How Often Do We Donate Our Garbage to God

Trash Dumpster Full of Garbage

This may sound like another semi-negative blog post on my part, but it is something that my wife and I deal with quite a bit and has really struck a nerve, so stay with me if you can.

When we look at what we have and what we decide to give up for various things, it is truly fascinating to see what it is we find worth to give to God. Scripture says we are to give God the first fruits, right? We are not supposed to give him what is left over, but the good stuff. Well, when we started getting involved with thrift stores about a year and a half ago, we found something we really weren’t expecting. A lot of real garbage.

If It is Garbage, Throw it Away

Do we stop and notice what we are donating. Do we think about it before hand. I am donating this so someone else less fortunate than me can have it at a good price. We take up collections of items to ship overseas once in a while for a good mission trip, are these materials you would want to send to them?

This sort of leads me off topic a bit for this conversation to a familiar site among churches, the church garage sale (or bizarre, or flea market). This is where we bring all our junk and try to sell it off to raise money for the church in some manner. I have never cared for the notion of bringing up our items that have no value or meaning to us to sell, but that is all for another article (there are good “church sales” too).

The point here is, when we give, and we know it is supposed to be for a mission, the church, or to further the kingdom in some manner, do we reflect on what it is we give? Does what we give reflect on what perception we give others about the church?

Goodwill, Salvation Army, Mission Thrift Type Stores

Some of you may know that my wife and I volunteer in a mission type thrift store each week. We have done this now for more than a year, going on 18 months, so we have had the privilege of seeing what all we bring into these store to donate, and we are amazed, daily. A huge amount of our time (and everyone else who works there) is spent on sorting through what is actual donated materials that can be cleaned up and sold, and pure garbage. I am not talking about something old that I personally wouldn’t buy, or a color I don’t like, I am talking about trash. The stuff the WM (Waste Management) picks up at your house once a week.

You know, stuff that is of absolutely NO value what-so-ever. Old prescription bottles, coloring books with all the pages already colored, Bible studies that are completely written in or half the pages torn out, old food, broken items of all kinds (as in smashed with no repair possible), and so on. These are things that no one would ever want to give to someone, let alone sell.

Throwing Away Garbage Costs Tons of Money

This is a serious matter for these stores. Just this year, one of the local Goodwill Store in Opelika closed their doors for good. They had been opened at that location for 22 years. They were receiving items they couldn’t sell (stated lack of donations) among other reasons, but their costs to stay opened were just too high.

What is amazing about the whole process is the thrift store is left with taking out the trash. This has become more and more expensive over time but has now reached critical proportions. My wife and I work with one single section of materials, and we personally throw away about 2,000 pounds of materials each week that are not able to be sold in any shape or form. A recent conversation with one of the employees about the cost of trash pickup was amazing. He explained that last year, the thrift store we work with was paying about $300 a month for the dumpster pickup in total. Dumpsters were picked up a few times a month. We are not talking about the small dumpster either, this is the full size 18-wheeler trailer size.

But, prices had been steadily rising. Now, as of this post, the thrift store is paying $450 PER PICK UP, which happens a few times A WEEK, and the cost seems to have no ceiling. Over the past year from what I can tell, the cost for trash pickup at this store has gone from $300 a month to more than $2000 a month.

What is amazing is that the amount of trash that is required to be thrown away keeps increasing as more people donate their pure garbage instead of salable items the store desperately needs. What is truly amazing about this is that people are donating things to these stores, and are COSTING the store money instead of increasing their revenue. This is taking away from their effectiveness as a mission or all the other great things that they can do with donated material revenue.

Please Continue to Donate to Thrift Stores

Please don’t get the wrong idea here. If people did not donate to the local thrift stores none of these missions would be able to continue. Goodwill and the Salvation Army do many things other than sales at their stores. Disaster relief, aid for the hungry, and a whole host of other things, so please continue to donate, but when you are filling that trash bag, think about whether the trash bag should go to the dump, or to the thrift store.

If you dispose of something that is actual garbage, you will be saving the store money. If you are one of those pack rats that just can’t stand to throw something away, no matter what it is, just think about the cost incurred by the thrift stores to dispose of your trash.

What are your thoughts? Do you donate to the local thrift stores? Just leave a comment below, I always enjoy hearing what the readers have to say.

