Thoughtless Donations

I happened upon a situation the other day that was disappointing in more ways that one. And although I am sure all my readers are more responsible than the perpetrators of this, what I consider to be a crime, I wanted to point out how wrong it is. Take a look at the photos below.

I noticed the donations piling up around these bins on my way past the area the previous night. At that stage the donations were still packed in bags and boxes. I decided I would come down and get some photos the next morning for my blog with the intension of also notifying the charity of the situation and that was when I was confronted with this mess.

This is wrong on three levels

  1. People should keep their donations at home or take them to the nearest thrift store if the bins are full. There is no need for this to happen. Someone or perhaps even a number of someones decided that they wanted to be rid of their stuff and didn’t care about the likely outcome of dumping their unwanted stuff next to full bins. Their clutter had built up over time but regardless of the fact that these donation even in bags were susceptible to weather, the owners just wanted it out of their house and ignore the likely outcome of their ignorance. Also, as clearly stated on the bins it  is against the litter laws to dump stuff beside the bins.
  2. To make matters worse some greedy person has decided that there might be something worth finding in those bags and has now ripped them apart and strewn the contents all over the place. Or perhaps worse still, this was done just for the fun of it. Leaving the items even more susceptible to the weather, soiled and quite frankly what is left has now effectively become trash that the charity will have to clean up and pay for the disposal off. We are talking charity here, in this case an organisation who provides phone counselling for emotionally vulnerable people. It costs this charity and others like it thousands of dollars a year to dispose of these kinds of thoughtless donations.
  3. This is an eyesore for the residents that live in the area which reflects on the charity in a bad way. While I was taking these photos a lady across the street called me over and asked what I was doing. So I told her I was documenting the mess and would be calling the charity and alerting them in the hope that they will come quickly to clean it up. She was most distressed and in her broken English told me that she had a beautiful apartment that is marred by this mess and wished the charity would take the bins away so this would not happen. I can only assume this isn’t the first time this has occurred. I would like to point out that this is not the fault of the charity, they are offering two services here, one, to make it easy for people to leave donations without going far out of their way and two,the important service they provide to the community with their counselling service.

The problem above was exacerbated by the fact that these donation were left here over the Christmas period while many businesses and organisations including charities have shut down or slowed their operations so their staff can take time to celebrate with family. That being said this type of dumping goes on year round, I have witnessed the fall out many times. It is simply careless and thoughtless. I have seen mattresses and sofas piled up next to these bins as well. Most charities I know of will pick up furniture that is in reasonable condition so there is no need to leave large items  near bins. As I see it people do that because they know what they have is just garbage but they don’t have a means of hauling it away or want to pay tip fees to leave it at the landfill site. Shame on them. WE even have a twice yearly council bulk waste pick-up in our area so there is absolutely no need for this.

Without trying to sound like a broken record here I would like to point out that there are many charities just like this one that provide important services to the community. Usually the section of the community that needs help the most. It takes an army of volunteers, some dedicated employees and kind donations from the public to make these services possible. Donations that are just trash or likely to become trash cost these charities a lot of money each year to dispose off. I am sure some people don’t realise that what they give may not be in good enough condition to sell but there are also others who are just using these charities as their dumping ground.

So please only donate clean usable items in reasonable condition and never leave your donations where they are susceptible to the weather or this kind of vandalism.

I am happy to say that the charity that owned the above bins were already on their way to clean up the mess before I even made my phone call.

Today’s Declutter Item

I am not sure why we ever needed an extension cord this long but I know one thing for sure, we don’t need it now so off to the thrfit with you.

Extension Cord

“In daily life we must see that it is not happiness that makes us grateful, but gratefulness that makes us happy.” Brother David Steindl-Rast

It matters not how fast I go, I hurry faster when I’m slow

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About Colleen Madsen

Colleen is the founder of 365 Less Things and lives in Newcastle, Australia.


  1. Thank you for sharing this. I work for a charity and everyday we receive inconsiderate ‘donations.’ Things that are broken, out of date, or inappropriate for our organization. We are so grateful for the support of the public, but donations that don’t help do hinder the work of charities. We must pay for disposal, staff time, and storage of these items.

