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BadwillI'm embarking on the next chapter of my life, which involves a lot of purging (that's the problem when you mix two fully stocked households into one...) and one of the most ecological things to do during this period is to donate your excess belongings to a second-hand store of some kind. This phrase "just give it to Goodwill" is a fairly common one in these circumstances, Goodwill having become the Kleenex or Hoover of the second-hand goods industry.

Goodwill was a very green concept before it was fashionable to be green. Now it's only fashionable if it means green in their cash registers. Goodwill used to train people by fixing up some of the less perfect items, now they will only take something that is immediately resalable. This was not how they got their start in life, and this definitely not how a charitable organization of this type should operate.

Today was the last time I deal with them.

Why am I so upset with them? I have recently tried to take to them perfectly serviceable furniture - just some cosmetic defects - only to be shot down at the donation site by someone whose only word for unacceptable is "broken."

I had a perfectly good office chair that I needed to dispose of, because I have no use for it in my new home. I took this chair to the Goodwill store on San Carlos Road in San Jose - just around the corner from the apartment I was moving out of (but believe me, it is not a case isolated to just this location.) It was immediately refused, and the explanation given was that it was "broken." He showed me a tear in fabric around the bottom of the seat - that was it. This chair was otherwise perfectly solid. It rolled freely! It spun effortlessly! It wasn't even uncomfortable!

Here is their dos and don'ts:

Donation Dos

* Wash or dry-clean clothing.

* Test electrical equipment and battery-operated items.

* Include all pieces and parts to children's games and toys.

* Check with your local Goodwill Industries agency to determine standards for donating computers and vehicles. Read more about recommendations for donating a computer.

Donation Don'ts

* Leave items unattended outside a collection center.

* Donate broken or soiled items.

* Give items that have been recalled, banned, or do not meet current safety standards. For more information, visit the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

So in the don'ts it says "Don't donate broken or soiled items."

Now for a dictionary definition of the word broken:

physically and forcibly separated into pieces or cracked or split; "a broken mirror"; "a broken tooth"; "a broken leg"; "his neck is broken"

The previous day I had taken some items that were immediately accepted. One was a Hoover (not just generically, it was an actual Hoover) that was physically in great condition - but it could easily have been broken. The old "you can't judge a book by it's cover" routine. Yet today, a perfectly working chair - with some minor cosmetic issues - was refused.

The funny thing about how un-broken this chair was, is that upon returing to the apartment with it I threw it in a rage into the driveway. So now it has another cosmetic defect (now more visible, at the top of the back rest) but it is still NOT BROKEN!!!

I have never been one to suggest to people to not give to a charity, if it is within their means, but please DO NOT GIVE ITEMS TO GOODWILL OR SHOP AT THEIR STORES!!! There are other organizations that do this sort of work - like Teen Challenge and the Salvation Army (despite my dislike of the religious aspect of their business.) Also there are plenty of second-hand stores in every city, even though they may not be non-profit they may take your used items.

All Goodwill does for me now is make me want to just throw out things, and that is definitely badwill for all...

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