When it comes to our outfits, we’ve all had our respective breaking points. You take one look at the variegated clothing selection in your closet and immediately want to throw everything you own in the trash. Hopefully, you do the responsible thing and collect your threads in a large plastic bag and take it to the nearest donation bin.
But if a new piece of legislation passes in New Jersey, you might not be able to do that any longer.
According to reports from earlier this month, the Medford Township, located just 20 miles east of Philadelphia, is seriously considering enacting a ban that would effectively lift all clothing donation bins located on public property and even some on private property as well. The reason? The bins are “unsightly,” at least in the opinion of some local leaders, South Jersey’s Central Record reports.
You might think that this action would negatively affect some local charity organizations like the Goodwill, and you might be right. But studies show that not all the bins are even owned by charities. Some are, in fact, owned by for-profit companies. That’s what’s helping influence the decision on a similar vote in South Bend, Indiana.
As the city’s WSBT reports, some of the companies aren’t even located in the region, meaning their drop sites often creep into disrepair. “Unsightly” might be right after all. On top of that, they can be safety hazards for small children who view them as playground objects. And as Medford’s Mayor Christopher Buoni points out, a lack of clear ownership of the bins could mean citizens are erroneously donating clothes under the pretense of charity work.
That’s why South Bend is proposing new regulations that would require the keepers of the donation bins to clearly display their names across the outside of them. Additionally, the operators would have to pay a fee of $25 per license of each bin and give the city a specific set of contact information if the bins aren’t emptied out at least once per week.
On a global level, there’s also the implication that our donated goods are actually being sold on secondhand markets in places like Sub-Saharan Africa. This influx of Western culture, it has been argued, may even be preventing these nations themselves from reaching their full economic potential through their own bustling textile market.
As of right now, no clothing donation bin decree is final. But if the stories from Medford and South Bend are any indication, the issue of donated clothing is one that won’t likely disappear anytime soon — no matter which part of the country you live in.