    It is really important when you are donating something to make sure that it will be of use to an organization. We don’t distribute books, but another org. might, for example. You want the organization you are supporting to be as organized and as decluttered as you are – this will make them more effective!

    • Hi Suzie,
      thank you for weighing in on this subject as it is dear to my heart. I read an article about it two years ago before I started volunteering at the charity I work at. I was already aware at that stage about the problem with bins but now I see the entire scope of the problem. I am sure some people don’t realise that the things they are donating are useless and the way they go about is counterproductive but what happened to common sense along the way. I think also that some people think the product in the store only gets bought by people so unfortunate that they can’t afford to be fussy. As you know this is not the case, yes we have customers who can’t afford to shop anywhere else but it is the money made by the sales that mostly benefit those less fortunate. It is a shame to then waste that money having to dispose of the garbage that people send in.

      And may I say thank you for doing what you do to help the charity that you work for.

  2. I went to drop off some donations, and the bins were a little bit less like your photos. I took everything home again. Was not prepared to leave my donations outside the bins.

  3. It’s things like what you have pictured here that made every donation box in my city be pulled. Now you have no choice but to take it to the charity or wait for a Pick-up Drive. People kept vandalizing or piling things up…. basically abusing the charity!

    I have to admit, I prefer to see the charity face to face and hear the “thank you” when I’m releasing things… it helps me be more generous (and soothe my wounded pack-rat tendencies).

  4. Colleen, this is one of the things that really bugs me about the way so many people treat charities and those they help. This type thing says to me that people who do things like this care more about their own convenience than they do the people who benefit from the stuff they drop off. I am amazed at what people will “donate” to charity. Just before Christmas we went house hunting with the thought we were going to have to move. The places we saw and what had been done to them is another example of the selfishness of others. I was sickened by the damage people had done to houses before moving out of them and the things they left in them. Not only would I not buy one of those houses but by their vandalism the buyer would be left with repair bills on top of buying the home. In both cases we are seeing the downturn of society in some ways.

    • Hi Deb J, I know exactly what you are saying here. Funny you should marry up these to circumstances because one of the ladies I work with at the thrift shop went to inspect out house with the intent to buy last week and found just that. She said it could have been a beautiful home but the five young men renting it had ruined the place. Broken windows, soiled carpets, damaged walls and mess everywhere. And it isn’t just young people who do this. No matter how little you have it doesn’t cost much to take care of your surroundings. Even if you have to work long hours to make ends meet that just means you are in your home less to mess it up so that would make it easier to keep clean and tidy. I suppose thought that when you get to feeling like life is too hard you just give up trying an that is sad.

  5. The two charities in our town that accept donations also limit to personal drop offs and one has a camera to document unauthorized dumping. For long periods of time they will not accept items at all if they are overstocked. We are surrounded by water and excess has to be barged out so even though charities get a break they cannot afford to have unlimited stuff piling up.
    The most sobering thing for me is to look at the sheer quantity of stuff that people have accumulated beyond their needs. Especially when I look at clothing I wonder how we got so much in the first place.
    Must add – last week my neighbor told me she had finally sorted through her closet and sent 75 dresses to the thrift shop. I don’t think I’ve owned 75 dresses in my life, even counting skirts! Yes, I wear them but wow! that’s a lot of dresses.

    • You make a very good point here Delores. Donating to charity in a place where you are somewhat isolated could make if difficult for the charity to move the product. People in a community like that have even more reason to be more consumer conscious.

      I am with you 75 dresses is more than one needs in a lifetime. If they are good enough to be sent to the thrift store then they weren’t worn enough in the first place. Society will know when they finally have it right when there is not enough good secondhand stuff to make thrift stores viable.

