By Kaileigh Carew
Produced for online by Jorja McDonnell
Charity shops across the state are being used as dumping grounds for rubbish, which Queenslanders could quite easily dispose of themselves.
Volunteers at places such as Vinnies or the Salvos are putting their own health and safety at risk by sorting through hundreds of bags of dangerous goods.
St. Vincent De Paul Helensvale key holder, Marilyn Dawson, says some of the items they’ve received have been biohazards.
“Some people have donated their soiled underwear and rubbish. One day there was a bag of jewellery with a condom in it.”
While the op shops need donations to survive and continue their work, the extra work that comes with sorting through (literal) garbage left on the doorstep takes profit away from the store, and the people they seek to assist.
More so, it affects the volunteers, says Tracy Connor, from the Orphans and Widows charity store in Toowoomba.
“It does affect volunteers, of course it does. Medically it can affect volunteers, in the sense you’ll get a rash on your face, that medical side of it.”
Leaving rubbish under the guise of a donation is certainly more than just ignorance, according to Psychologist Dr. Michael Neilson.
“Some malicious people with other issues may do it because they think it’s funny, even though it’s not. More often it’s just laziness, not ignorance, when people are giving dirty nappies or prawn shells… there’s no respect or regard for the job the op shop is trying to do.”
Ms Connor agrees, with Dr Nielson, and sees the laziness first hand in the Toowoomba region.
“If you’re talking about the Toowoomba region, the tip is far out of town for most people, and our council doesn’t have a recycling bin for these things. There’s nothing coming forward where recycling of clothing is concerned.”
She also says in the store, the manager often takes it upon herself to dispose of donation bags which are wet, smelly or hazardous, and does so every day.
“It has an effect on the volunteers, for sure”.
On behalf of volunteers in charity shops, Ms O’Connor has one final message:
“Do the right thing by the community; and it’s not just the shops, it’s the community. We have plenty of bin sites, but at the end of the day use your wheely bins, because that’s what the council provide them for. Be courteous to your community and remind yourself: if you wouldn’t wear it, then don’t give it”.