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LostInParadise's avatar

Are unmarked clothing drop off boxes being used for commercial purposes?

Asked by LostInParadise (28380points) February 11th, 2011

I used to think that all these boxes were for charities, but then I got to wondering why they do not tell who they belong to. I did a Google search and found this

If there is no indication of who is responsible,should we assume that it is a commercial enterprise? There is one of these boxes at my local library. I naively assumed that the box is being used for charitable purposes and put some old clothing in it., Now I am thinking that maybe it is commercially run.

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20 Answers

bobbinhood's avatar

Most charities put their names all over things because many people like to support charity. It seems like companies are the only ones who would not benefit from boldly proclaiming what they intend to do with the clothing. Thus, it is reasonable to assume that any drop box that is not clearly labeled as belonging to a particular charity does not belong to charity.

marinelife's avatar

It is despicable, because it takes advantage of others, like you, who just assume it is for a charity.

SmashTheState's avatar

Even the clothing which does get collected by charities is often exploited commercially. Because they collect so much, the charities can’t use even a significant fraction of it. It is sold by the tonne and packed into shipping containers, then transported to developing nations where the clothing is sold at an enormous mark-up on the open market.

john65pennington's avatar

Are you familiar with Goodwill Industries? They make millions in profits each year off of contributions from you and I. This is not all. Most of the “good stuff” is set aside and offered on Ebay. Any comments?

marinelife's avatar

@john65pennington What’s wrong with that? The money is going into the charity.

john65pennington's avatar

They are suppose to be a non-profit organization.

iamthemob's avatar

@john65pennington – Non-profits are still designed to make money – they generate revenue for payroll, advertising, etc. But profits that aren’t used for the operation of the company must be used for the cause, and not distributed to the owners – that’s the difference between nonprofs and for-profits.

@marinelife – I don’t see how it’s despicable. To be honest, most people donating clothes want convenience. I have, regrettably, thrown away a lot of clothes because there was no way to get rid of them without a hassle. The act is, on the whole, a balance between convenience and benefit. I think that the commercial enterprise has some great potential benefits as well.

@SmashTheState – You bring up an important point about the mark-up. But there’s nothing wrong with the mark-up until we show that it’s exploitative. The environmental benefits that come from the repackaging and redistribution of consumer goods at a reduced price rather than the production of new cheap consumer goods (which results in the exploitation of developing world labor forces) can’t be ignored as a factor as well. Making this a commercial enterprise doesn’t mean that harm is being done – but it does mean that as consumers and donators we need to keep our eyes on the mofos.

crisw's avatar

I am in agreement with @iamthemob here.

If you really care if the clothes go to charity, donate them directly to a charity (most thrift stores have store drop-offs.)

If you just want to get rid of them, then someone making a living from them is far better than the clothes going to a landfill.

As long as there is no active deception going on- like for-profit businesses posing as nonprofits- I don’t see a problem here.

LostInParadise's avatar

I have nothing against clothing being collected for commercial use. I do think that the boxes should be labeled, telling who is doing the collecting.

iamthemob's avatar

@LostInParadise – I understand that one might feel “tricked” in certain circumstances, but is there a real benefit to it? I feel like those who are concerned can just ask whoever’s running it who is doing the collecting.

poofandmook's avatar

What I know is that when I clean out my closet, and I have a big bag of clothes that I want to get rid of, I can take it to one of those bins and get rid of it.

Actually, last time I did that, I dumped it in a bin labeled for cloth recycling. I don’t know if that’s possible, but recycling sounds good to me.

iamthemob's avatar

@poofandmook – that sounds amazing – where do they have such a program?

poofandmook's avatar

@iamthemob: Truthfully, I’m not sure. I knew there were bins at the Home Depot near where I was moving, and when I got there, I happened to notice that they were labeled for cloth recycling. If I’m ever in that area again, I’ll check for you.

faye's avatar

I know that one nurse’s husband paid for rags to use in his garage, maybe that’s the recycling. We have a Value Village store here. It sells second hand, sometimes new, clothes for low prices so I’m sure it is for profit. We take our clothes there and then have a shopping trip. We also have trucks that will pick up at your door. They say it’s for diabetes and that’s on the side of the truck so I do that, too. If I wanted my clothes to go to help in Africa, I’d hate for them to be sold at expensive prices.

Bun's avatar

Planet Aid distributes clothes and shoes to third world countries, if you happen to have one of their bright yellow bins in your local area (their site says they are in 20 states).

bobbinhood's avatar

@Bun According to the link provided by the OP, only 11% of Planet Aid’s income goes to charity and they are allegedly linked to criminal organizations.

Bun's avatar

@bobbinhood Oof, did not know that, my bad.

YARNLADY's avatar

@john65pennington I believe you are using the word profit incorrectly. Goodwill and other similar charities make revenue from their enterprises, and the revenue is used to support their charitable works.

@LostInParadise Do not assume that any thrift drop off box is charity unless it specifically says so. All charities are clearly identified.

casheroo's avatar

We live down the road from a Goodwill Donation site, I go there about three times a month..I find myself constantly trying to get rid of clothing. I see nothing wrong with that.
I don’t understand the unmarked bins though, where do the clothes go? Prior to living near a donation center, I usually went to a bin that was labeled a specific charity.

YARNLADY's avatar

@casheroo There are many for profit re-sale shops that collect free clothing and other used goods and sell them for a profit. You can find second hand shops all over your town, but only the ones that identify the charity are actually charity thrift shops.

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