  6. We don’t have any donation bins like that where we live. We have to take it to the Salvation Army and take it in. It is a bit of an inconvenience, but it is a way to be a responsible citizen instead of throwing everything away. It is good to circulate our usable items that are in good condition to others who can use them. But, we shouldn’t give something to them that we wouldn’t want to use ourselves. If things are stained or ripped or broken, we shouldn’t just dump them so we can be rid of them. People have churned through material things so rapidly in the past years, that we don’t even value the time and effort it took to buy some of the things we have. It seems like a lot of people are jumping off the materialism treadmill and buying less and taking better care of what they have and thinking before they purchase items. This isn’t just to save money, but to take responsibility for what we have and do. many people do the same with food waste, where they buy more than they need and can use and so they just throw it away. This clip was a real eye opener for me. ( I couldn’t believe that people could really waste that much food.

    • Well said Spendwisemom, you have hit the nail square on the head with this comment.It is much the same response I just wrote to Delores. I have added the link you included to this week’s Friday Favourites. The woman in the interview was right it is shameful.

    • Half a grass fed cow?! That could be called aspiration food clutter. I still don’t get it, they bought it, stored it in their freezer, and have no intention to cook it? It is more than waste, it is irresponsible.

      • Thanks for the link. I’m glad I don’t waste food like that but I did get some great tips on storing veges and fruit (I must admit we do seem to waste more fruit and veges that we should). Thanks again.

    • “But, we shouldn’t give something to them that we wouldn’t want to use ourselves.” Colleen wouldn’t have had to write her post if most people thought this way. At our church, which is located on the main street of our small town, we take donations of clothing, appliances, and furniture to GIVE AWAY to people in need. Our maxim is: “Would you give this to Jesus?”. We have had the same problem as what has been repeated in this post and comments. One Sunday we arrived for the service to discover a couch that should have been dumped sitting on the sidewalk by the church! It was embarrassing and disappointing to see what someone thought of our ministry to the needy. We don’t charge for the items, yet every year we pay hundreds of dollars to take the dropped off junk to the trash.

      • It is a shame that this continues to happen Di. Do you think these people think that someone would actually appreciate their junk or do you think they are all just illegal dumping?

  7. Here in England our house is on a back street of our little town’s high street (main road) and there is two different charity shops on that row. This is a daily problem for the shops. People turn up with their “donations” and find the shop shut so instead of finding out the opening times and returning another time with the goods they just dump them on the doorstep.

    This is stealing from the charity concerned.

    They have to pay to remove everything into the waste, because, let’s face it, who wants to buy something that has been sat out on the High street over night. The charity looses out twice. They pay for the removal and they loose the chance to sell the goods. People who do this should be ashamed.

    Another thing I witness a lot is bargaining with the staff. If the item is marked at a pound the customer will offer 50p or claim that’s all they have with them. I shop in the charity shops all the time and witness this two or three times a week. For goodness sake, it’s a charity shop, trying really hard to raise money to help people in need. Don’t be so greedy.

    Greed is the modern curse.

    Oops, you found one of my “buttons”, I will get off my soap box. 🙂

    • You did a fine job on your soap box Andrea, on every point. And you are so right about people bargaining with the staff this happens at my thrift shop all of the time. Sometimes we comply with their wishes other times not. Sometimes it is best to let the stuff go cheap than to have more stuff end up in landfill because we couldn’t shift it.

  8. The same thing happens where I live. 🙁

  9. Hi Colleen,
    It’s good to raise awareness for not giving things to charity shops that they don’t need (and of course not just drop stuff somewhere “nearby” but that really should be common sense!). Now if only all the charity shops would be clear about what they don’t want/need and about their opening times … Unfortunately more than once I found the information on homepages or via phone not to be clear, correct or up to date. If I do the research of going to their website or calling in advance just to be sent home again with the stuff I just lugged there or find the doors closed … (insert some unfriendly thoughts here …).
    Now probably I was just unlucky but I wished the charitys would take a bit more responsibility about the clearness and correctness of their information because I don’t (want to) think it is MOST people who don’t care whether their stuff is helpful or a burden. Although I have to admit that your picture looks as if a whole heard of black sheeps has stampeded through …

    • I understand your frustration Ideealistin, this can be very annoying. We accept most things at our thrift store but there are some things we can’t due to health and safety issues. Sometimes I think there are too many government restrictions imposed simply due to people’s stupidity, but that is whole other subject. If people phone ahead and ask I would hope our staff give the right advice. Some people do turn up on the door step without calling ahead so we usually just say then that we can’t take whatever it is. We do not rifle through the bags and boxes they leave though, that would just be rude. As for web sites not being up to date that seems to be an epidemic.

