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Tony Grist

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Clothing Collections [Sep. 1st, 2010|11:05 am]
Tony Grist
We get two or three leaflets a week asking us to put bags of used clothes on the curb for "charities" to collect. These collections are so frequent you'd think they'd have long since trawled the streets bare- but I suppose we're a society that is always buying new, always getting rid.  I put "charities" inside inverted commas because most of these outfits aren't charities at all. Read the small print on the leaflet I've got in front of me now and you see it's not really from The Tree of Hope children's charity but from a commercial business called SOS Clothes Ltd, which merely promises to give £2000 per month to The Tree of Hope.

Once in a while we have a big clear-out and then we'll put out a bag. We put one out yesterday for The Air Ambulances- or their agents. They said they'd collect between 8 and 3, but the bag was still there in the evening. We decided to leave it overnight and by morning someone had snapped it up- possibly SOS Clothes, possibly some other band of businessmen. We'll never know.

But at least it was off our hands. Besides, as Odi has told us, the clothes that are harvested in this way- no matter by whom- all end up in the markets of the Third World, where they are sold for very little to people like her who are happy to have them. OK, so the business isn't quite as selfless as the people who run it would have us believe- but stuff is being recycled (which is good, yes?) and there are satisfied punters at either end of the chain.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: aellia
2010-09-01 10:09 am (UTC)
We had the SOS one yesterday. I meant to have had a look at the website that was printed on there but have thrown it away.
Most of my stuff gets taken to Barnados charity shop. Except for things like pushchairs as they sell everything for £1.49
x
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2010-09-01 10:30 am (UTC)
We drop quite a lot of stuff off at Oxfam- which has collection bins in the parking lot of our local supermarket.
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[User Picture]From: veronica_milvus
2010-09-01 12:37 pm (UTC)
In my experience nobody EVER picks these bags up and they remain sodden and decaying on the doorstep. I take my stuff down to the Oxfam shop.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2010-09-01 01:44 pm (UTC)
More often that not we drop our unwanted stuff at the Oxfam bins in the supermarket car park.
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[User Picture]From: pondhopper
2010-09-01 01:16 pm (UTC)
We get the same kind of leaflets here and maybe I'm cynical but I never figured they went directly to the charities mentioned. A lot of it does end up in Third World markets but I suppose that even though somebody is profitting it does eventually go the people who need the clothing. I've always thought it would be interesting to follow one of the bags of clothing to its end destination.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2010-09-01 01:46 pm (UTC)
You're right, that would make an interesting TV documentary.

I don't really grudge the Del Boy types their profit. I think on balance they're doing something useful.
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[User Picture]From: heleninwales
2010-09-01 01:50 pm (UTC)
I never put stuff out for those collections, though as you say, they probably do end up being useful and though people are making money, they are recycling the clothes.

To be honest, by the time I've finished with clothes, they're usually only fit for dusters! But anything that is good enough to pass on, for example the occasional, "Why on earth did I by that?" item, gets taken to the Red Cross shop in town.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2010-09-01 02:44 pm (UTC)
Most of our stuff goes to the Oxfam bins in the supermarket car park.
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[User Picture]From: petercampbell
2010-09-01 05:38 pm (UTC)
The charity shops can use the really tatty clothes as well - they're sent to be pulped and are used for the likes of insulating walls, or can be reformed to produce a brand new piece of clothing (probably that same "Why on earth did I by that?" item you've just donated to the Red Cross shop...)
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[User Picture]From: endlessrarities
2010-09-01 07:30 pm (UTC)
And if it's too rubbish to be sold as clothing, it gets recycled as industrical rags for the construction industry.

I worked with a piling crew once, and the stuff they had coming out of their industrial rags bag always made me smile. I'm sure there were some lovely clothes there once...
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2010-09-02 08:10 am (UTC)
As long as these things don't go straight
into landfill I'm happy.

We're a terribly wasteful culture.
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[User Picture]From: endlessrarities
2010-09-02 05:47 pm (UTC)
It's disgraceful, really. I suppose if some of us at least try and do our bit! My dad's a dreadful hoarder - has loads of rubbish stashed everywhere. The good news is that because he's so bad at chucking things away, I've been able to put lots of packaging and things in for recycling rather than having it going into landfill like it would have done ten, five or even two years ago. So it's been quite a positive thing!!
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2010-09-03 08:51 am (UTC)
I could easily become a hoarder- and have to fight hard against the tendency. The recycling culture helps. I feel bad about throwing things away (what if I hurt their feelings?) but if I know they're going to a good home it eases my conscience.
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[User Picture]From: endlessrarities
2010-09-03 06:53 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I'm a bit like that. Ascribing animist tendencies to random objects around the house...
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[User Picture]From: silverhawkdruid
2010-09-03 11:24 am (UTC)
We get those through our letterbox every couple of weeks too. At least one of those outfits has been outed as not doing what they claimed. They said they gave money to a specific charity but the charity itself says they have never received a penny from them. That is why I only put our stuff out for charities I know are legit.
Apart from anything else these people who are supposedly 'middle men' for the charities are making money out of what I have so generously donated for free, and that isn't right in my book. I have also challenged an unmarked van picking up bags and asked to see their paperwork. (They were legitimate collectors.) I used to manage a charity shop and I have strong feelings about peoples generosity not being taken advantage of. :-)
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2010-09-04 09:08 am (UTC)
Mind you, the big charities also spend a lot of money on themselves- on swanky offices, directors' salaries, high-profile advertising and so on.

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[User Picture]From: silverhawkdruid
2010-09-04 09:30 am (UTC)
Oh, I agree that all is not rosy in a lot of charity HQs. I worked for Mind. I visited the London office once as part of a team building exercise, and the offices were functional but obviously not overdone, which I was pleased about. As far as I know Mind are one of the better charities when it comes to the admin side.
Also, our local shop directly supported our local Mind centre. To get that involved was a real eye-opener, and made the job very satisfying because I could see for myself how we were helping.

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