Local Charities Warn Donations in Green Bins Don't Stay Locally
By Nadia Crow, Reporter
CORALVILLE, Iowa - Do you know where your clothing donations are going? If you're dropping them into green bins that are popping up around the corridor, they're not going to any area non-profits. The bins make it easy for people to drop-off items they no longer need, but Goodwill says many of these bins are coming from out-of-state for-profit companies. These collection boxes come in an array of colors. The ones populating Eastern Iowa are bright green from a company called Operation Green.
Local non-profits just want people to understand where these donations are going. You can donate wherever you please, but Goodwill says these boxes are misleading. On the outside of these collection bins, it asks you to donate "Clothes and Shoes," but whatever you put in the slot does not go to Goodwill, the Salvation Army or any other local charity.
“I was pretty shocked that these just popped up in my parking lot,” said Coralville’s McGregor’s Furniture Store Manager Scott Marks.
Big green bins litter the parking lots of big stores in Eastern Iowa on heavily traveled roads where you can't help but notice them. One used to sit outside McGregor's Furniture in Coralville.
“I assumed they were from Goodwill which I would have no problem with, if they wanted to put something in our parking lot,” Marks said.
But the CEO of Goodwill of the Heartland says these aren't their boxes. 70% of Goodwill's income comes from donations to the stores. These boxes belong to Illinois based Operation Green.
“They are for-profit companies that are taking the resources out of the state and really not providing much local benefit,” said CEO & President of Goodwill of the Heartland Pat Airy.
USAgain is another company that has donation bins in Eastern Iowa. It's a separate company from Operation Green. USAgain's website clearly states it's a for-profit organization with the goal to reduce products in the landfill. But giving to them could mean fewer donations to groups like Goodwill.
“We have pretty steady donations all year long. Summer is the biggest time when people think about spring cleaning and cleaning out their closets so the impact is always great to us,” said Airy.
McGregor's Store Manager Scott Marks called Operation Green and had them remove the bin outside his store.
“I've never seen a truck out there I've never seen anyone out there and no one has ever contacted us about them,” said Marks.
But plenty more of these bins remain in front of local businesses. Owners tell us, no one authorized them to be there. Both companies say it's a free marketplace and they're filling a void; giving people more options on where to donate their clothes and shoes.
What's On KCRG