Life at No.22, Musings

Do you Donate to Charity Shops?

We all know today’s modern mantra, is to reduce, reuse and recycle. 

The rippling effect of that usually means frequenting a charity shop is high on the agenda for many folks.  If the charity shop I work in is anything to go by.  We are very busy with incoming goods and with hopefully satisfied bargain hunters along with those that believe in reusing and not buying new.

I have the privilege to work alongside a group of friendly, amazing, dedicated, hard-working women and men.  Usually, twice a week.  In my short time volunteering, I am astounded at the lack of thought put into the process of donating.

This is my opinion alone, not one that is necessarily shared by others who volunteer or work for the organisation.

Please, don’t get me wrong. 

All Charity shops are forever grateful for donations to keep going with the vital work in which the money is allocated too.  In the case of where I work, the money raised is used directly to care for people in the community with terminal illnesses and their families.

Here are some handy tips that you may want to take on board when sorting out bits and bobs while Spring cleaning.

Think Before You Drop Off

Charity Shops are not an alternative to the recycling and rubbish dump.  Many organisations have to pay for rubbish collections so when you decide to dump the unsellable items, you are adding further monetary burden to a charity cause.

Do you have an unwanted electrical good?  Well, not all stores have the resources to employ an electrician to test and tag these items.

Ask the contact person if the items you are about to drop off are actually needed.

Some stores cannot accept anything that is governed by safety standards, including prams, cots and baby seats.

Before you start to criticise how a shop is run, start a dialogue with a staff member to help shed light on how things are run and why specific procedures are in place.  Each shop is run differently with varying needs and wants.

What Op-shops and Charity shops would like:

Donate items of clothing and bric-a-brac that you would give a good friend.

Something that will make the buyer proud to show off their new purchase in their home.

Washed clothing and other washable items.

What is not so welcome

Unwearable shoes or ones that you aren’t proud to wear any longer.


Personal undergarments.  Seriously would you expect someone to wear your worn underwear?  People do bring these items in or a regular basis.

Mouldy materials that cleaning can not remove.  Some shops the volunteers will take home items to be washed, they are not paid to do this.  So, please wash all donated clothing, curtains and linen before bringing them in.

That well-loved stuffed toy that your beloved child has been sucking on for the last two years.

Boxes of winter clothing when summer is approaching.  Please donate it when summer is gone.  There is always an exception to the rule.

Remember to Keep Donating

And before you finish your Spring cleaning to turn your annual clean-out into generous donations.

Would you give it to your friend to place in their home or to wear?

Do you Donate to Charity Shops.jpg

49 thoughts on “Do you Donate to Charity Shops?”

  1. Great suggestions. I always use three bags when cleaning closets. Donate, recycle, and trash. And I try to use them wisely. If I think that I would never buy that item in a second -hand shop then it’s either trash or recycle.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Suzanne – great tips and you’re so right about people not thinking carefully about what they donate/dump at charities. It’s such a shame that a lot of the collection bins have had to be removed due to people abusing them – they made it so easy to donate without having to make a special trip in to the depot.
    Thanks for linking up with us at MLSTL and I’ve shared on my SM 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Yes, yes and yes. My daughter works part-time in administration in one of these and my husband volunteers for the same shop. The rubbish that gets left especially out of hours is ridiculous. This particular charity does pick-ups as well and very often the goods are taken straight to the tip – at the expense of the charity. What is worse is how people go at night on a weekend and pick through what has been left at the doors to on-sell at flea markets. We should donate, but yes, the goods need to be saleable – otherwise, the expense of disposing them is a cost that eats into the good the charity is able to do. #MLSTL

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Human nature is hard to work out sometimes. I suppose some feel that they are so hard done by that no one else deserves it more than them. In whatever situation arises. I refused some “stuff” someone was going to leave. They proceeded to get very annoyed as they drove off. Yes, perhaps a trip to the dump would’ve been more practical for some of their “donations”. Tauranga Council dump does have a shed where recyclable goods can be left that really aren’t worth any value to sell.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi Suzanne – I’ve donated to charity shops based on their guidelines. When I wasn’t sure, I called the shop and asked. Toronto has a strong waste management and recycling program. Of course Reduce consumption is the first step in the 3 Rs. Your tip of donating what you’d proudly give to a good friend is great. #MLSTL

