Saturday, October 9, 2010

Thrift Fail: What NOT to Donate

"Why did I donate that? WHY?"

It’s a known fact that there are many people in this world who can find use even for the most trivial of items. Crafters are leading this very lifestyle. Laughing in the face of the capitalist consumer machine that tells us to constantly discard and replace, these resourceful ladies and gents save and refurnish for future projects.

Then there are those who are simply keen to green living. Minding the permanence of their own carbon footprint, these Earth-friendly folk reuse and recycle common household goods for the purpose of reducing waste.

Well, we at the Let’s Go Thrifting blog salute you. But…when it comes to the thrift store, we might need to discuss when to draw the line between potential donations and pure dreck.

Firstly, let’s think positive. Donating unwanted items to a nonprofit thrift store benefits the community. Your unwanted goods become low-cost stock for people who may not be able to afford otherwise. Or, conversely, people who choose to look for bargains and bizarre finds. Those sales then treat the sick and provide shelter to the poor. So, kudos to you for cleaning out your closet and sending it to to your local Goodwill.

But when you are digging through last season’s trends and bagging them for donation, there are certain items that just shouldn’t be sent to the thrift, EVER.
    • Used underwear
    • Used jockstraps
    • Soiled or stinky clothes
    • Garbage
Though secondhand briefs and other assorted undergarments do occasionally make it the sales floor, it’s doubtful there’s a high demand for them from even the most frugal of thrift customers. So send your skivvies to the landfill.

But let’s not be too hasty. There are many a good fashion find in your local thrift store. So imagine the disappointment when you come across the perfectly retro polyester shirt only to find a pair of big ol’ sweat stains under the sleeves. And this does happen. Thrift store staff either don’t notice or don’t care for the apparel’s appearance. But shoppers do. And donors should too. So, please, don’t insult secondhand shoppers with something stained or smelly. Just let the garment go to the garbage bin. We promise we’ll forgive that minimal  and necessary waste.

And speaking of garbage: the staff of the Salvation Army shouldn’t have to wade through it when they’re expecting donations. I’ve seen it happen. And really, no one likes going elbow-deep in trash when they’re expecting to unearth a customer’s potential treasure. Separate your trash and donations in two different bags, and be sure to drop the right one at the curb and the right one in the donation bin.

With that being said, go ahead. Drop off your unwanted items at the thrift store. Even those hideously tacky holiday sweaters. Even that decade-old Tom Clancy novel. I guarantee that someone will want ‘em. So long as they’re not stinky, stained, or draped in a old pair of Fruit of the Loom.

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