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what keeps me back from thrift stores

We had a thread on spacefem about getting rid of old college textbooks and a few people mentioned thrift stores. I didn't like the idea because I really wanted some place that would make sure my textbooks found the best home they could find, so a more textbook-oriented company, even if it's for-profit, seemed better. Thrift stores do throw out items, recycle them, or let them set on the shelf for very long amounts of time... the goal is to do the most eco-friendly thing possible.

We should give organization more credit for being a sustainable behavior.

This even happens at the level of our own houses. I feel very bad whenever I have a nagging feeling that I own something, but can't find it, and now I need it, so I might have to buy a new one. Materialism is something I fight against all the time. I do not want to create the need for more stuff made in factories. If a can of beans gets lost it can expire before you get to eating it. If a book gets left on the basement floor it gets moldy and no one wants to read it.

Kids toys are the worst. A puzzle is fun, and cheap, but if you don't take care of it and a few pieces get lost it's now worthless and you might as well throw it away. For it to keep its value, you have to put all the pieces back in the box.

So it is with the rest of the world. If I buy a pair of womens jeans size 10 tall I don't want to have to send them to a thrift store, what are the odds they'll go to another person as tall as me? They'll be bought up my somebody, sure. Then they'll shorten them. Then the tall person a few states away has to buy a brand new pair. So I do the work of ebay or try to find some site that adds data to the junk, doesn't just throw it on a shelf.

"Donate" is too nice sounding a word for bagging up the things we don't want and sending them to a thrift store. I do it, but I don't feel good about it. There are so many of these stores and they're stuffed with the things Americans don't want. They're not all good. The Salvation Army is anti-gay There was that news two years ago about Goodwill paying its disabled workers less than minimum wage because "it's legal", when their own CEO made $750,000 a year.

I've been trying to go into the thrift stores I donate to and make sure they're trying. I favor the ones that sort the baby clothes by sizes and keep the matching shirts and pants together for kids outfits, that put a little effort, maybe charge a little more but that's okay.

Being green means finding ways to not buy stuff, and prevent everyone else from buying stuff, as much as you can.

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( 14 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 3rd, 2015 02:21 pm (UTC)
"This even happens at the level of our own houses. I feel very bad whenever I have a nagging feeling that I own something, but can't find it, and now I need it, so I might have to buy a new one."

This feeling is so bad. It practically causes me to break out in hives.
Aug. 3rd, 2015 02:23 pm (UTC)

It's really hard to have the best outcome. These are struggles I know well. There is a Freecycle group here, but the no shows were a huge turn off.

Aug. 3rd, 2015 02:47 pm (UTC)
A bunch of the local thrift stores around here were absorbed by one big Entity Corporate thrift store. It's improved the consistency of merchandise and pricing, but I have a feeling they now throw out a lot more things.

I would say that 90% of the family's clothing is thrift-store purchased, but we're also generally easy-to-find sizes.
Aug. 3rd, 2015 03:01 pm (UTC)
Find a local charity that takes these kinds of donations. They're usually more in-tune with what their communities need and can get your donations to the right people. I used to volunteer at a church "clothes closet" where you would sort through donations and organize things by men's/women's/children's clothing and then by size. I'm sure you have enough organization to do at your own house though. ;)

We reorganized our garage and found a box we haven't opened since we moved here 5 years ago. How sad is that? Felt good to get everything sorted.
Aug. 3rd, 2015 03:04 pm (UTC)
Being green means finding ways to not buy stuff, and prevent everyone else from buying stuff, as much as you can.

What are your feelings on re-fashioning for resale? Buying things at the thrifts and making them into new things for people to purchase?

Aug. 3rd, 2015 03:33 pm (UTC)
Sometimes I try to find the perfect person to donate things too-- a new grandparent who has no toys in their house, someone who just had a baby (boy/girl) and has no clothes, etc.

But other times it's like-- my house is going to become hoarder house if I don't just bring a box of stuff to Goodwill or Opportunity House STAT!

