As we approach the end of the year, many households will plan to declutter after the holidays and start the new year fresh by donating clothing and household items.
“Goodwill is grateful for the donations we receive, which we sell in our stores to fund the employment and training services that we provide to thousands of people each year,” said Jaymie Eichorn, chief marketing officer of Goodwill Industries of Northwest North Carolina. “But occasionally, an item may present a hazard to our employees without the donor even realizing it.”
Donors can help ensure the safety of Goodwill employees and shoppers by being aware of items that present a risk:
- Batteries, lightbulbs, and other “left-behind” components. It’s easy to accidentally forget a lightbulb left in a donated lamp, or batteries left inside of toys or small appliances. But lightbulbs can break easily, and batteries contain toxic chemicals that can leak.
- Aerosol cans. Goodwill cannot sell items that come in aerosol cans, like cosmetics, paint, pesticides, or cleaning supplies. Punctured or damaged aerosol cans can explode or even ignite.
- Hazardous liquids and materials. In addition to the danger of direct exposure, materials like paint, kerosene, propane, and other chemicals require specialized disposal. Goodwill is not licensed to sell or dispose of hazardous materials.
- Recalled consumer products. Items like car seats, baby cribs, playpens, and even exercise equipment are often recalled by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). Goodwill cannot sell recalled items because of the potential danger they pose to shoppers.
- Items whose disposal is legally restricted. Some items have strict regulations for their sale or disposal, such as building materials, auto parts, kerosene heaters, and CRT televisions. Additionally, large and heavy CRT televisions and monitors pose risks to employees when they are moved or transported.
In addition to items in these categories, damage due to leaking cans or broken glass renders items unsaleable. If an item is not in saleable condition, the costs of handling or disposal pulls funds that would otherwise support Goodwill’s workforce development programs.
Eichorn advised donors to carefully check items before bringing them to an organization that accepts used items. “Double check that you’ve removed batteries or lightbulbs, and that boxes don’t contain any spray bottles or cans,” she said. “Wrap breakable items like glassware in newspaper or padding. And don’t forget to check inside of pockets, purses, and bags to make sure that there are no personal items inside.”
“We appreciate the generosity of the donors that make Goodwill’s mission possible,” Eichorn said. “By keeping those unsafe items out of your ‘donate’ box, you’re protecting our employees and shoppers. You’re also helping ensure that we get the most value possible from those donated items so that we can continue to serve more than 34,000 people each year.”