Items placed in clothing donation bins may not always be going where you think

During weather like this, you might be thinking about donating some of your old clothes to help keep the less fortunate warm. Maybe there’s a donation bin where you shop that keeps reminding you.

But there’s something you should know about some of those bins. It turns out that clothing donation is a multi-million dollar business, and your donation may not always go where you think.

There is now a whole variety of clothing bins popping up all over the Lower Mainland, and with good reason.

Some of the bins are to help the genuine needy during this cold snap and some of them are to line the pockets of profiteers.

Unfortunately, most of the time you don’t really know where your donations are going.

If a disclosure is required, it would be set by a municipality though bylaws. To date, there’s nothing in B.C. that speaks to putting more info on these bins,” says Mark Fernandes of the Better Business Bureau of the Lower Mainland.

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One Surrey company, Trans Continental Textile Recycling Limited has been in business for twenty years.

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The charities that have signed up with it are only too happy to have a cheque sent to them every month.

All they have to do is lend their name to the donation bin.

The company collects tons of clothing and sorts it in their warehouse, before sending most of it overseas to be re-sold or re-manufactured.

We asked but the company would not disclose what percentage of its revenue goes back to the charities.

This is very different from other charities like the Salvation Army where it runs its own program.

“It’s 100 per cent going to Salvation Army, and the community in need,” says Lauren Chan of the Salvation Army of B.C.

Just a couple of months ago, a new player entered the market called Green Inspirations, based in Burnaby.

Though their big green bins don’t say it yet, they’ve partnered with the Children’s Foundation and the Boys and Girls Clubs of B.C.

A small mountain of donations collected recently is heading to Bulgaria.

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“The warmer clothes that are suitable for Eastern Europe, they stay there,” says Ivan Filipov, Project Manager at Green Inspiration BC. “The rest of the stuff goes to India, Asia, Africa, and whatever is not suitable for wearing or using, is recycled.”

All of these for-profit clothing banks argue that if they didn’t offer their services, most of these clothes would end up in our landfills.

It’s true these companies make a profit, but it’s a win-win situation says Green Inspirations who say they want to see the business better regulated.

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