The plus side of Goodwill not matching things together is that they can then have people work for them who aren't cognitively able to match things together. But paying less than minimum wage is bullshit.
Aug. 3rd, 2015 06:06 pm (UTC)
We call our thrift store like a "lending library". As we get almost all of kid's clothes from there and they get donated back (if in good condition). Somehow I find boots my size (size 5!!!) there and not at regular stores. the store is attached to a hospital and fund goes to their clinic to help those without financial needs get medical care.

But I do find more and more to donate clothes to local church group or to friend's housecleaning service who know someonee who knows someone in need, for reasons you outline.
Aug. 3rd, 2015 09:35 pm (UTC)
There is also freecycle for specific locations..
Aug. 3rd, 2015 11:03 pm (UTC)
I won't donate to certain shops because I don't like how little of their money actually reaches the charity. However, I will buy from them because I sometimes fin good things there. Books go either to th annual book fair at my kids' old elementary school, or to the Church bazaar. The book fair often wins simply because it takes donations all year. When I'm feeling particularly organized (and my son has just done anothe clothing dump), then things go to the local homeless mission, especially when I have long pants, boots, or winter clothes to share. Mostly, though, clothing and small items go to St Vincent de Paul because they have a donation box on the way to the swimming pool. I would like to worry more about the ethics, but mostly I just want stuff out of my house: better out than in (Shrek).
Aug. 4th, 2015 10:30 am (UTC)
My location has a FB Garage Sale group where people frequently post free things and they go to local people who need/would like them. I put together a basket of excess school supplies and they went to a family with four kids all of whom were home for the summer. A person needed a dress for a fancy wedding, and several of us responded with pictures and sizes and she borrowed one.

It really has made me think differently because I used to be a bag it and give it goodwill and be sure to get a receipt damnit kind of person but i knew it wasn't the best option and since starting this I can't imagine going back to the goodwill approach.
Aug. 4th, 2015 03:59 pm (UTC)
Whereas I adore thrift-store shopping, because I'm much more likely to find a variety of clothing IN MY SIZE than I am at a department store, where everything starts about 1 size up from me.
Aug. 6th, 2015 12:22 am (UTC)

Good points.  There has to be a better, more ethical, more efficent way to handle old junk.  If anything is of value opportunists buy it and sell it on ebay, so the text books won't rot unless it's in a very poor area.

Aug. 7th, 2015 01:49 am (UTC)
I still would prefer people to donate without thinking than to just hire a skip, fill it with half rubbish and half perfectly good stuff and send it to the tip. But I guess even sorting the broken from the useable stuff is too much for some people.

I found three pieces of a building toy (like duplo but not so ubiquitious) at a thrift store recently. You can do basicly nothing with just three pieces, but my church has this toy so I bought the pieces and made them useful again by reuniting them with others of their ilk.

As far as I know the staff at thrift stores in my area aren't paid at all, they're all volunteers.

I don't imagine all that many people alter the clothes they buy at thrift stores, except for the above mentioned re-fashioners. It wouldn't be worth it to pay someone else to alter something, unles it were really special, and mose people don't sew these days. I still think it's better to sell your tall clothes where tall people can find them though because unseen and unsold clothes just become carpet underlay or somesuch.
Aug. 7th, 2015 05:05 pm (UTC)
I feel you on Goodwill...I never sent my stuffed animals there (because they have feelings, obviously, even though I'm 25) because they just sit in a bin looking forlorn.

I gave a lot of my clothes and stuffed animals to Carpenter Place in Wichita a few years ago. http://www.carpenterplace.org/ My hairdresser used their services when she was younger and go through some stuff, and recommended them.They were excited to get my clothing (because it was all very nice and in good condition) and also really excited for my stuffed animals, since again, they're all quite nice.

Another option for toys is actually the local police. They often have to take kids in from horrible situations until they can figure out where to put them. I used to loan my dad stuffed animals when he had to go on domestic relations calls so the kids would feel safer.

As far as books, when I was president of the English Club at Friends University (Sigma Tau Delta) we did book drives for low-income children, and also a book drive for soldiers (who would take anything, really, they were so bored). Prof. Vicki Ronn is the faculty adviser of the English Club last time I checked.

I also grew up in a town that was just huge on garage sales. You got stuff at garage sales, you sold your old stuff at a garage sale, so I'm an advocate of that as opposed to thrift stores.
( 14 comments — Leave a comment )

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