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Well done on your volunteering Suz! I often have clean outs and remember what my mother used to say about things people donated. Mainly about them being clean and useable, she was very surprised with what people donated at times and not all for the good more of a dumping activity. Great tips and a worthwhile exercise for everyone. Have pinned.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Whoops, I thought I had replied to you. I have done volunteering off and on most of my life. Mostly when younger, it was to gain experience for a job. Now it’s giving back to the community and meeting people. Hope all is well with everyone.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. You are amazing, Suzanne, and all of the volunteers working in a charity shop. I imagine it can be challenging and you explain why this is the case. Very good information regarding items governed by safety standards. I also like your phrase, something you would give to a good friend. Great information and still emphasizing how donations are appreciated.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Erica, that is kind of you. I don’t see myself as amazing the organisation and what they do amazes me.
      Dealing with peoples quirky ways can be challenging with most of the time rewarding. Helps to have a healthy sense of humour 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  7. We often frequent Charity Shops, or thrift stores or second-hand shops as we call them, (they are usually related to a charity cause) to drop off clothing we don’t have any use for anymore. This is in good condition, but I’m always on a quest to downsize and don’t need or desire much clothing. Also, when we need something particular – usually clothing or dog toys – we stop at one of these store first, before shopping elsewhere (online).

    It sounds horrible what some people dump at these stores, but this doesn’t surprise me at all. 😦

    Liked by 1 person

    1. No, human nature can be so predictable especially when they can get away from paying for dumping.
      We have spent years on limited space for clothing. I love living a minimalist lifestyle though having said that now that we aren’t so mobile it is surprising me how many items of clothing I am accumulating! Though I do tend to hang onto them for quite a few years.
      It made me smile when housesitting how many toys there were for their dogs. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Great post Sue. I’m a charity shop shopper. Why buy new when there is good preloved out there, I think. Our local shops are always asking people not to use them as dumps and often turn up for work to find mountains of worthless stuff on their doorsteps. I like the question you ask, would you give it to a friend?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Wendy. It’s very disheartening to have to throw out “stuff” twice.
      Some old clothing could go to make bedding for animals. While others could be used as cleaning cloths at garages etc. Better still if they’re properly recycled instead of being dumped.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. For sure. I saw a documentary showing how much clothing was dumped every day in Australia and it was shocking. More shocking still is how many items still had tags on so had never been worn. We need a big mind shift to reduce waste.

        Liked by 1 person

  9. Great points Suzanne. I always donate any clothes that are still in good condition – washed and ironed. When I moved here 20 years ago there were no charity shops in our local town. We now have two, that are thriving. We also have large outdoor bins for items that are in not so good condition, which goes for recycling and still benefits charities.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Brigid, that’s wonderful that there are now two thriving shops. I think it’s the sign of the times that many people no longer have much disposal income and others prefer to reuse than buy new.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Fully agree Suzanne. I too work in a charity shop and although we sell unusable clothing, shoes, handbags and household textiles, as Sue says the effort in sorting to cull such items is more effort than the reward paid. However, my bigger complaint is with what we loosely term bric a brac. Good items are always popular but why do donors think we can sell chipped mugs, cracked glassware, rusted bakeware, pictures and frames that fall apart, their own recordings on cassette tapes etc, etc. and don’t get me started on half empty paint cans. The trouble is to dispose of them we have to do what the donor should have done in the first place and take them to the Council tip. Sometimes, I feel as though we are just being used to avoid fly tipping.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Absolutely agree with you, Caree. Especially regarding using the shops as fly tipping. Not all donors do this and many are very thoughtful.
      The biggest concern for us all is getting more workable recycling happening in New Zealand and further afield.


  11. I do donate my better stuff to charity shops, though normally to Oxfam which I know has the facilities to recycle what they don’t need. They can also claim tax relief on my donations and I get a statement each year on how much I have earned for them. Anything too poor to donate I put in the supermarket charity bins where I know they go straight to textile recycling. You’ve reminded me – a clear out is overdue!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I certainly frequented the Oxfam shops when we were in the UK. The key for NZ is manage more recycling. I must admit I’m very sceptical regarding recycling. In that does it really get recycled or just dumped in another country or worse into the sea?

