Originally published on Fair for All Guide.
The other day when I arrived at work, I found a mysterious box sitting on my desk. On it, this note from my coworker Katina:
Surprise boots! I giddily tried them on and modeled them for everyone in the department. I also got the origin story from Katina—the boots originally belonged to her cousin’s coworker, who gave them to Katina’s cousin, who gave them to Katina, who gave them to me. Whew!
The convoluted journey of these boots made me think about the ways our unwanted stuff circulates. One man’s trash is truly another man’s treasure (somebody didn’t want these boots! seriously!), but sometimes the path from person-with-stuff to person-who-wants-stuff isn’t easy to find.
My typical practice has been to throw all my unwanted stuff in a bag and take it all to Goodwill. Don’t get me wrong, this is way better than throwing it in the trash. But I’ve caught glimpses of the back rooms of some thrift stores… SO MANY PILES. And have you ever been to a Goodwill outlet? It’s the stuff that didn’t sell at regular Goodwill stores, and they sell it by the POUND. Eeek. The amount of stuff we donate is overwhelming, and when you donate to a thrift store, you’re rolling the dice on whether anyone else will even want it. Oftentimes surplus donations are shipped to developing countries overseas, which on the surface appears charitable but may actually undermine local economies.
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