SoCal Goodwill stores asking people to stop donating trash

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Thrift stores like Goodwill are asking for a favor: stop donating your trash. They've been inundated recently with donations of junk like broken furniture, disfigured Barbie dolls and flashlights with leaking batteries.

At one Southern California Goodwill store, someone donated a used toilet seat. Although the person had the right intentions, not only can the item not be re-sold, it's headed to the landfill.

"It's not in great condition. If it were a brand new toilet seat in the box, perfect. We're thrilled to death. We'll put it on our floor and we'll sell that," said Jan Bartell, a district manager with Goodwill of Southern California.

"But, a used item of that sort, no, absolutely not," Bartell said. "When you're cleaning out your closet, your garage, the kids toy box, ask yourself, 'Would I buy this donated item?'"

Goodwill of Southern California averaged $2 million in trash removal costs over the last five years, collecting 22,000 tons of trash, excluding 2020 because they were closed.

Goodwill of Southern California calls their growing trash problem "wishcycling." Well-intentioned people hoping items can be recycled, that cannot.

"Our teams have to sort through so much product that quite frankly, we can't re-sell. This really uses labor hours that could easily be used on funding the programs that actually help people, that create jobs," said Bartell.

So why is this happening?

"It's because people have had time at home. They're really cleaning out, maybe doing remodeling projects. Items that were used in their home, they got great use out of it and they're thinking, 'Well someone else can use this, too,'" said Bartell.

It's pretty simple. You wouldn't want your child playing with a broken toy, so don't donate it. If your chair is missing a leg, Goodwill says it belongs in the trash because they don't do repairs.

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