      I will share a funny story with you about a lady who phoned the thrift store where I work to find out if we would pick up a cot she wanted to donate. Due to safety requirements we are not allowed to take cots, prams, wheelchairs and some other times. I told the lady that because of this we could not accept her cot. Her reply was, and I quote ~ “Well what the F@#K am I supposed to do with it then!” Luckily I was in a good mood and just advised her to try some other charities or advertise it on Freecycle which I explained to her. After a bit more ranting and raving from her I finally was able to hang up the phone. She didn’t have a desire to donate she just wanted someone to take something away that she no longer wanted. I can only imagine what sort of condition it was in judging by her ferrel behaviour.

    • I don’t know about in other countries but here in England the majority of charity shop staff are volunteers, and mostly retired people wanting to do some good with their spare time. That means that they might not be acquainted with websites etc. Usually they are just doing the best they can. I know some of the ladies in our local shops (one for the local hospice and one for a national elderly people charity) struggle with working the till weeks after they start there.

      • Hi Andrea,
        it is much the same in Australia but there is also staff behind the volunteers and some high paid staff running the organisation. I imagine they also pay someone to maintain their website. I always assume websites aren’t always completely up to date so I don’t rely too heavily on what I read there. If I want accurate detail I will phone the store.

  10. Just Monday I saw this, although all year I drive past this bin (in the council pool carpark) and this is the first time I’ve seen excess. I did feel sorry and sad that it was like that. I also see it a bit outside the charity street on the ‘high’ street I drive past for work – I always hope that it’s only been there a short time, and will soon be rescued at opening time..

    I’ve been freecycling more, I feel it’s more ‘responsible’ as you can tell people the condition of what they are getting ‘it doesn’t work as is, but you can do this to it, and it will’. So far so good.

    • Hi Snosie,
      this has been my first experience of the amount of stuff that is donated at Christmas time and it is astounding. That is why these bins get in such a state at this time of year particularly. That and the sheer ignorance of people.

  11. I’d like to add–please don’t do this to a church that’s holding some type of fundraising tag/rummage sale either.

    I’d be EMBARRASSED to donate items in the condition that I’ve seen/heard about.

    It’s the same thing as with charity shops–churches don’t have money or staff to clean up and discard of items that inconsiderate people drop off.

    • That is true Becky and I am sure it happens far too often at church rummage sales as well. I helped a couple drop off some stuff at out thrift store yesterday. They were perfectly good items but needed a good wipe over. The lady even said to me pretty much those exact words. She also said we tried to sell them on ebay but no one was interested. Perhaps if they cleaned them up first so they looked more appealing they may have had better success. With only a kitchen sink at the thrift store we don’t have much facility for cleaning outdoor play equipment. So people just have to then look past the dirt if they are interested in buying them as well.

  12. Our local paper ran a story about this topic this week so your message is very timely.
    I must admit that after clearing out things from the house, I like them gone as soon as possible but I would NEVER do that – I would prefer that it stayed in the boot of the car a little long then create an eyesore for others.
    One thing I’ve also noticed, some of the collection bins only ask for clothing (including shoes) to be placed in the bins and household goods to be dropped off in store (during opening hours). I don’t have a problem with finding a store to take my goods.
    Thanks to you, I’m now more careful with what I donate as well – at the moment I’m going through my children’s toys and will only be donate things that are undamaged, are in working order and are complete sets.

  13. I’ve noticed that in LA and other major cities in Southern California, there are half as many such donation bins as there used to be, for this reason. The problem was with the homeless people tearing into the bags left outside the bins, and even breaking into the bins themselves and making a home in there and/or stealing anything that could be sold. Sad.