      When I was a stewardess on a cruise liner many moons ago I literally saw the crew dumping large rubbish bags over the side once we were past the 20km zone from the nearest country.

      The tax reduction is a brilliant idea.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Tracey I was hoping it would get folk to think regarding how we dispose of our older clothing and household items. Especially donating them to charity’s.


  12. I do drop stuff off fairly regularly- every few months or so. As I work along side them as a council recycling officer, I hope I’m considerate enough in what I take.
    We are lucky here though, with recycling centres. For stuff that is not PAT tested, or too shabby to immediately sell on, we have the re-use sheds. Items dropped off there are given a fresh kick of paint, tested for safety/fixed (if possible) and sold on or donated where they are needed.
    The rest can go in the relevant skip and goes off for recycling.
    We do accept underwater in decent condition, particularly bras and children’s pants. These are washed and sold at market, predominantly in East Africa, where access & ability to buy items is limited.
    But my heart goes out to charity shops. They do a lot of really hard work, many people just don’t think, and take the easiest option. It’s basically fly tipping!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sonia, you raise some excellent valid points, regarding the use of underwear. Unfortunately, due to the travel costs of flying the stuff all the way to Africa wouldn’t viable. To be used in Africa makes sense as you say with limiting buying power they have no choice.

      We have a shed that we have put our gear in with the hope that locals will use it instead of it going into the landfill. We even let the rubbish tip guys know that we left tools in the shed so they could have first dibs on them. I don’t think they left the shed in a hurry 🙂
      If Charity shops had a separate building to upgrade furniture etc it would be ideal as they could employ people if it was cost effective.
      In the meantime I’m enjoying learning and meeting people while volunteering.


  13. I have donated many items to our local Discovery Shop (run by the Cancer Society) over the years. I’ve also bought a thing or two there at amazing prices. Your suggestions are good ones and I’m sure the shops will appreciate your gentle reminders.Oh, and if you have used linens – even ones that are worn or have holes? – take them to your local humane society.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. They always people looking for old blankets and linen for their dogs which is always gratefully received by the SPCA here in NZ. I like the title “Discovery Shop”. Not so much reminders for the shops its for the customers.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Great post Suzanne. I have been volunteering in the RSPCA OP shop in New Farm for 4 years now. I have regular customers and we have very generous donors but we also have a huge skip bin on site for the loads of junk that people drop off. Very disappointing. However, I love my day there each week.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Lyn and I too enjoy my time in the shop. Its a fun way of meeting people and giving time to a worthwhile organisation. I am thinking that many of the various organisations have regulars and many very kind donors. Just the odd one that requires a gentle reminder to think and “dumping” their unwanted goodies onto charity organisations. RSPCA as in our SPCA are wonderful and worth supporting.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. I help in a local charity shop a couple of mornings a week and we seem to have the same problems as you. We had one couple drop off 104 bags of goods from a house clearance one day. I would also ask people to consider the age of volunteers before dropping off very heavy bags.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That is a good point Anne, regarding the lifting of heavy bags. Oh my goodness, 104 bags would’ve been overwhelming. Hopefully of a good quality and snapped up quickly.


  16. Really good points, and I totally agree there needs to be some thought into what you’re actually donating because it needs to be useful and useable to the store, otherwise it’s taking more time and money for them to deal with it in an appropriate way, whether that’s recycling or otherwise. I do donate as often as I can, and always make sure it’s in good shape for someone to want to buy it. I purchase from charity shops too and have had lots of great finds over the years! 😊
    Caz xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, I really don’t think people are aware that bringing unusable items makes more work and using up money best spent else where. Lots of bargains to be had in Charity Shops or Op Shops.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Janis, it was quite a surprise for me that people brought in clothing that was more suitable to be torn into rags for dusting etc. Or even donate them to mechanics!


  17. I was head of retail for a cancer charity and these are all excellent points, Suzanne. Some shops are able to sell unusable clothing by weight for recycling… but not always and the process of sorting and bagging often outweighs any payment they get. But before sending anything to landfill, it is easy to check online whether there are any charities who will collect the unwanted items that cannot be donated to shops.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s