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