Utah (ABC4) – Clothes, shoes, accessories, books, video games. Donating these gently-used items to thrift stores after Spring cleaning is a good way to keep them from piling up in a landfill.
But while thrift stores will take a lot, they won’t take everything. And knowing what they do and don’t take is important to saving organizations time and money.
“We try to really focus on keeping items out of the landfill, but all of that has a cost if we do need to dispose of it, so we really try to focus on those usable, gently used, donated items,” says Shanna Endow, Retail Systems Development Manager at Easter Seals Goodwill.
Endow says Goodwill stores accept items like new or gently used clothing, shoes, accessories, household decor, knick knacks, utensils, plates, small appliances, toys, furniture, and bed frames. They also take DVDs, video games, books, and even cars.
“We work through a vendor that helps us with the title and logistics of car donations, so they could just reach out to their local Goodwill and we could provide the phone number and help them take care of that,” she explains.
As long as that list seems, the list of items that Goodwill stores won’t take is just as long.
“We know it’s sometimes hard to say no thank you to donations, but there are a few things that we, unfortunately, can’t take, and that would be mattresses. We can’t take hazardous waste materials. We don’t take cribs or car seats due to safety,” Endow states.
In addition, the organization can’t accept tires, older TVs or large appliances like refrigerators, washers, dryers, or hot water heaters “just because we can’t guarantee those are safe and in useable condition for resale,” Endow explains.
“If something is broken, we don’t have the staff to fix items, so we unfortunately we can’t accept broken items or heavily damaged or dirty items,” she adds.
But what happens to these items when they are donated anyway?
“Those are some of the items that we would, unfortunately, have to dispose of if we couldn’t recycle,” Endow says.
She says that the items the organization receives as donations, they would like to first and foremost be able to sell in Goodwill stores in order to fund the programs the organization runs.
If an item doesn’t sell in stores, it will get a second chance to be sold in one of the company’s Goodwill outlet stores, like one located in Salt Lake City.
“If they are broken or damaged when we receive them, we do recycle as an organization over 8 million pounds a year,” Endow states. However, disposing of items that cannot be recycled costs Goodwill money for garbage collection costs.
That’s why it’s important to be aware of what a particular thrift store does and doesn’t accept. There are some items that most thrift stores generally don’t accept. For example, Goodwill, Deseret Industries, and Savers will not accept large appliances and used mattresses, food, or flammable or hazardous materials like cleaning products and pesticides. Many thrift stores will also not take infant products for safety reasons.
Endow urges people to contact their local Goodwill store with any questions about donatable items.
“… we can either give you some guidance on that or potentially provide contact information for places that you can dispose of that, but I think sometimes it just helps to know what we do and don’t accept,” she states.