Title: [GreenYes] Re: Charitable donation agency
This is absolutely true. The Community Thrifts are the low-cost hauling company for many who look at their discards and think "If I didn't have a shirt, this would be better than nothing." The truth is that many/most of those donations are not suitable for American's consumer interests, especially when competing with Walmart for clothing and household items.
The goal of changing America's consumer interests is not the objective of many of those community thrifts; they have other work to accomplish.
The result is that something around 40% of all "donations" to community thrifts are actually not usable by the standards of their shoppers or clients.
StopWaste.org has recognized this, locally in Alameda County, CA. Further, they realize that thrifts pose a significant diversion from the landfill; they award Thrift Store Block Grants to encourage recycling. A thrift qualifies based on their total landfilling expenses when contrasted with all they recover for resale/reuse and recycle.
There are significant opportunities for recycling, it sounds like your agency in Boston has availed themselves of some of those. Suggestions I would have include making sure that they are recovering & recycling all the cardboard boxes their donations come in. At the thrift I worked at, we also had a program to recover & recycle all the plastic bags from donations. Those are the more obvious options.
The less obvious included shoe buyers, book buyers and electronics buyers, all of whom sourced materials unsuitable for resale from thrifts like ours and found outlets that weren't available to us (abroad).
We also ran a creative reuse program for clients to use their creativity to make new things out of discards. We made all kinds of things with reclaimed materials.. This really requires someone with a crafty bent and some interest. An option that seemed interesting but never got traction was to open the warehouse to the public for a fee; take anything you like, in whatever condition, after you pay $x to come in.
Lastly, St. Vincent de Paul of Eugene, Oregon runs a deconstruction facility here in Alameda County working with mattresses. They deconstruct the mattresses into their components for recycling or composting. ARBoone does something similar for the do it yourself-er with couches and other padded furniture, but it may not be cost effective on the scale of a community thrift.
I might suggest a more discerning donation acceptance policy, though that serves to infuriate potential donors and may result in more dumping.
I hope that's useful.
Best of luck,
Recycling Programs Manager
Davis Street Station for Material Recycling & Transfer
A Waste Management company
From: GreenYes@no.address [mailto:GreenYes@no.address]On
Behalf Of Ann Dorfman
Sent: Saturday, August 09, 2008 1:59 PM
Subject: [GreenYes] Charitable donation agency
Speaking of reuse, I was talking recently with a charitable donation agency
with a half-dozen resale shops here in the Boston area, and they are looking
for some help reducing the amount of materials they receive that they throw
away. Donation centers apparently have unbelievably high disposal costs.
People drop off gobs of stuff that they no longer want, but Goodwill is
unable to resell much of what they receive in their resale shops - just
because something is reusable doesn't mean there is adequate demand. They
work with a "salvage company" that handles damaged clothing and other small
items, but have a difficult time moving all the furniture that is left at
their door overnight and other materials that they just can't sell. They are
wondering what other options are available that will help them reduce cost
and increase revenue received for the stuff people leave with them. They
have never conducted an audit so can't really quantify the different types
of stuff that they receive. Is anyone aware of any studies that have been
done quantifying the types of materials that end being donated to this type
of organization and the highest use, highest revenue, lowers cost options
that might be available?
Recycling & Resource Management Consulting
9 Henshaw Street, Newton, MA 02465
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