Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Getting Rid of Stuff

On Facebook, The Queensland Police Service posted an update in which they told people, that at the evacuation centers, The Red Cross  is accepting monetary donations only.  At this point, they can't accept donation of goods.

Some people are very bothered by this.

One commenter says they should be accepting goods for the poor people that have lost everything.   

Another commenter replies that The Red Cross does accept donations at their regular opt shops.    Here's the link to that.   

SO if someone really has absolutely no money to spare, and lots of crap they no longer want, they CAN help out in that way.

Another guy (or woman) says, I agree with Steven, with what has gone on and with people who don't have anything at all left, how can the Red Cross turn away donations of goods???

I think the thing that some people don't realize is that there is already SO much stuff out there.

Anyone who visits op shops will know this.  I've never seen a thrift store (op shop) that is not overflowing with stuff.   

Our society consumes excessively. We buy.  We buy some more.  We buy more and more, and we then have no more room in our closets and drawers. Some of the stuff is nice, and we've just outgrown it. So we give it away, and it MIGHT be of value to someone else. might hang on the store rack for a long time.    

Then a lot of people have stuff to get rid of that is NOT so nice. They made a mistake buying it, or they were a victim of a bad birthday gift.  Whatever.  They don't want it in their house, but they don't want to throw it in the trash.  They donate it to charity.  That way it will go to a better home.   Beggars can't be choosers they say. Or they say, one man's junk is another man's treasure.

Sometimes the treasure thing is very true. That's why eBay and garage sales are so successful. But sometimes, one man's junk is junk to most other people as well.

I'm sure there will be people needing clothes after the flood. Some will have lost everything, or almost everything.  But there is probably enough stuff already donated out there. If all this stuff runs out, then charities can start asking for more donations.

When I was in college, I started shopping at thrift stores. My sister questioned this practice. She accused me of taking from people who need it more.  My feeling was the store has so much stuff.   It's not as if I'm leaving the place empty.  And I don't think the main purpose of thrift stores is to provide goods for the poor.  It's to raise money for various organizations.  I think the fact that struggling people can buy stuff at low cost is a side benefit.   

As I got older, and learned about excessive consumerism, I felt further validated in my choice to shop at thrift stores.

What's that thing....reduce, reuse, and recycle. The best is reducing.  It would be nice if we all stopped buying so much stuff.  But I doubt that's ever going to happen.  So the next best thing is to reuse stuff.  When you shop at a thrift store, you're reusing. You're preventing something from going to waste.

I may be wrong, and others may disagree with me.....But I think I do more good when I shop at the thrift store than when I donate to the thrift store. And we DO donate stuff, mostly clothes.     Otherwise, our closets would be too crowded. When I give clothes to the thrift store, I think they're doing US more of a favor than we're doing them.

Now I'm not saying it's completely worthless to donate stuff.  It's better than letting stuff go to waste. It's better than filling more landfills.  If the thrift store became empty, it would be very unfortunate.   But I think it would also be unfortunate if not enough people shopped at the stores.

As for the flood, I do understand that some people are low on cash, and they want to do something.   But really. How about just giving one dollar?   It's not much, but if a thousand people give just one dollar....that's a thousand dollars.

Or let's say someone is in need of a new shirt. Instead of going to Target and buying one for $40, they can go to the thrift store and buy one for four dollars. Then they can take the money that they saved and donate it to the flood.

Now there IS another reason people prefer to donate goods rather than money. There's the fear the money won't go to the right places/people/services  That's a WHOLE other issue. I think most charities do try to do their best in using the money to actually help those in need.  Sometimes things get mismanaged.   That's annoying.    Hopefully, most of the Queensland money will be used in helpful ways. I have faith that for the most will be put to good use.   

Back to donating to the evacuation centers....   There's some good comments about WHY they're not accepting donations.  One woman says, I worked at an evacuation centre during the Canberra Bushfires, it gets very crowded and generous people kept bringing things for those in need, but essentials like food were already covered for those being evacuated, storing the goods just meant that there was less room for people, plus the problem of having to possibly evacuate the evacuation centre! 

That makes sense.  It does seem to me that food would be needed.  But perhaps they already have enough donations?   And someone else in the comments says, if everyone were to donate pasta sauce and no one donated pasta the sauce would be somewhat useless. Crude example but it indicates the point. 

I'm guessing they serve meals at these centers. It's probably easier to go out and buy the needed ingredients for a dinner that will serve everyone....rather than having a can of this and can of that.   

Edited To Add-I was just excessive shopping takes the form of books. I buy so many of them. I mostly buy them used, so that's one good thing.  The problem is it's very hard for me to find new homes for them.  The library doesn't seem overly eager to take them.   That's frustrating, but somewhat understandable.   They want NEW books, probably because that's what most people want to check out. They want the popular books of 2010, not the out of print books of 1985.   

My friend and I were recently talking about how hard it is to find people who want our books. So many people that I know don't even like reading.  Or if they do, they only read a few books a year.   They don't have time to read the extras I give them.  Then there's the fact that so many people are now switching to electronic reading.

Sometimes I leave my books in hotel rooms, airplanes, etc.   I'm hoping someone finds the book, and I'm hoping they read it, and enjoy it.  But there's a chance that someone will just toss it in the trash.  Or they'll be kind enough to send it to a thrift store. And it might sit there on the shelf for years.