Charities beg America to stop giving them trash

Originally published at: Charities beg America to stop giving them trash | Boing Boing


In high school I had a friend who proposed the idea of a Badwill box - someplace you could donate your rusty nails, used syringes, and ammunition that didn’t fit your gun. More or less how America views the rest of the world. What, our trash isn’t good enough for you?


everyone knows you need replacement parts to keep your barbie army on a ready footing. sheesh. at least any big sib with a little sib who rips off barbie limbs knows it.


Even some of the stuff that isn’t hazardous is still hazardous.


The good news is that soon Mattel will recycle your dismembered Barbies:
Toys are notoriously hard to recycle so hopefully they expand this to all their toy lines.

Also, I was supposed to be productive today but I read this and now I wanna go to Goodwill.


PSA: Goodwill is a grift that endangers and abuses disabled and indigent employees, pays less than minimum wage to thousands of workers (in many cases less than $1/hr) and, as @RickMycroft points out, exports their trash to developing nations which has numerous negative consequences. Their charitable work accounts for less than 1/8 of their total expenditures and much of it is underwritten by government grants. But their executives make bank!


That happened in Ontario, where Goodwill abruptly closed in bankruptcy. It turned out that the executives did quite well, while the workers didn’t get all their pay owed.


The social, political and environmental consequences of western society’s quest for more stuff are horrifying.


You kid, but my wife is using about 20 barbies at this very moment to teach math/physics/engineering to her middle school class. It’s call “Thrill her, don’t kill her.” Today is the final test. Many a barbie (and not a few kens) will die today. She wouldn’t mind having some spare parts.

Funny thing is, she has to strip them all naked and then re-clothe with duct tape. Otherwise the kids strip the clothes off and do bad bad things. The duct tape also holds additional weights. So she’s got a box of barbies and kens looking like some sort of mid-holocaust toga party.

I saw that movie!


Things like partially dismembered dolls are A-OK if you can sell them for cheap in a thrift outlet, plenty of Goodwill’s have “by the pound” places, and art school students and crafters can make good weird use of a bag of old doll parts.

Hazardous waste, not so much.


my toddler son ripping the heads off his big sis’s barbies and kens were an occasional occurrence, which ended up with me taking a tear-stained 7 year old to Toys R Us for a replacement. so was not even kidding. ask my daughter about the “Skipper incident” as it is known around here and she can give every detail. she is now 34 years old, btw.


The problem of where to dump unwanted clothes & household items, especially after the pandemic stay-at-home-watch-Marie-Kondo phase kicked in, hit me recently. (No, I didn’t watch Marie Kondo; I came to terms with my current life and realized I didn’t need business clothes or cocktail dresses anymore.)

I researched, of course, and learned that all the yellow donation boxes were charity-oriented, but in a roundabout way - they sold donations for rags and scraps and donated the proceeds to charities. No thanks.
My business wear was many years out of date (the various pieces went in and out of style, so I rotated them as needed) so Dress for Success wouldn’t take them.

I ended up donating them to the local women’s shelter, along with all the unused shampoo and lotion and stuff from hotels that had accumulated from when I traveled. I’m reasonably sure some women appreciated dress pants, blazers, and blouses in the large end of misses sizes for work or interviews.

If you find yourself wanting to donate clothes rather than throw them away (directly or thru some charity), check your local homeless shelters. A lot of people are thrown into homelessness through circumstance or abuse, and arrive with only the clothes on their back.


Thanks for sharing that article. I learned enough to reinforce my desire to donate to independent charities instead where possible.

I treat Goodwill as a recycler more than a reseller. They have access to networks that the smaller independent places don’t, so they can accept more and don’t have to throw out as much stuff.

The linked article implies that everything not sent overseas goes into the landfill.

If Goodwill can’t sell your clothes, it ships them to sell to third world countries overseas … if that doesn’t happen, they go to a landfill.

But following their own reference link,

Beyond that, 30 percent of donated clothes at S.M.A.R.T. get cut into rags for industrial use, and 20 percent is processed into a soft fiber filling for furniture, home insulation, car sound-proofing and more.
[only 5 percent of donated clothes end up in landfills]
… you should never, ever throw your clothes in the garbage

At any rate, the main takeaway is still totally valid: don’t donate nonresellable nonrecyclable stuff.


Oh, that reminds me! We lived in the desert near a landfill. Sometimes people would chose to dump stuff in an arroyo (dry stream bed) instead of paying the dump fee. As kids, this meant all sort of fun discoveries. One day, while walking the dog, it was dozens of dolls. The dog (half lab, half great dane) absolutely shredded a stuffed cloth Ronald McDonald (probably worth a fortune on Ebay now days). And then he tool a liking to a barbie. Out of years of exploring the desert, it’s the only thing the dog ever brought home … but only the head.

Damn dog loved that barbie head. He’d sit and comb his teeth with her hair, toss her in the air and catch her, even sleep with her. You’d say "Where’s barbie, and that giant dog would go tearing all over the place and then come running back with that head, plop down, and gently comb her hair. Probably for at least a decade.

Maybe your son instinctively knew the same thing our dog did: The best part of Barbie is the head and you can ditch the body.

One man’s trash is another dog’s treasure.


Goodwill is a for-profit business, not a charity. And I have zero issue with people dropping their unsorted junk on them, and letting them figure out what’s sellable, what can be recycled, and what goes into the landfill. That’s what they do. Beggars can’t be choosers, and all that.


I looked it up and… it is not actually a for-profit business, it’s non-profit. Which is just another data point in my quest to get people to realize that “non-profit” is a misnomer (in popular usage), even for charities; they are quite often run for certain executives’ and employees’ benefit/gain, regardless if those gains aren’t technically “profits”.


I used to work for a disability organization, and ‘supported’ two guys to manage and empty half a dozen clothing bins for Value Village (analog to Goodwill).

For the most part we didn’t get junk, but it did happen. The amazing parts to me were the volume (some bins we had to empty twice/day) and the type of stuff that would come through. One rich neighbourhood had a continuing stream of high value things (i.e. new-in-box Mahnolo Blahnik shoes, a stack of them, brand new clothes with labels on, endless good runners etc).

All of it was sold to Value Village by the ton, and then they sold it onwards. Rags and torn ‘unsellable’ clothes would be baled and shipped abroad to be shredded and made into felt etc. Anything remotely saleable would be put on the store floor for 6 weeks, then leftovers would get the bale and ship treatment.

Some percentage of the money went to various disability organizations. Much of it went to the managers of said organizations. The guys received hourly pay. My wage was paid by someone else.

It all ended after a rash of ‘man dies trying to steal from clothing bin and getting trapped’ events.


I recycle most of my worn out clothes as rags – important with an aging and incontinent cat. Trouble is, we have a number of clothing items that simply don’t ‘spark joy’ any more (in good shape but unworn), but I don’t know if they will end up used or in the landfill if I donate them.

Goes along with people who are dumping rubbish and unrecyclable books on the libraries.


We’ve done some work for Goodwill. They’re exempt from sales tax in one of the states where we have a physical presence. They use .org in their domain and their website states that they are a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit.

I’m not saying they’re fantastic, but they’re considered a nonprofit with the IRS.

ETA: (fixed) typo


Don’t donate to the salvation army either. They spend a lot of money on anti-gay and anti-trans lobbying and both discriminate against gay people and trans people.