Contributing Used Goods

February 26, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-02-25 at 1.30.37 PMAs most of you know by now, in December I moved back to Portland. This involved cleaning out a home I’d lived in for nearly 12 years. I accumulated a lot of things! After a very successful garage sale, I still had numerous possessions with which to part ways.

Fortunately, the Monterey Peninsula is home to a plethora of nonprofits and their benefit shops. By the time I packed everything and was driving north, these remaining items had found their way to one of ten different organizations!

After making stops at a few nonprofits and benefit shops, I decided to start making a list and was truly surprised at the diversity of organizations I found to contribute to: a children’s museum, a library, an interfaith group, a group supporting children, and another helping others to age gracefully. I was even able to help a young woman who was getting out of an abusive relationship to set up a new home. These go way beyond the Goodwill and Salvation Army drop-off centers I’ve found back in the Portland area.

I’m proud to have been able to contribute brand new or gently used items to these groups so they could use them or sell them to achieve their missions.

What the research says…

According to a recent Harris Poll, it seems that contributing used clothing or other used items is more popular among older generations. Ninety percent of respondents over age 68 (Matures) contribute used clothing compared to 54% of Millenials (respondents ages 18-36). As for other used items, 69% of Matures contribute versus 32% of Millenials. For other Gen Xers, like myself, 70% of them contributed used clothing and 42% contributed other used items.

I guess I’m a bit surprised by these figures. This seems like such an easy way to give back, especially if you don’t have money to give. We all have things we’ve used, set aside, and forgotten about. Why haven’t younger generations, who seem to be more environmentally conscious as well, caught on to contributing used items?

Other questions I’m pondering…

Even before reading this study, I started thinking about some other questions…when we contribute in this way, do we think less about the organization or cause we’re helping? Or does that still matter? Is it more about who is benefiting or about passing along things we no longer use?

There are so many questions to consider when we give. In this case, for me, it was more of an afterthought almost. I chose to “spread the wealth” given that there are so many worthy organizations in the Monterey area. And I found this was an easy way to give to causes I might not normally support. I’m curious, what has been your experience with contributing used items?