With charity shops closed, people have found other ways to get rid of unwanted items.
The great ‘Covid-19 clear-out’ across the UK saw many people who were furloughed or working from home having an almighty sort out of their homes – leaving charity shops bereft of donations.
Now that charity shops are beginning to reopen, UK waste and recycling company BusinessWaste.co.uk has learned that donations have more than halved on previous years, as people are too impatient to wait for them to reopen and have thrown away their potential donations.
“The natural cycle of throwing things out has been shaken up with the Coronavirus lockdown,” says company spokesman Mark Hall.
“Because it’s taken so long to reopen charity shops, three months’ worth of items have ended up in local landfills, or wrapped up as gifts for the poor individuals who’ve had lockdown birthdays.”
The joys of regifting
People have been waiting impatiently for charity shops to return, and it has driven many to throw their unwanted items away at local recycling centres.
In fact, tips were so busy when they reopened in some parts of the UK, local councils have been asking people to book a tip run appointment in advance.
But ultimately this has had a knock-on effect, as charity shop volunteer Wendy tells us: “it’s a shame for us because the government allowed the local tip to be opened before us, so naturally people took all of their stuff there.”
But some of the lucky items that weren’t slung into a giant bin at the tip have found themselves in the reluctant hands of family and friends.
UK based waste specialists BusinessWaste.co.uk asked people online about regifting during the lockdown, and it turns out some have absolutely no shame in offloading their junk onto their loved ones:
• “I had the worst birthday ever in lockdown, all of my family just gave me their old junk. My grandad gave me a dictionary that was printed in 1983, and all the pages with naughty words on them were ripped out so I couldn’t even get a laugh out of it.” – Chris, Leicester
• “I sent my niece some bits for her birthday through the post, including a toiletry set I got for Christmas. But because I’d opened it and used a little of the moisturiser before I decided to give it away, it leaked all over the place and ruined everything in the box.” – Jill, Weymouth
• “My brother gave me some DVDs, and to be honest I was looking forward to watching Fight Club until I opened the case and found the disc for The Sound of Music instead. To be fair, there were a few fight scenes towards the end, so it wasn’t a complete loss.”- Jack, Taunton
• “Bath salts? No thanks” – Vic, Basingstoke
When the doors do not reopen
For some charity shops in the UK, their donation days may be over.
Charity shops have only recently reopened on 15th June after almost three months of being closed, meaning that a lot of charities have lost out on a quarter of the year’s potential takings.
Charities such as Cancer Research are predicting a decline in fundraising income by 25%, and Oxfam has been losing £5million a month in revenue with all their shops closed.
Age UK have announced that they will have to make some staff redundant as they prepare to close stores, and one branch of The Wessex Cancer Trust in Cosham is only reopening its doors for a large clearance sale before shutting up shop for good.
Mark Hall: “It’s such a shame for these shops to be closing, but without donations, fundraising and sales, they cannot afford to continue.”
But the shops that are reopening will gladly take any donations, and to reassure customers that they are safe from contamination, all donations will be quarantined for three days and disinfected before going on the shelves.
If you’re unsure if your local charity shop is accepting donations, BusinessWaste.co.uk recommend calling ahead to ask them instead of assuming they don’t want your stuff and dumping it.
Hall: “You never know, someone out there might be desperately searching for your unwanted copy of Robbie Williams Greatest Hits.
“OK, perhaps not.”