What Not To Donate @ Op-Shops

We’ve been doing another round of de-cluttering around the house post-Christmas, we go by the usual system – three piles for keep, throw out and donate. Many charitable organizations rely on the public’s donations in order to support themselves and whilst donations are always welcomed and encouraged, there are a few items that should not be placed in the donation pile.

Last year Australians donated over 300,000 tonnes of items to charity op-shops, 60,000 of which ended up in landfill at a significant cost to the organisation. This is what makes this list important as donating inappropriate goods can actually be counterproductive at times. (Thoughtful Donations: What Not to Give to a Charity Op-Shop, 2013)

LittlePop has volunteered at an op-shop before and this allowed us to be more aware of what is and isn’t appropriate to donate to op-shops. We understand that not everyone has this knowledge and so thought we would compile a list to share with our readers šŸ™‚

We also thought this would be relevant because of the holiday period that’s just passed, I estimate many people are also in the midst of de-cluttering a little bit. We have noticed quite an influx of unopened or almost new items laying around at our local op-shops, I assume these to be unwanted Christmas gifts – which is unfortunate. I am thankful though that they are being given a second chance rather than ending up in landfill.

WHAT SHOULD NOT BE DONATED AT OP-SHOPS – OR CAREFULLY EXAMINED PRIOR TO DONATING

  1. Soiled or damaged undergarments – it may be surprising to some of us but this is very common. Be carefull when donating these items, for sanitary reasons there are very specific guidelines about which ones can be put up for sale. Ideally these would be hardly worn, or new and they should always be clean – most of the people who work at op-shops are volunteers, they don’t want to be going through piles of crusty strangers underwear.
  2. Books, DVDs, CDs, records, tapes and VHS – some of these are fine for donation, in fact they are fine for donation provided they are still in good condition. The reason I put these on the list is more because of the rate of which they are bought vs how many of them are donated. These items are a bit harder to re-sell, I’m not really sure why but it almost certainly has a lot to do with the digitization of media as well as the fading out of certain technologies such as video players, record players and tape players. Children’s books, DVDs and CDs do have a higher rate of sale provided they are in reasonable condition because most parents know their kids will be chewing on, throwing and (hopefully not) but occasionally ripping books over time, so it is a good way to save a bit of $$$
  3. Electrical Goods – in order to re-sell electrical goods you need a special license, and a lot of places do not have this. It is also very risky as all these items must be carefully inspected for defaults, water damage etc… they don’t want a law-suit on their hands for someone being electrocuted! Some places do have specialists who come in once a week to provide minor fixes to various items. It’s best to check this out with your local op-shop before donating, they’ll be great full you did šŸ™‚
  4. Toys – Toys can be tricky as they have to be inspected to make sure they still have all their parts before selling. If the sorter has not come across this toy before it can be difficult to make a judgement on this.

I think that’s the end of our list for now…

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Charities report increase in junk dumped, and more people taking items from the front of stores

The main thing to keep in mind is Op shops are not dumping grounds, it may save you $$$ by avoiding charges at the local tip, but all you are really doing is passing that cost on to others who are not responsible for it.Ā  You’re better off making use of local hard rubbish services in the area, or listing things like electrical goods on eBay. The op shop you give these things to is paying a significant amount of money every year to remove our unusable/unsaleable items which are dumped at the front of the shop or in their bins.Ā  We have many op shops around us and its frustrating to see the loads of stuff left on their door steps every night, we have also noticed that passers by often come down after the shops are closed and go through these bags – taking them for free and making even more mess for volunteers to clean up.

Our golden rule is ‘if you wouldn’t give it to a friend, it belongs in the bin’

Do you have any advice on giving to op-shops? or alternate ways of getting rid of things?
Little & Big xxx

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Day seven: gift ideas we love

Make someoneĀ else’sĀ day. Make a difference !

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Australians spend an estimated $30 billion on Christmas gifts each year, and some $700 million worth of unwanted gifts are expected to be in landfill by February, FEBRUARY… that’s just 5 weeks post christmas. I would rather give a gift that lasts than something that ends up taking up space in landfill and/or polluting our oceans. I know some of my hand crafted gifts might not be things that you can be sure will be kept forever (or at least a significant period of time), but at least I’mĀ trying to extend the life of something which would otherwise be on the fast track to the trash.

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I feel like we are often pressured by marketing companies to buy as many gifts as possible, and this promotes an unsustainable quantity over quality attitude towards gift giving. Since starting BNN we have become largely focussed on our immediate needs, an example is my christmas list this year which contained items such as a hose, a cordless drill and a dandelion remover tool (yes that’s a real thing!) I know this sounds like a lame excuse for christmas gifts but the thing is that I genuinelyĀ need those things and they will be something I can actually use… much better than some plastic reindeer that poops jellybeans then ends up gathering dust in my room the next day. The truth is that pre BNN my list would include lots of things I don’t necessarily need, but not this year. I sort of feel as though the pooping reindeer would be taking two steps back after putting in so much work trying to simplify our lives and get rid of all our junk (this is still a work in progress), we are trying to moveĀ forward.

