Charity Snowbank

I was trotting over to Bayview Arena,  the nearest clothing recycle/charity drop bin to my residence.

I like that the charity has put in a new bin last fall. This one seems to prevent people from raiding it and leaving stuff spread out all around it. Or at least, that is what I used to think.

I confess to being somewhat alarmed earlier this month to see donations spread around the bin, in dirty parking lot snow, and obviously soaking wet.

Imagine my surprise when I went right up to the bin, and discovered it was half empty. Which suggests to me that the bin has been emptied by the charity but the surrounding donations were not picked up.

It may well be that those exterior donations will never be recycled or reused as well-meaning donors expected. I suspect that they are bound for the trash dumpster. Maybe in May.

I looked at the spoiled donations.

Lego sets. Soccer ball. Sealed bags. A mattress. Scattered wet clothes. Designer jeans with no apparent wear.

Thinking back over the years I have dropping stuff here, do I recall sometimes approaching the bin and finding it full and leaving my own donations parked in front of it, in the naive fond hope that the truck must be on its way soon?

The whole experience leaves me with a sour, unhappy taste. What a waste of good hand-downs to others. I look in the bag I have brought. Almost new AE black jeans that I have shrunk out of. Embroidered Christmas table cloth.

Do charities plot when bins are full and schedule pickup routes accordingly, or do they just stick to a bureaucratic schedule and “shrug” dump the overs?

Can’t there be a warning sticker that says stuff left outside the bin will be trashed?

Yes, I know DC will do home pick ups. That works well when large quantities of recyclables are generated from a major house cleanup. But for those odd one bag-two bag accumulations, I want to move them out of the house ASAP so I walk them over to the bin.

Maybe I shouldn’t.

9 thoughts on “Charity Snowbank

  1. Hi Eric- Consider bringing them to The St. Vincent de Paul on Wellington St. Instead. We do and know nothing is just left lying around a donation box. This week the TV show Marketplace will examine just what happens to donated clothes that are not wanted here in Canada. The show airs on CBC Friday evenings at 8 or 8:30 pm. It should help us decide where to take unwanted used clothing.
    Responsible buying of clothes also helps keep things from being donated in the first place. Buy the best quality you can afford. The clothing lasts much longer and is cheaper in the long run because you don’t have to replace it.
    Here’s a footwear tip. Capital Shoe Repair, (right near the north-east corner of Bank and Queen Streets), has been in the same location for decades. A testament to the highly skilled, hard working owner who helps preserve Ottawa’s footwear. If he can’t fix it, no one can.
    My favourite pair of winter boots, a pair of Harley Davidson biker boots, are over thirteen years old! All because I bring them into this repair shop every Fall for any necessary small repairs and maintanance. When you buy a pair of shoes stop and think: if they wear are they worth repairing? If the answer is no, just don’t buy them. They are walking right over to the landfill.

  2. you like to keep on top of the city to make sure they operate within the law well I got a place for you to check out. my name is Marcel Courchesne I live in the mentioned building and I could give you access to the building and give you a tour of the building and most of the apartments since the tenants are pretty much powerless or do not have the time to invest to see things through but I do. i will get x-rays and the city involved also. i looks like i might have a battle on my hands once again against Ottawa Community Housing. any involvement on your part to put the problem out in public would be greatly appreciated. I am eagerly awaiting your response. Thanks a lot Marcel Courchesne, you can get a hold of me through facebook then i will send you my e-mail address for further collaboration. Have a great day.

    1. Me again the building mentioned above is 201 Friel street Ottawa, in the Lower Town area. lots of people here pay full market rent for their place and cant rely what’s so ever on the landlords or housing in charge of the up-keeping of the building and apartments.

  3. Hi Eric…I hope you’ll be able to follow up on Marcel’s comments re 201 Friel. With the current will to expand/increase housing facilities for homeless individuals, it’s crucial that the administration of these buildings be robust and certainly more effective than discussed above. Thanks for ALL your thoughts and comments.

  4. Someone can correct me if I’m wrong but from what I gather, by having friends formerly in the business, I believe there are 2 types of clothing charities. There are the ones that are legit, which do good, such as “St. Vincent de Paul” etc…. then there are the “privately” run drop boxes located across the city. From what I gather these “private” drop boxes are run by private for-profit companies which collect the donated clothing and sell it bulk to off shore distributors of some sort. These are for-profit businesses that move tonnes of clothes per year for profit. One unfortunate result of this influx of used clothing into poorer countries and their associated communities is that is can put the local clothing manufacturers (big or small) out of business as they can not compete with the lower prices of the imports. Ironically the whole system is supported by the belief over here that by donating to such boxes we are doing it for a social good when, in reality, we are just providing a company with a free commodity.

  5. For your readers, the following info provides context:
    The City’s Clothing Donation Box By-law (By-law No. 2013-98) was enacted to respond to the increasing concerns about improperly maintained clothing donation boxes that often displayed misleading signage. For information on the mandatory signage requirements for clothing donation boxes, please refer to the by-law.

    The Clothing Donation Box By-law provides that non-profit organizations and for-profit businesses can place clothing donation boxes on private property (non-residential) with the following requirements:

    Permission of the property owner.
    The donation box must be properly maintained.
    The area surrounding the donation box must be maintained in accordance with property standards and maintenance regulations.
    The boxes must display signage that clearly identifies that the operator is a charity, non-private organization or a for-profit business; and, the name and address of both the property owner and clothing box operator must also be identified.

    Under Regulations, part 3 of the By-law says:
    No operator shall fail to place the following information in a conspicuous place on the
    clothing donation box in lettering no smaller than Arial 150 font or other fonts of similar
    dimensions and in a contrasting colour:
    a) name and address of the owner;
    b) business name of the owner and operator, if applicable;
    c) type of organization if the operator not a charity;
    d) the Canada Revenue Agency registration number if the operator is a charity;
    e) the name, address and telephone number of the operator;
    f) schedule of times for pick up of donated clothing; and
    g) location of any alternative clothing donation boxes of the same operator.

    And part 10 says:
    The owner shall ensure that all areas immediately adjacent to the clothing donation box
    are maintained in accordance with the Property Standards By-law and the Property
    Maintenance By-law of the City.

    Phone 311 and report violations.

  6. Interesting that CBC Marketplace did a show yesterday on this subject. See
    From the article:
    “Kenya is one of Canada’s best customers for second-hand clothes. In 2016, Canada exported more than $160 million worth of used textiles globally, with $22 million of it going to Kenya. Much of it, however, isn’t good enough to be sold, and in many cases, ends up in the trash. … Not far from the market, there are piles and bonfires of discarded clothes made by popular brands, some with recycling initiatives.”

    It ends with this:
    If you do decide to donate, Marsales says it’s important to do your research to find the right charity. And call the charity in advance to make sure you are only donating what the group needs. But her most important advice is simply: “Don’t buy so much.”

Comments are closed.