I have been trying to figure out what I’ll do with my maternity clothes when I can fit back into my regular clothes. I can either put them on eBay, donate them to my local food bank/clothes closet, or see if someone at church needs them. I’ll probably see if the clothes closet needs them (I used to volunteer there and still do their website and their eBay stuff so I don’t mind asking if they actually need something or if they’re “full” for the present.) If they don’t, I’ll check at church, then eBay as a final resort. Maternity clothes are so expensive and it’s hard to make money on clothes on eBay anyway, so I would rather have them go to someone who could use them around here.
Anyway, driving to church yesterday (Happy late Mother’s Day!), I found what I thought was a stain on my slacks (why is it so hard to find maternity skirts? and why are the dresses so ugly?). It must have been water because it wasn’t there later, but at the time, I thought, “Well, I guess I won’t be donating these.”
Donating your gently used clothing is a good way to bless others and reduce trash. However, if it needs to go in the trash, please put it there. There was a time in my life when I could only afford to shop at thrift stores. I was working in an office, so I needed more than the torn t-shirts and faded jeans you find at most thrift stores (at least that’s the way it used to be. It’s not quite so bad these days). I managed to find a few blouses, skirts and slacks here and there. What I NEVER found: a white blouse without a stain on the front. First, the shirts should never have been donated. If you wouldn’t wear it, why assume someone else will? It’s even worse if you’re donating to a clothes closet where people get free clothes. 99% of the people there are already swallowing their pride to ask for help for their families. (There are a few who are taking advantage and working the system, but not many.) They should at least be able to select from decent, wearable clothing.
Second, the workers should never have put stained clothing out. It’s a waste of time and space to put out clothing that no one will buy or choose anyway. My local clothes closet does take care not to put out torn, stained or unwearable clothing. Why bother?
If you think something needs to go in the trash rather than the donate box, it probably does. Even if people are desperate, they deserve to keep their dignity. Offering them stained and torn clothing does not do that.
Clothes closets and thrift stores have to pay for their trash collection, too. And whether they throw it away when they get it or after it doesn’t sell for two years, it still takes up room in their dumpsters. Shouldn’t they keep that space for trash generated there, not your house?
Fortunately, I haven’t done this personally, but several of my fellow volunteers have opened bags of donated clothes that were mildewed or otherwise ruined in some way. Oddly the people who donate this type of junk are usually the ones who make very sure they get a receipt for their donation.
Donations of wearable, gently used clothing, linens and other items are always welcomed, but donations of trash are not.