    • You are so right Faith. But at least you can forgive the homeless for trying to find something they need. It is the lazy ones who can afford to donate that leave thing in careless places instead of making the extra effort of delivering it to the stores. Countless hours are spent browsing stores to buy this stuff and then when they are over it people can’t make a little effort to dispose of it responsibly. Shame on them!

  14. We have a charity clothing bin a block away from where we live. It is many years since I have used it BECAUSE it seems to be a target for arsonists! Not often, but every few years, the contents have gone up in smoke, because some idiot has (presumably) dropped a match or cigarette inside. Don’t get me started on the mind of the person doing it, but it just seems such a waste, so I cart my stuff all the way into town. If I’m going to donate it, I want them to get it!

  15. Absolutely disgusting! I recall this happening at one of our local shopping centres and they ended up taking the bins away as it was such a problem. I really can’t believe that people can do this! But obviously they can. And do.

  16. Hi Colleen
    A very timely post as people seem to be using their holiday time to clear out clutter.
    I thought you might be interested to read of one person’s experience of charity bins in Canberra at

    • You tricked me there for a minute Colleen I thought you were new but you just dropped the P. Keep using the P if you would be so kind then I will be able to know which Colleen you are. Thank you for that link I took a look and had a good read. There were some good links in it too. I also sent the author of the blog an email.

      • love to have someone do this Australia wide – it may make others realise how irresponsible they are being.

        • Someone in Canberra did. See Colleen’s comment. I have seen stories about this in newspapers at different times but most of the people who do this sort of stuff just don’t care. Hopefully though some who just didn’t consider the outcome of their ignorance will read such stories and change their ways. Some people are innocent enough they just don’t think.

      • Apologies, Colleen. I couldn’t remember how I signed last time 😉

        • No need to apologise but thanks for reinstating the P for me. I take it you live in Canberra.

          • Yes, born and bred 😉

            • I feel I have actually lived in Canberra but I really haven’t. I have just been there so many times that I kind of feel like part of the scene. My brother lives there and has done so off and on since his early twenties and I have visited him many times. My husband worked there for 11 months while we stayed in our current location in 2008 and we visited him a few time. I also have many past acquaintances living there and also one of my husbands brothers and his family. And I have certainly been to the galleries and museums many times. One day perhaps I will actually live there and i wouldn’t mind that at all.

  17. The only donation bins I have seen in my area are in the parking lot of my kids’ elementary school. They only accept kids’ clothes and they are always well maintained. That would be awful to see something similar to your pictures. When it is responsibly used, it is so useful. Parents can just drop off their kids as well as their outgrown clothes in one stop, and the school also empties the overflowing lost and found unclaimed items.

    • Maybe all charity bins should be kept inside school grounds. That would work well in Australia because now all schools have 6 foot fences with spiked tops, that ought to keep the riffraff out.

      • Those fences (mainly high schools) drive me nuts, often our assets are locked inside, but no one’s thought to give us a key to access them :s

  18. Hi Ladies,

    OMG it is so sad to see those photos. Where I live we have four bins outside the Shopping Centre carpark that would regularly end up looking like these photos posted. One morning I was so incensed by the vandalism I picked it all up and put it in my boot (I was going to take it across the road to the shop and help sort it if need be) Low and behold I had a woman come screaming across the carpark yelling at me that I was a ‘THIEF’ and I should be ashamed of myself!!! She called the Police and would not listen that I was doing a favour to the shop/charity. I laugh about it now but believe me it was a little daunting at the time.

