Yes, Most of Those New Clothing Drop-Off Bins Are a Scam

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A clothing donation drop-off bin in Bed-Stuyvesant. Many of these bins are run by companies that actually re-sell the items, rather than donate them to charity.

Have you been noticing more and more of those bright-colored charity clothing bins showing up in your neighborhood? David Gonzalez of The New York Times investigated and found that, yes, many of them are a scam, and that the laws make it hard to remove once they’re in place. (To report a bin for removal, you can call 311 or report it to the Department of Sanitation online.)

Our Crowdsourced Guide To Donating Your Clothes

If you want to donate your old or unwanted clothes in a way that ensures that they’ll be put to good use (rather than sold for profit), you can follow these tips. We’ve crowdsourced them from the Department of Sanitation, charity organizations, and our listeners. (And don’t forget to ask for a receipt — it’s a tax write-off.)

  • Locate a spot to sell or donate your clothes. There are several websites to point you in the right direction, including the Department of Sanitation’s NYC Stuff Exchange, Goodwill, and the Salvation Army. We also really like the good folks at Housing Works and the Fashion Project lets you select a charity of your choice.
  • Use a legitimate collection bin. Nonprofits like Goodwill have their own bins, and the city has its own re-fashioNYC boxes. Go with a name you trust.
  • Call the Salvation Army. They’ll pick your clothes up right from your door, for free, at a time convenient to you.
  • Drop it off at the market. GrowNYC has collected over two million pounds of clothes since 2007 from Greenmarkets. You can add to that number by finding the closet one to you on their website.
  • Donate your stuff to an animal shelter. Everyone loves puppies and kittens, and they need towels for bathing animals and clothes for bedding. Here are some guidelines.
  • Swap for something better. There are tons of swap groups and online materials exchanges where you can trade your unwanted clothes for something better. One man’s trash…
  • Sell your clothes for cash. If you think you can squeeze some money out of your old outfits, you can sell them to a used-clothing store like Buffalo Exchange or Beacon’s Closet.

Do you have any other tips for us? Post them in the comments, tweet at us @BrianLehrer, or post it on our Facebook page.