Tuesday, November 20, 2007

What is charity?

I am pondering this one at the moment. I have a selection of things that we no longer have use for - some old curtains, a scanner that only works with Windows 98 or earlier, some old style printer cables, an old modem and a metal framed rucksack that may have seen service on the ark. I had a look round on ebay to see what they were worth, this being my favourite way to dispose of unwanted goods and make a few bob at the same time. However, none of these items seem to have any value on ebay at all. So, I decided to have a go at freecycling them. Freecycle is a fantastic way to get rid of unwanted things that probably won't make any money but might be of use to someone.

Anyway, to cut a long story short, no-one on freecycle wanted these things, so desirable are they. So, I decided in one final last ditch attempt to be rid of them that I would advertise them as free for collection on my work bulletin board. I made the quip that unless anyone wanted them, they would be heading to landfill (actually they would probably mostly be burned at SELCHP wouldn't they but this is mere detail). To my surprise I received an email from a colleague based at one of our offices outside London suggesting that I was being somewhat reckless in sending these goods to landfill and what I should really do with them is give them to charity.

Now, is that actually the case? I replied that I thought charity shops probably only wanted items that they could sell rather than tat that clearly no one wants even if it's free. Imagine my shock to receive another response from said colleague suggesting that I should just put the stuff in a black bag, dump it outside the nearest charity shop and they could decide what to do with it.

I'm really not sure that's the best thing to do with this stuff. Surely a charity shop would have to pay to dispose of my unwanted junk if they decided it was unsaleable (which it surely is, as the above sequence of events shows), whereas I can either stick it in the wheely bin or take it down to SELCHP myself and dispose of it for nowt. What good am I doing to the charity therefore by passing on this stuff?

I have deleted my colleague's email and am pondering my next course of action, but I think it will be to reuse the curtains as weed control fabric in our garden and bin the rest. Anyone got any better ideas? Am I being daft and charity shops would be crying out to receive this rubbish?


Andy said...

Take it too the dump let them decide what to do with it.

Andrew Brown said...

I have a feeling that charities get enough tat left outside their front doors. But what you might do is give you favourite (or closest) one a call and find out...

Anonymous said...

I've tried to give used computers etc to organisations that spruce them for use in places such as Africa.

None were interested, which made me wonder what do that do they except.