    The Police arrived (very short trip for them) they practically look at the bins from their office! I was mortified but stood my ground with this foul mouthed woman running feral and screaming obscenities at me for thieving from a charity. We had a lot of people standing around by this time and the poor policeman was trying to perform crowd control. After the situation calmed down and a lady appeared from the Charity Shop, all was sorted out with a lot of people helping to move the gear to the shop! OMG what a morning, turns out, sadly, that the shop ends up paying money out to dump stuff after it has been trashed and a lot of people had their eyes opened to the dilemma faced by charities when people dump gear and then it is vandalised. One good thing came out of it though, as I am a cheeky sod at times, I asked everyone to pay for the morning show and make a donation to the store. All of them opened their purses, two ladies there said they would help sort the gear and if it is good they offered to take it home and wash it and return it to the store! How wonderful for the store. I suffered no damage from the experience but my heart went out to the poor Policeman having to deal with the “loud mouthed woman”, in hindsight I can understand the womans’ reactions to what she was witnessing but what a ‘charming way to go about your civic duty’ NOT!!!! Needless to say we all had a good laugh in the end but I have never attempted to salvage donation wreckage again hahaha. I do however ring the Charity and let them know. Sometimes I wish I wasn’t so thoughtful and mindful of others but then imagine how boring my life would be.:) 🙂 🙂

    Please don’t dump your gear around a bin, take the time to find out how you can dispose of your goods. Get to know the ladies and gentlemen that run your local Charity Shops and take the time to find out what they need or want. It’s really not hard and after a few phone calls you will find a Charity that is willing to help you help them! For a real eyeopener volunteer some time to find out how the Charity is run and help out a little when you can, it’s good for the heart and soul and a huge help to the shop!

    Have a beautiful clutter-free day 🙂 🙂

    • Ah Dizzy you crazy lady, you are lucky you didn’t get yourself arrested. Although I must admit I was also tempted to pick the stuff up and take it to the thrift store meself. The old battle axe who confronted you was probably one of the ones who dumped the stuff there in the first place. 😆
      Ah well, all worked out in the end, so good for you.

  19. Sabine from Germany

    I volunteer at our church library and have to deal with thoughtless donations as well. We offer a used book store and people are glad to know about a place where their books will serve a good cause and are cherished.
    But once in a while I ask myself why someone doesn’t throw them away on his own. Sometimes the books are just trash and iky. I had to deal with mold more than once. It is disgusting. What are they thinking? That someone might want to buy such a book?
    I have to drive them to the landfill, therefore have to deal with them 3 times. First to sort through, second to pack them in my trunk and third out again.

    • This sort of carelessness affects all sorts of charities. I imagine in some cases people have a hard time parting with things and feel better about it if they pass stuff on rather than through it out. The condition is irrelevant to them because they still see value in the stuff.

      • Sabine from Germany

        yes, but in the case of books it’s not only because people still see value. Let’s not forget that the Germans have to live with the stigma of once having burnt books to ashes. So the mere thought of throwing a book away is daunting if not impossible.
        I get replies like this ever so often.

        • That just confirms what I was thinking. They can’t bring themselves to throw them away. No matter what the reason it is the same result. Well consider it your favour to these people by doing their declutter for them. Graciously dispose of the books that are past being useful and think of it as going above and beyond the call of duty.

        • maybe thats why I cant part with books… You see pictures of those pogroms and burning books every so often and it will alawys give me shivers… It certainly makes you think twice before you trash a book.

          • I think there is a enormous gap between forced book burning and throwing an old book that has had its day into the recycling bin. I think in your case you probably have a love affair with the written words and transfer that love to the physical object. It is just another form of “I might need it some day” except it is “I might reread it some day.”

          • hehe, obviously its not just pogroms. but its also not just the aspriational clutter. its not just that. Its the permanence of books that makes me admire them. There are books in this world that are old and carry a long story, that have seen a lot and caused much more. Books that contain stories that are timeless and books that contain secrets in whatever meaning. Books require you to read only. You dont need electricity, you dont need software, you can just open it and go. Its permanence and simplicity. Books and houses (architecture) are the only cultural objects I respect and admire…

            mind you, six months ago, I would have never been able to understand my relationship with books. Following 365lessthings made me reflect on it so much, change my attitude (to a certain extent) and made me articulate my love for books. sweet.

            • Although I am not a avid book lover and can appreciate everything you say here. When man first learned to communicate via the written word and especially when the printing press was invented the world became a very different place indeed. And to think there still exist in the world some of those earliest scrolls and books. And I am with you I admire architecture too. I am not sure when that started or why but one of the things I love about travelling the world is the different architecture. I never tire of it. It is also one of the reasons I like to walk in my own city because the variety of architecture is a fascination to me.

