We are all guilty of hoarding clothes and household goods we no longer need and this month the country's charity shops are asking the public to spring clean their houses and donate to help people in need.
More and more Australians are turning to charity op shops to buy clothes. But at the same time, new research shows that donations to charity op shops are going down.
It's leaving many of them running short of clothes and other items. Rectifying this major problem is the aim of the first National Op Shop Week. An initiative of the Do Something! charity the event runs from September 24-30.
"Charity op shops are experiencing the lowest stocks on record," said Kerryn Caulfield, CEO of the National Association of Charitable Recycling Organisations, the peak industry body representing more than 2000 charity op shops around Australia.
"When the economy is tight, most people hold onto their possessions, yet demand for charitable assistance increases.
"We would urge the Australian public to dig deep into their wardrobes and donate good quality clothing and household goods directly to their nearest charity op shops."
How can people take part in National Op Shop Week?
To make it easier to donate, 2000 Australian charity stores have been listed on Do Something's OpShopWeek.com.au website.
"Giving clothes is a great way to help out the community," said Do Something! founder Jon Dee.
"Having a spring clean for charity is a great way to clean up our wardrobe and do something good. In addition to helping those in need, donating and reusing clothes is an easy way to help the environment."
How many clothes could be donated by Australians?
New research by the British Government shows that UK consumers have £30 billion worth of clothes that they have not worn for a year hanging in their wardrobes, meaning Australians could also have billions of dollars of unused that could be donated.
Tips For Donating Clothes
Clothing donations should be clean, undamaged, and reasonably wrinkle-free. Clothing can be folded and packed in sturdy boxes or bags. Where possible avoid hangers.
Items that come in pairs (shoes, gloves, socks) should be kept together (shoe laces can be tied together, gloves and socks can be stuffed inside each other).
Pockets should be emptied and any belts securely fastened to their appropriate items.
Check your local charity store wants what you're giving them
Depending on size, logistics and location, each charity has developed its own system for dealing with donated clothing.
People who are keen to donate clothes to charity should call the charity and ask advice and/or for locations of drop off centres. In some cases they can go straight to the shop.
Some charities will pick up furniture. Overall, clothes are carefully evaluated and sorted for quality and marketability.
Do The Right Thing
Charity bins sites are often used as a dumping site for rubbish and soiled items. The cost of collection and disposal of material is a serious financial burden to the charitable institutions, effectively diverting funds from welfare programs into waste disposal costs.
In 2008-9, Australians donated over 250,000 tonnes of items to charity op shop stores. Of that:
- 90,000 tonnes were reused by the community - either given away by charities or sold through opportunity shops
- 20,000 tonnes were recycled (for example some donations can be torn into wiper rags mainly through disability workshops
- 55,000 tonnes of low grade goods were exported to developing countries
- 88,000 tonnes were unusable and disposed of in landfill – the cost for which is borne by the charities, so it is important that only good quality items be donated to charity op shops.