Would you buy that? Your guide to donating or dumping

Wade Piva General Manager Business Development
Wade Piva General Manager, Business Development
11 April 2020
A woman donates goods in a cardboard box to a member of our op shop team

Confused about whether to donate that old furniture piece to the op shop or dump it in the tip? Wade Piva, our General Manager Business Development and former Op Shops Manager gives us the lowdown on goods we can accept and those we can’t.

School holidays and long weekends are often cherished, or in some cases, dreaded by families; the outcome usually depending on whether you enquire at the outset or the end of the holiday period.  Almost certainly, such breaks are adored by workers everywhere, as they enjoy the quieter commute to and from work during the school holidays, or the opportunity to binge on their new favourite television series over a long weekend.

But these holiday periods have a dark underbelly, which affects those people in the community who are already at the greatest disadvantage, and which many people are sadly unaware of.  It is often over these breaks, when people have a little extra time on their hands, or they’re about to host the backyard BBQ event of the year, that they choose to do a little cleaning out, in and around the house, and there is “stuff” that needs to be disposed of and quick.

One person’s rubbish is not always another person’s treasure

So the car or trailer is loaded up with long-forgotten items found deep in the depths of hallway cupboards, or which have been lying dormant, gathering dust in the garage or shed, waiting for a rainy day that came and went without notice; and rather than pay the tip fees at the local transfer station, which might also be a little bit out of the way, one can quickly reason with oneself that these items might be best left outside the local op shop as a kindly donation.

After all, if that analogue television with the wood-laminate exterior, or that armchair which the cat has used for a scratching post were of good use to me for the last twenty years, surely someone who has nothing can get some use out of them, right?  And although it looks like it might rain, I’m going to leave my donation outside of business hours, so the people who work at the op shop have a nice surprise waiting for them when they next arrive.  Problem solved and I can head home for well-earned cuppa.

Unfortunately though, one person’s rubbish is not always another person’s treasure, which is why the busted piece of furniture and box of chipped and mismatched crockery is still sitting outside the op shop when someone arrives, instead of having been carried off quietly in the still of the night by someone in need; or why that bag of clothes left at the door has now been strewn across the wet pavement and peed on by a passing Chihuahua.

Op shop dumping comes at a cost

Indeed, for Sacred Heart Mission, the dumping of rubbish on our op shops comes at a significant cost to the organisation, robbing much needed funds from the programs and services which support and enable people who are homeless and disadvantaged.  For instance, over the summer school holiday period, our weekly tip fees double, as we are forced to dispose of the unwanted goods, and the same often occurs over other holiday periods during the year.

Wherever possible, we recycle what we can, but often this is not an option due to the nature of the materials, and we’re certainly not alone when it comes to this issue: op shops across Australia are impacted by dumping, with the National Association of Charitable Recycling Organisations (NACRO) stating in an Age article that charities are losing million of dollars each year in the removal of unusable goods.

These millions of dollars are vital funds for any charity organisation within the community.  For instance, one free meal for someone in need at the Sacred Heart Mission dining hall costs the organisation $4. Now imagine we’ve had to pay an additional $400 in tip fees in one week. That’s quite a few lost meals, in a very short amount of time.

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Two rules for op shop donations

We are incredibly grateful for every quality, saleable donation we receive on a daily basis; knowing full well that such generosity is the lifeblood of our op shops and the only reason we are able to survive and benefit the charity and its users.  And in all honesty, while there is probably less than one percent of the population who are actually guilty of dumping on an op shop, to those of you who are cleaning up and clearing out over the upcoming Easter break, we ask you to simply follow these two simple rules:

  1. Only donate during business hours.
  2. Ask yourself before you donate, “Would I buy that?”  And if the answer is, “No”, then it’s probably not worth donating.