Broken furniture. A flashlight with a leaking battery. A transformed Barbie doll.
Thrift stores across the country are flooded with household items, offers from people who have been home for months and are excited about cleaning up some of their belongings.
The problem is that too many such items can most accurately be described as junk. Many donations are broken or worn items. It is a gift from well-meaning people who should donate items to reduce waste, but should not just donate.
Thrift stores that are wary of discouraging donations, as always, welcome the most donations, especially after the recession that has done the most damage to low-income Americans. And they find that most of the items that arrive at their store are still fully acceptable.
In the middle of the spring cleaning season, however, the business is looking to delay the spate of unwanted posts that have increased during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Megan Fink, director of marketing at Palmetto Goodwill, which operates 31 stores in South Carolina, said, “But we’re trying to educate ourselves.”
Such donations are not just an expense for second-hand stores. They also increase their disposal costs. Businesses take time and manpower to process.
David Courard-Hauri, professor of environmental science and sustainability at Drake University, said:
Rising waste spending can divert money away from other services that government agencies in the community can spend, such as: B. Work development programs.
In Wisconsin and Illinois, businesses are reporting an influx of flammable and hazardous donations, including lead-acid batteries. Julie Deming, Merchandising Director of Goodwill Industries in southeast Wisconsin, which operates 100 goodwill stores in southeast Wisconsin and Chicago, said these items were an environmentally friendly waste disposal company. Increases the cost of the business as it has to be disposed of. Subway area.
“We made all kinds of donations for people to clean their homes,” Deming said. “We think it is important to inform donors that items cannot be repaired.”
Notifying the donor of this fact does not necessarily solve the problem. Frugal workers note that many donors already know the type of items to avoid donating, but just throw the trash in the store to get rid of it.
Rolf Halberson, Operations Director at Goodwill Industries in Houston, which has 61 retail stores in Texas, said, “You come in at 10 p.m. or midnight or run behind the store to unload the torn sofa. And that adds to the weight of our garbage. So give us on their behalf. I submitted an invoice. “
According to workers, that increase is partly due to the temporary closings of stores during the pandemic. Barbie Parker, vice president of fund development and community relations at Goodwill Houston, said donations like couches were moldy in the rain because the dispensers kept dropping items while the store was closed. Said it grew. Other institutions like Charleston’s Finks also received such donations when they were closed.
Brian Itskowitz, an official with Goodwill Industries International, said Goodwill was a truck driver as some cities and towns were upset when donated goods were left outside of the store. He said he had to assign them and carry them away.
It is unclear whether or to what extent the increase in garbage costs affected all 156 independent goodwill agencies in the US and Canada, as well as 12 subsidiaries in other countries. Goodwill Industries International, which is a member of a local independent agency, does not collect data on garbage costs, according to Itzkowitz.
Last year, goodwill in northern New England, which operates 30 stores in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont, totaled $ 1.2 million. Even before COVID-19 hit, unusable donations were becoming a problem for agencies. Garbage spending is estimated to have increased 155% over the past five years.
“What we are seeing anecdotally is that these are a younger generation of donors,” said Heather Steves, the agency’s communications manager. “Our grandmother knew what to donate for the goodwill, and what our grandmother bought lasted much longer. It was built better. It was designed for that. It was built in Second Life. “
“Now there are many single-use items in the world. At the same time, there are millennials like me who don’t want to throw anything away. Because we are as sustainable as possible. “Someone is that old spaghetti. I am confident that you should turn your bottle into a vase. But the truth is not. Some are recyclable and others are junk and shouldn’t be put in good will. “
Experts say the recent surge in garbage costs at these stores is part of a larger trend that resellers, including mom and pop stores, have likely been watching for the past 15 years.
Cynthia Isenhour, professor of anthropology and climate change who has studied the reuse economy in Maine for many years, said, “This breaks them and people don’t know what to do with it. Due to the poor quality of the materials, many cannot be repaired. “
The flood of rubbish caused by the pandemic is beyond good intentions. Other stores, like the Farmington Thrift Shop in Farmington, Maine, also say garbage donations have increased during the pandemic.
Salvation Army National Relations and Development Secretary Dale Bannon didn’t say the deal was facing a surge in garbage bills. However, in a statement he said, “It is important that people identify the individual needs of local thrift stores.”
According to Bannon, most of the locations in the Salvation Army are in need of “high quality, new, and gentle items.”
As a good will, workers say donors need to check local agency websites to make sure certain items are acceptable donations.
Steve’s of Goodwill Northern New England has a quick tip for anyone interested in donating items to thrift stores:
“If you don’t give it to your judgmental mother-in-law, don’t donate it,” she said.
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