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Warwickshire and Northamptonshire
Air Ambulance - clothing bank
(our thanks to the charity)
What are they called?: clothing banks, clothing containers, clothing bins, charity bins, donation boxes, drop-off boxes, recycling bins etc.
Locations: Recycling centres, car parks, streets etc.
Construction: Typically they're welded metal (sheet steel), painted, with signage (painted on and signs stuck on - eg vinyl).
Size: A common size is about 1.6 m x 1.6m x 1.6m.
This weighs around 350 kilograms (third of a tonne) (third of the weight of an average car).
Security: Most have features to stop people stealing the contents:
(a) clever hinged loading chutes to deposit your goods - which don't allow you to access the goods already in the bank, and (b) strong locks or padlocks on the door used to empty the bin.
Their owners empty them frequently - say weekly. How often they're emptied depends on (a) the size of the bin, and (b) how well-used the bin is.
House-to-house collectors which also operate clothing banks (and non-clothing banks) include :
Collection banks for non-clothes items: Some banks are dedicated to non-clothes donations - eg shoes, books, CDs/DVDs.
Commercial banks: Some banks are commercial (ie not "charitable") - eg those operated by Lawrence M Barry & Co (LMB).
With some clothing banks, the owner of the site receives payment - eg as rent. This is the case with Planet Aid and 'Green World Recycling' (eg banks in pub car parks) - see below.
Where do the clothes go to?
Re-use versus recycling :
Re-use is roughly 100 times more environmentally-friendly than recycling - in terms of energy use, global warming, pollution etc. See the page on Re-use and recycling for more on this.
Alas, thefts from clothing banks are common. Also, some clothing banks themselves have been moved by unauthorised third parties or stolen.
'Clothing donations stolen from Chippenham supermarket carparks'
- article (dated 20 April 2010) on thefts from Salvation Army clothing banks - Wiltshire
'Video of teenagers stealing clothes from charity bins' Daily Mirror website - 13 Feb 2011
Above: Clothes recycling banks (containers) - for 'Hope' and Barnardo's charities
Rushmere shopping centre, Craigavon, Co Armagh, Northern Ireland
Hover over image to enlarge it
This multi-national group of related organisations operates thousands of clothing banks worldwide. The group is controversial - it's seen by many as a 'scam'. Most of the organisations aren't charities. See the dedicated page on them :
For more on this (eg the pros and cons of each), see the following page :
'Council sell-off of clothing banks 'threatens survival' of charity shops'
'Councils are telling charities to make way for private companies willing to pay them for the right to recycle clothing'
Article (dated 29 May 2011) in The Observer.
With criticisms by British Heart Foundation and Scope.
'Clothes you give to charity ... sold for huge profits in trendy boutiques'
'Rags-to-riches scandal uncovers how council clothes banks are being misused'
Article (dated 14 April 2012) in Sunday Mirror.
'Charity sounds alarm over 'scam' drop-off boxes'
Article on CBC News Canada website - on clothing banks disguised as 'charitable'.
Dated 26 Sept 2011
'Clothing donation bins spark turf war in Ontario'
'Much of the money does not go to charity'
A meaty article on CBC News Canada website - dated 30 Jan 2012
The Planet Aid / Gaia page has more articles.
Metal Masters (MM) website of a clothing bank manufacturer (in Dudley, West Midlands)
www.RecyclingBin.com website of a clothing bin manufacturer - in the US (New Jersey)
Clothing and shoe bank - Oxfam charity