Why is Oakland Trying to Ban Donation Boxes?

Got clothes, appliances or other gently used stuff lying around? For many of us, the easiest option is to donate these items to charitable organizations for reuse and resale. To make it easier for citizens to participate in this type of reuse and recycling, organizations often place drop-off donation boxes around a metro area. In Oakland, however, these convenient containers are the subject of unexpected controversy.

Days ago, the Oakland City Council voted to place a temporary moratorium on unattended donation boxes placed on city streets. The moratorium comes as the city is considering measures to regulate the bins, and many fear they will be permanently banned. But why?

They say it’s in response to several (read: not many) residents who have complained that the boxes near their homes are magnets for those looking for a place to illegally dump their trash.

Does this occasionally happen? I don’t doubt it. Is it a good reason to permanently ban donation boxes? Absolutely not. Beyond that, there’s speculation that the moratorium is part of an agenda that has nothing to do with illegal dumping.

“The city claims the boxes are a source of uncontained trash/blight, but the city has not provided any documentation of complaints,” states a press release from Campus California, an established textile recycling program benefiting people around the world. “The Unattended collection boxes being targeted are set on private property to collect clothes, shoes and books with permission from Property and/or business owners.”

Campus California goes on to suggest that the ban, like similar policies enacted by other California cities, is being promoted by for-profit used clothing collectors who operate in brick and mortar locations — companies who have an obvious monetary motivation to limit the public’s donation options.

“It is difficult to accept that the disturbing relationship between big business and government can crush such an effective and community supported effort to recycle and reuse valuable resources keeping them out of landfills, and making them available to people who can’t afford to buy new clothes — 70 percent of the World’s population,” explains Campus California.

It might seem like a stretch, but in other states, namely Michigan and Nebraska, this collusion was proven in court and struck down as an infringement on the right to free speech.

Those in the Oakland area who would like to see donation boxes regulated, but not banned, are encouraged to send a message to their City Council Member.

Image via rusty_clark

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Janice Thompson
Janice Thompsonabout a year ago

These boxes, if a problem because they are not being routinely emptied and the organizations handling maintenance should be held responsible.

Marianne R.
Marianne R.1 years ago

One person will ruin it for all...

Jane R.
Jane R.1 years ago

I doubt that many people use these donation boxes for dumping their trash since we all have trash pick-up at our curbs.
I agree that they need to be emptied out on a regular basis as I've seen lots of bags of clothing etc. all around them.
If they were eliminated altogether most people would just toss their usable clothes in the trash. It's not always economical to drive miles away to make a donation to a Goodwill or Salvation Army Store. There aren't any in the town I live in. Why deny the needy from these items? I do understand that most donations are sold and not donated to the needy and I feel this is wrong. There should be a place that takes donations and gives them free of charge to those in need.
I have gone to a Goodwill store and their prices are way too high. They aren't helping the needy at all.

Carol S.
Carol S.1 years ago

I have seen boxes here used as dump sites :( They need to be monitored and collected from regularly otherwise people just leave boxes of things all around them. The one in the public library lot a few miles away overflows regularly. It is right down the street from a homeless shelter. The goods need to be collected and distributed regularly or it becomes nothing but a mess.

Phillip Ferrell
Phillip Ferrell1 years ago

Isn't it obvious?

Tina M.
Tina M.1 years ago

One more way to hurt those in need and people who want to help them.

Anne F.
Anne F.1 years ago

wish the city council would take action to make schools better, reduce the traffic, and create community gardens, rather than this

Roxana Saez
Roxana Saez1 years ago


Ramhit Oumar
Oumar R1 years ago

So the bottom line?...yes the clothes are taken and sold at thrift shops

when are people going to realize there is money to be made?....tell them you didn't get a receipt

Ron F.
Ron F.1 years ago

Oakland is not civilized enough to have donation boxes.