Lifeline urges people not to dump clothing outside bins after charities inundated
Clothing dumped outside donations bins are considered contaminated and are likely to end up in landfill. (ABC News: Brittney Kleyn)
Some charities are resembling a dump site after being inundated with unwanted goods in the post-Christmas clean out.
Lifeline estimates half its stores across the country have stopped accepting donations, due to storage restrictions.
But the plea from the charity group has not stopped people dumping their goods in and around already overflowing donation bins.
Jamie Mackay from Lifeline said the littering, which can be classified as illegal dumping, is heartbreaking.
“We collect these donations to raise funds for a great cause to help save lives,” he said.
“Unfortunately, quite often we can’t use them because we classify them as contaminated. They’ve been in the weather, the rain.”
It is estimated around half of the Lifeline charity stories are not accepting donations at the moment. (ABC News: Stephen Cavenagh)
Jodie Garrity was trying to drop her goods at a site in Brisbane and said the bins had been overflowing every day she drove past.
“We came yesterday and bought a whole bag of clothes and stuff like that and the bins were empty and now today we’ve come back and they’re filled, overflowing,” she said.
Australian charities are paying $13 million a year to send unusable donations to landfill.
The National Association of Charitable Recycling Organisations (NACRO) estimates 60,000 tonnes of unwanted items, including soiled mattresses, broken appliances and even dirty nappies are sent to landfill each year.
Mr Mackay said it imposes a massive financial burden on all charities.
“It can be as much as 30 per cent of our costs for the busy times of the year,” he said.
Where else can I take my donations?
Jane Milburn said sharing and revamping old clothes is a good alternative to dumping goods at overstocked charities. (ABC News: Brittney Kleyn)
Residents can drive to their local waste facility and pay a small gate fee (some are also free, depending on the council) to dump items that are not appropriate to be donated.
Lifeline has distribution centres in each state with the capacity to continue taking donations during this busy time of year.
Some stores will also attempt to take the donations over the counter, if the bins are overflowing.
Sustainability consultant Jane Milburn said charity-run thrift stores were too often the easy option.
“I think that’s the traditional way that we’ve recycled clothing and we should send our best stuff there,” she said.
But Ms Milburn encouraged donors to do their research, especially women, suggesting other charities that may be able to make use of unwanted items.
Not-for-profit group It’s in the Bag collects unwanted handbags filled with sanitary items for underprivileged women, while Dressed for Success collected business attire from around the country to support “people on their journey to secure lasting employment.”
Charities are urging people not to dump clothing and items outside donation bins. (ABC News: Penny Timms)
Is there anything else I can do with my ‘unwanted goods’?
Ms Milburn, who has spent years upcycling clothing and furniture, said creating new items from old was a worthy investment.
“We’re realising that we’ve got to do more recycling for ourselves and reusing and creating,” she said.
“When you invest a little bit of time, things mean more to you and until you do that, you actually are a bit ruthless with your resources.”
Ms Milburn encouraged people to be creative about their upcycling saying she even used damaged garments that would deteriorate over time as mulch in her garden.
Textiles donated to Australian charities are often destined for landfill. (ABC News: Amy Bainbridge)
She has also revamped an old pair of jeans and a rice carrier as a shopping bag, given single-use plastic bags are now illegal in Queensland.
Ms Milburn suggested finding other people who are renovating furniture, even craft groups or kindergartens that would accept donations.
“It’s about being creative and it’s about investing time, there’s actually no getting away from that,” she said.