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On the other hand I’m all for getting pampered and indulging in a little luxury every now and then. Everyone deserves a little indulgence from time to time, heck I get my nails done twice a month and my sister is always saying ‘isn’t that counted as buying something new?’ (they are acrylics) to which i reply ‘yes they are new’ and I know it is completely the opposite of what BNN is about but It is an exception I make for myself, I take my BNN challenge seriously but I do want to let out the inner girly girl in myself every once in a while and I think this is a small price to pay.

On Big Pops side of the family we have a large brood: 2 grandparents, 4 children, 3 spouses, 10 grandchildren, one great-granddaughter and various great aunts and second cousins make appearances from time to time. For a long time Christmas was pretty crazy for all of us with wrapping paper everywhere and I did feel at times like you barely had a chance to actually take your time and enjoy the gift before another one was thrown in your lap… the excitement of the gifts at times felt like it took time away from our ability to enjoy the moment and actually accept and thank those who gave it to us. This year seeing as most of the grandchildren are now young-adults we have all been put in a Kris Kringle together and so this year we each have to buy one gift instead of our parents feeling pressure to buy a gift for each of us. This saves everyone money and since we will be giving and given fewer gifts I hope we all have much more time to enjoy our gift, check it out think of all the things you could use it for.

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The last few years I’ve had a running joke with my sisters over christmas and birthdays as a few years ago I started requesting charity donations to Oxfam or World Vision instead of physical gifts. They found this funny at first and asked what I would like, to which I replied ‘well IĀ have always wanted a goat..’.

My younger sister bought me a duck and inside the card it said ‘I’m sorry I couldn’t afford a goat so I bought you a duck‘ I still have the card sitting on my bed head and I’m not lying when I say that sometimes I open it up and wonder what my ducks doing these days… did its recipients eat it? did they use it for its eggs? does the duck have a name, or any duck buddies? I don’t know anything about this duck… and I like it.

In all honesty at twenty one years of age I have most of the things I need in life, and receiving a charity gift is something I welcome with open arms. I know other twenty one year olds are not as lucky as me, other communities are not as lucky as us, and it makes me feel nice to know those who are less fortunate will have something to look forward to…something that would otherwise be difficult for them to acquire.

This christmas I will be giving charity gifts, because I think that although christmas is a time for giving, it is not a time for givingĀ just for the sake of it. My gifts this year will have a lot of thought put into them and I will definitely not be giving a pooping reindeer!

Big Pops take on Buying Nothing New

‘Buy nothing new for a year’, is what Little Pop wanted for her 21st Birthday. As a parent I support my child in her their pursuits, this request was more than that for me.
Two years ago I left my job of 29 years, it was always a battle for us to pay the bills anyway, but when i was offered a generous redundancy package I took it as an opportunity for us to live the life we had always dreamed of (just for a while anyway!). For the past 1.5 years since I left work we have brought what we wanted with little thought about the impact the goods we
purchased were having on the environment. There came a point when I said ‘I don’t want any more junk!

To be honest I’m not entirely sure what I buy that is so bad, but Little Pop assures me that we will be significantly decreasing our environmental footprint by doing this. We still haven’t established any definitive rules around what we can and can’t buy (although we really should get onto doing that) but I plan on buying as much food as possible from local farmers and thus reducing the environmental costs associated with spraying, transporting and packaging the foods we buy (I know this isn’t really classified as buying nothing new but I am really planning on getting back to our roots when it comes to food).

Back to buying nothing new… We are a household of two girls so as you can imagine clothes are probably the biggest product we tend to buy new. We are a household of collectors, you never know when you will need it. We went to my wardrobe tonight and found a skirt I have had since I was 17 yrs old because ‘one day I will fit it!‘.

I would like to have a go at making things like skin care products myself from locally sourced resources wherever possible.
I plan on implementing a similar strategy in regards to cleaning products although this won’t be a huge difference to the way our household operates now. Due to health reasons i am unable to use powerful chemical cleaning products so most of the time we use natural home made cleaning products anyway. those who know me knows that I love my bicarb soda and lemon juice (these two areĀ  must have for anyone looking to make their own cleaning products!) – soap flakes, natural oils and vinegar are also great! I plan on regularly putting up posts with various home made cleaning product recipes and showing the results they can have (for proof of course!) for anyone looking to take a more natural approach when it comes to the cleaning of the house.

Oh and lastly…something I’m looking forward to with ‘buy nothing new’ is de-cluttering our house! We have a third bedroom that is unusable due to’ stuff’ – note that cleaning this room does not mean buying storage solutions, but to really look at what we need and get rid of anything we no longer need.

I think our motto should be, ‘clean natural, eat in season, donate, up-cycle, recycle and live life chemical free.

Lets see how our Buy nothing new rule negotiation goes

Stay healthy and happy ..Big Pop.