Those Sidewalk Clothing Donation Bins Are Just as Shady as They Seem

May 30, 2013 | Andy Cush

Lately, donation boxes have been popping up around Brooklyn–this Brooklyn Paper article mentions Bay Ridge; I’ve seen them in Sunset Park–run by companies like USAGain, Spingreen, and Green Tree, that collect old clothes from neighborhood residents and   vaguely “reuse” them, without much explanation as to what that reusing entails.

And while it’s true that most the donations don’t generally go to landfills, the companies are less philanthropic than they make themselves out to be. Green Tree sells of up to 97% of its collections for “reprocessing,” and USAGain sells nearly all of its donations to thrift stores and “recycles or throws out the remainder.” Spingreen gives 25% to charity and gives the remaining 75% to recyclers (it’s unclear whether they’re turning a profit).

So if you have some clothes you’d like to get rid of and you’d rather not schlep to the Buffalo Exchange, then by all means, drop them in the box. But don’t think that they’re being donated.