A wave of decluttering is sweeping the nation. St Vincent de Paul has reported a 38% increase in donated goods in some areas compared with the same time last year. However much of this is, frankly, junk. “Donating” broken, shabby or useless items only shifts the cost of sorting and sending it to landfill onto charities, which the National Association of Charitable Recyclers has reported collectively costs A$13 million a year.
Here’s how to make sure your Marie Kondo-inspired tidying spree doesn’t create a bigger mess for someone else to sort out.
Charities don’t need your trash
Giving your excess to charities to find a new life is a great idea, in principle. But with the rise of fast fashion, fast furniture, and fast electronics, charities are being inundated with goods that are unsaleable or downright rubbish.
It can be tempting to think struggling people should be grateful for any sort of serviceable items, even if they’re old-fashioned, shabby or a bit grubby. But these people have self-respect, and deserve it from us.
Further, most donated items are not actually distributed directly to people in need. Unpublished research by the Institute for Sustainable Futures found major Australian charities often only give 5-10% of donated items directly to clients. Instead, most items are sold through op-shops to raise money to fund their social services. This means donated items need to be attractive enough for people to willingly buy them.