    1. Yes Facebook giveaway groups are a really good idea, some people like the idea of free items. You’re right it’s still work but at least you know your old things aren’t going to waste! Thank you for sharing this Michelle!

  2. This is so true. I personally volunteered at a thrift store and you are correct about how many people it takes to run a successful thrift store business. The owner has to constantly meet with donors, businesses, sponsors, the owners, ect. all the while where I volunteered the store took care of many different needs. The washer and dryer are constantly running, with the sorting of clothes, tagging them, hanging them on hangers, putting them out in the store sometimes my shop had to stop accepting donations for you could barely get through where the mountains of donations piled up in the sorting room. There is so much more to it behind the scenes that meet the eye. Beautiful post, well done.

    1. Thank you, I’m glad to read of your experiences there too. I’ve volunteered in a few thrift stores too so I understand the work it takes to make these places work, I commend anyone who works in these places as they do work hard.

  3. We love going on thrift store adventures! We’ve also donated a fair bit to our local thrift stores as we’ve decluttered over the years. My rule of thumb is, if I wouldn’t buy it myself, I’m not going to donate it. I figure no one wants my rejects that are worn out or broken or missing pieces.

  4. So true, I love my thrift stores! I shop at them all the time, I was actually planning on posting a blog story about this lol. I always try and donate good, useable items only to these stores.

  5. I would add to your list: ASK for suggestions. We had old blankets and towels used for packing during a move not suitable for a thrift store. I asked and many people had suggestions including animal shelters which I thought was very clever. Some even responded with place names and telephone numbers.

    1. That’s a very good point! There are a lot of organizations as you say like shelters that could definitely benefit from donations, and they even rely on them. At least this way the items go directly to a good cause as well. Thank you for this suggestion!

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