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Not so charitable charity shops

Updated: Sep 26, 2019

When it comes to getting rid of stuff, in particular, clothing, furniture, toys, linen and the like I like to donate it rather than throwing it away. In our house throwing something away that someone else could possibly use is the last resort if we really can't recycle, resell or reuse it. Just this year through an incident occurred that made me question whether or not some charity shops are becoming too choosy with the items they take.

We donated a huge bin liner full of really good quality clothing items to a new charity shop that just opened up near us, some clothing items were the designer label from before I met hubby, he had and still does have an amazing sense of style. These clothes were hardly worn and really good condition, stuff I could have sold but chose to donate so that others could make use of. Before we donate anything I make sure it is clean if it is clothing items I will put them through the wash and run a lint roller over them when dry because we have cats.

I dropped this bag off at the store to which the owner gratefully accepted them and then I left. The next day as I was walking past the store on my way to do our weekly shopping the owner of this little charity shop comes out of the store and stops me out front of the store, in front of people looking through the window to tell me that the clothes I had donated apparently smelled horrendous and were absolutely filthy so she threw the whole bag out. Never in my life have I felt both humiliated and angry like this, if anything there may have been a stray cat hair or two but not worth throwing out.

The next week after I went back and asked if they wanted to take a large box of toys from hubby's childhood, very good condition some collectable items to which she responded 'we don't sell toys here', but clearly she did as there were a large teddy and a box of toys in the corner all with price tags. The owner looked me up and down with judgy eyes, the kind you get when walking into a high street store wearing paint-covered jeans looking like you could never afford anything.

Thankfully there are two other charity shops in my town and when I am not giving to them I list things on Freecycle, Preloved and Gumtree. I get why some charity shops may refuse items for health and safety reasons but I was donating really good quality clothing that could definitely be reused. Other charity shops a few towns over, I have hardly bought anything from because more and more I see that a lot of them are charging almost new prices for items when they are donated to them free.

I have worked in a few charity shops and through my experience, if something comes in and it is not broken, clearly damaged, stained beyond saving or has visible tears then we test it or wash it if it needs it and then sell it and the stores I had worked for made quite a bit of money selling the clothes they got for free so doing a quick load of washing if they really needed to once and again did not burn any holes in their pockets.

I believe that it's this kind of attitude and pickiness from charity shops that will turn people away from donating. I want to say to you don't be put off by a staff members attitude towards your donations instead donate somewhere else, there are so many charity shops across the UK that need good quality clothing and would be grateful for your donations.

Also, there is nothing wrong with buying second hand or learning to mend something old rather than getting rid, but if you have to get rid of household goods, clothing items and such don't throw them away donate them. There are even options to send clothes to other countries where clothing items are greatly appreciated by those less fortunate than us, countries that don't have a Marks & Spencer's.

The more clothes and goods we recycle the better our planet will be as there won't be as much demand for brand new clothing, thus reducing the impact on the environment from chemical pollution and wastage. It is estimated that almost 235 million items of clothing will end up in landfill each yeah most of which is probably still very much of use to someone.

Do you donate your second-hand goods? Have you ever had a bad experience with charity shops?