              I am glad that 365 Less Things has got you thinking about what and why things are important to you. The useful flip side to that is that it helps you also realise was isn’t. And what isn’t is clutter and it can go.

  20. My mum volunteers at her local op shop, and recently l gave her a bag of clothes to take there.

    She commented on how nice and clean everything was, compared to some of the stuff that is donated.

    Plus she also kept two items for herself………she liked them that much………..cheeky lady! 🙂

  21. Someone wrote in the comments a statement which nails it: we wouldn’t have this problem if we didn’t buy so much stuff, have so much stuff and then feel that we can get rid of it and then buy more! I’m not perfect, certainly, but the more I look around at the messes in people’s homes, in trash bins, in garbage dumps (we used to live a few blocks from the dump on the edge of town), the LESS I want to purchase and add to the horribleness of the waste.

  22. I like your site! The comments raise a question that I’ve had often: just how good a condition must something to be in to be donated? I wouldn’t donate an appliance that doesn’t work, but I do give away a lot of things that are too grungy for me, and I always wonder whether they are also too grungy for the charity shop. Is it okay to donate stained clothing, for example? Toys with missing pieces? I don’t want to burden the shop nor throw away something that someone would want.

    • This is a good question because the answer is somewhat open ended. Grungy to one person might be totally acceptable to others so you need to take your level of what grungy is into account. If in doubt consult a friend. In the case of stained clothes, I would not send in old well worn clothes with stains that haven’t come out in the wash. I would however consider sending in good quality high end clothing that has a stain that I was not prepared to send to the dry-cleaners prior to donating. For example, I sent an old ball gown to the thrift store last week. It had a stain on the front which I am sure would come out in the wash but the dress really shouldn’t go in the home washing machine. But if I was a thrift store customer considering that dress at $4 I would take my chances on the stain coming out. If clothes are faded, out of shape and threadbare I wouldn’t send them to the thrift store.

      In the case of electronic items. Don’t give up on finding a home for them if they aren’t working. No they can’t go to the thrift store but yes someone on Freecycle may like to tinker with that sort of stuff. So put it on Freecycle, making it clear that it is not functioning, and see what happens before writing it of as rubbish.

      Kids toys don’t necessarily have to be all there to be useful to someone. A lego toy for instance is still good for its parts even if it can’t be constructed as intended. Just mark the item as Parts Only. Some games are also OK with bits missing. Just mark on the outside of the container what is missing. The thrift store will price accordingly. That being said, we recently received several games at the thrift store that has so many pieces missing that they just weren’t functional. These really belonged in the trash.

      All other household stuff should be clean before sending to the thrift store. It really doesn’t take that much effort to make sure things are clean and if it does the owner really needs to consider how well they look after their stuff.

      Oh and Amy I almost forget to say welcome to 365 Less Things. I see this is your first comment/question and it really was a good one. Even though this may seem like common sense to some people the answer really isn’t as simple as it might appear.

      • Hi Colleen, I’m a newbie to your site and am getting on board with you to toss at least 365 things out this year. Woo hoo…I am very excited about this.

        On sending dirty clothing to the thrift store, I part company with you here. Even though I am making a donation, I think the garments should be laundered and where possible stain free. I realize that a person paying a few dollars for attire may be willing to purchase and make an attempt at removing the spot but there’s something in me that can’t donate items that need to be repaired or cleaned. Just because I’m donating to a thrift store, doesn’t mean I shouldn’t provide clean and unstained items.

        Also, I’ve read that thrift stores get so many items that are not usable that the thrift store has to pay to have those items carted to the landfill.

        • Hi Monique,
          and may I extend to you a very warm welcome to 365 Less Things. I am always happy to hear that someone is excited about the prospect of decluttering. I think you will find the 365 things at 1 thing a day is a pretty easy challenge.

          Donating dirty stuff to the thrift store in general is something I would not normally agree with either. The case I mentioned was my one and only exception to the rule. Even stuff donated as rags ought to be clean.