8 thoughts

  1. I was involved w/ my church doing a clothing drive. People donated so much CRAP. I was sifting through the stuff and seperating the junk. Another woman said, “just take that to Goodwill and donate it.” I refused…they got mad. I had EXPLAIN why we shouldn’t donate it. It’s not fair to have someon else pay to dispose of our garbage. They seriously had a hard time understanding that concept….NOT donating stuff (junk)

    Mandys last blog post..Works for me Wednesday

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  2. I find it funny you blog about this, because I was just talking about this yesterday.

    The church rummage sale normally consists of only junk. People think, “hey, the church is having a rummage, we can donate it, because they’ll come pick it up, and afterwards they’ll take it somewhere.” It’s became an easy way to get rid of stuff that nobody would want. In all honesty, it just pisses me off.

    We are about to have a rummage to raise some initial money for the church plant, and we have basically told people, WE DO NOT WANT YOUR JUNK. Not trying to be rude, but we are trying to raise money, and if someone wants to help us by donating to us and letting us take profit, then that is fine, but don’t give us something that is destroyed and not even useable.

    Okay…I’m finished.

    http://www.vagabondrunn.wordpress.com

    Kyles last blog post..LIFE & ABORTION

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  3. Ok I’m going to go against the grain here. Let me start off by saying yes I agree that if something is truly garbage it should be thrown away and not donated. Here is where the rub lies. My idea of what is garbage is totally different then someone who might be homeless and anything they can use to survive is a blessing. I would not want to throw away something that someone could really use. To me this is like a set of middle class goggles that I wear. I opt on the side of maybe someone could use this when I donate to the thrift stores. I also make sure I shop at the thrift stores. Not sure if I’m doing my argument justice here. All I’m really trying to say is who am I to decide what someone else might need or could use. I also give “First Fruits”, “Middle fruits”, and “Garbage Fruits.”

    Heath Spurlocks last blog post..James 3

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  4. After reading what you have written about how people will donate pure trash to thrift stores, it makes we wonder about how refuse collection in that neighborhood is paid for.
    Shortly before leaving Carrollton, OH to live in Columbus in 2001, that small town had adopted a “pay as you throw” system where we paid for refuse collection by buying specially printed trash bags. Is it possible that donations to thrift stores are a thinly-veiled way to avoid paying for refuse collection?

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  5. @george this is sometimes not quite so veiled, but, yes, I have seen this to be the case. I think this is exactly why Goodwill Industries started actually refusing “some” donated materials. I think the Salvation Army also does this now, but those are just the two biggies, our thrift store will accept any donation mainly to keep from offending the ones who really are donating what they think is good but will be later thrown away.

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  6. I agree with you on the trash concept. I have seen it from the church sale standpoint and volunteering at the thrift store standpoint. Good thing is most folks at my church donate GOOD stuff for the sale and struggle with parting with it most times. We toss the trash before it goes out to the thrift store when we are done. Another man’s trash is NOT always another’s treasure and it is pretty obvious at times what is trash. Interesting thing is every year I come home to see all the stuff I have and wish I gave more of it away! And I love finding deals at the Thrift store! Why pay thirty bucks for jeans when you can get them for 3? haha

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  7. Now I’m just upset with people. I’ve always had these weird feelings when people suggest that we “just take it to goodwill.” Like the other day with a box (half torn up itself) full of half used sidewalk chalk. I’m sure there are some people that would gladly receive this somewhere, but it has just always bothered me. If we care so much about giving to the “less fortunate” then why don’t we just go out and buy stuff new and donate that? Anyway, I’ll think more about it from now on and try to speak my part when people drop those comments.

    b/s last blog post..New Blog Site

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  8. Ok, somehow I posted this in the wrong place, so take two. I like my closets fairly clean. I also hate waste. Therefore, I donate often. I think there may be a lot of people like me, who don’t think or realize that there is a cost to the thrift for garbage…closet needs cleaning out, I get it done. Stuff goes to thrift, out of my house. I am happy. I haven’t considered the other end, just thought, “Surely there is someone out there that could use this.” I didn’t think all the way through, living too much in my bubble. The point of donations is that it supposed to benefit others. I will do better next time.

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