An opportunity wasted

Mount Hawthorn Voice reader  SIMONE DOMINIQUE was shocked when she found out how many items donated to OP shops end up in landfill. In this week’s SPEAKER’S CORNER she asks “do you know what OP shops do with your donations?” and suggests some less wasteful alternatives.

AUSTRALIAN charities complain that they spend thousands of dollars each year disposing of unwanted donations.

What few people realise is that the so-called ‘rubbish’ are in fact often brand new and perfectly usable items.

Instead of giving these household items, toys and clothing to the many people in desperate need they go straight into landfill.

There are many kind Australians who take the time to select and deliver good quality household goods in the belief it will help people in financial need.

They would be horrified to know that even items that have never been used and still have the original price tag on them are thrown straight into the bin by OP shops.

For the last two years I have seen first-hand the unbelievable waste that is going on there.

On many occasions I have seen people pull out expensive items from a Perth OP shop dumpster, including toys in their original packaging, real pearl necklaces and an Italian designer bracelet still in its packaging, worth $168.

A kettle, never used, still had the protective plastic cover over its plug.

Books, only published last year with price tags ranging from $30 to more than $80 on the back, looked like they were fresh from the book shelves of Dymocks.

Shoes that had never been worn.

Expensive, still sealed make-up and skincare products such as Clinique and Dior and full perfume bottles.

Noticing what people retrieved from this bin alone on a daily basis, it looked like a free shopping spree at David Jones.

I tried to make the OP shop manager aware of this and asked if it was possible to take donations that they have too many of or can’t sell back to their warehouse, where people in desperate needs or other OP shops from less wealthy suburbs could choose items.

This would prevent perfectly good things from going into landfill and charities having to pay for its disposal.

The manager laughed it off by shrugging and saying that the ‘work for the dole people’ just can’t be bothered to go through the stuff properly.

On another occasion a staff member told me that if they don’t sell something within three weeks, they have to throw it out.

I was also told that the bosses at the top would not care to provide a more environmentally friendly solution, it would cost more money to organise and that it was all too much work to change things in order to help people in poorer suburbs.

Based on the large cost OP shops pay to dispose of their waste it sounds like a more viable option to change the distribution of donations.

There are people who can’t even afford to buy their children a toy, yet brand new toys, kitchen items, children’s clothing still with the original shop tag on them are on their way to landfill on a daily basis.

I am writing this letter to make people aware of the situation regarding the extreme wastefulness and urge them to donate their precious things to worthwhile charities such as The Spine and Limb Foundation in Shenton Park or Clutterbugs.com.au, a charity business of 17 years that promises never to throw anything away.

Making sure donations reach all the right sources locally as well as overseas, their belief at the core of their charity is recycling and respecting the environment as well as people in need.

Please let us put a stop to blatant waste and uncaring attitudes.

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