April 7, 2023 | OPINION | By Maddie Mollerus
Hey Upper Colorado Springers, Gossip Girl here. Some of you may be wondering where I’ve been – I haven’t written for an entire block. Well, I’ve been chasing down a juicy exposé that will have you all quaking in your Blundstones.
In my last column, I wrote about why donating is not the magic solution to getting old clothes from your closet to a closet in need. TL; DR: Most of what you donate to places like Goodwill and the Arc isn’t suitable to be resold in store, so it ends up as scraps in landfills, or floods textile markets in other countries and ruins local economies. Not cute.
After my article was published, a hot tip landed in my inbox from someone intimately familiar with a secondhand store in the Springs. They detailed exactly the types of things I wrote about happening at other thrift stores around the country. If my last article didn’t convince you because the scale was too broad, maybe my source’s account will hit a little closer to home.
The store in question that the individual worked at was the Salvation Army Family Store on Tutt Blvd.
The insider said that the store discarded “huge quantities of donations, not just clothing but household items as well.” The store didn’t have adequate storage space for the influx of inventory that they received every day. Additionally, there was not a big enough volume of products sold for space to free up for new donations.
Because of this, management could be highly selective of which items to keep and which items to throw away. They mentioned that the area the store was in was very affluent, so they were frequently given brand-name clothing and high-end household items. The insider said that this resulted in the store choosing “only the ‘best of the best.’”
In my previous article, I said that jackets donated out-of-season were the most likely to be sent overseas to be resold or turned into scrap. My source gave me an even more shocking detail: puffer coats that were donated in the summer went directly into the dumpster.
To the credit of the individual, they didn’t just stand by and watch these scandalous practices happen. They describe desperately trying to “find alternative paths for various items.” They even contacted Colorado College, because items left in dorms after the school year used to be donated to an organization that benefited various Native American reservations. They said, “I got lost in the labyrinth trying to find these things a good home.”
Ultimately, all these circumstances surrounding the wastefulness of donations led to this individual quitting from the Salvation Army Family Store.
I’m not here to tell you that you should stop shopping at secondhand stores. Thrift stores would not exist without donations in the first place. In fact, the Salvation Army Family Store on Tutt Blvd. sounds like it has some pretty good stuff. But the problem lies in the fact that people think that donating is just a one-size-fits-all solution – they just toss stuff they don’t need in the easiest, most convenient direction.
To help alleviate this problem, there are several things that we can do to help. Just like I mentioned in my last article (and emphasized by my inside source), only donate things that are in-season. Make sure your donations are in good condition, clean, and free of rips or missing buttons. If you want to bypass the whole secondhand store process entirely, you can donate old clothing directly to homeless shelters or other charities.
And stop buying fast fashion. Until next time, CC students. You know you love me. XOXO, Maddie Mollerus.