Clothing donation bins aren’t the problem

The weekly editorial for the 100 Mile Free Press

In recent weeks, deaths from donation bins have been a frequent topic in the news, including a 34-year-old man in West Vancouver. This has prompted all kinds of responses. The municipality sealed donation bins in search of safer options. At least one charity has pulled their clothing donation bins and at least one manufacturer has stopped making the bins, instead focussing on improving the bins.

RELATED: Donation bin deaths prompt Canadian manufacturer to stop

RELATED: Third B.C. city bans clothing donation bins after recent deaths

This all seems like quite a bit of action. However, and perhaps most importantly, removing or closing the bins doesn’t really solve the problem. It’s also important to note, there are costs attached to all of this. There are the costs of charities losing revenue from not getting donations, there are the costs of redesigning or manufacturing new bins, there are the environmental costs of some people undoubtedly garbaging their used clothing in absence of donation bins. At least one hospital charity said pulling the bins would mean a 25 per cent loss of fundraising costs. This creates a bit of a trolley problem. If you don’t remove the bins, it’s only a matter of time before someone else dies inside a bin and that’s obviously not acceptable. If you do remove the bins, the cost to the charities could just as well cost lives on the other end, for example, if it means poorer care or older medical equipment.

Removing or “fixing” the bins is little different from putting bandages on plague sores: it attempts to deal with the symptoms but not the underlying cause.

Assuming the perspective of a homeless person, currently, they’re faced with a choice of climbing into a potentially deadly clothing donation bin or facing the consequences of not climbing in a donation bin. Given the deaths inside clothing bins, clearly, some are willing to risk it. That’s the real problem here; some homeless people are so desperate that they’re willing to risk dying by climbing in.

From that perspective, removing or retrofitting the bins doesn’t make any sense. If by removing the bins, the consequence is homeless people freezing to death because they don’t have adequate clothing or going to even more extreme measures, all we’ve done is displaced the problem. Surely the logical, or at the very least compassionate, response to people climbing into clothing donation bins is not to incur a bunch of costs to make bins less accessible but rather to provide clothing or shelter?

Choosing instead to “homeless proof” donation bins not only seems quite rude to homeless people, essentially saying they can’t be trusted with a clothing donation bin, but it’s also about the most American solution possible to the problem. Then again, maybe that’s just the way we’re heading.


newsroom@100milefreepress.net

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

100 Mile RCMP make an arrest after nurse assaulted

RCMP responded to approximately 98 calls for service during the past week (Nov. 6 to Nov. 12)

100 Mile workshop offers kids a chance to build and learn the guitar

‘We are very fortunate to be able to offer this to the kids’

Remembrance Day ceremony held in the Interlakes area

Approximately 80 residents in attendance

VIDEO: Canadian allergists’ group wants Benadryl behind the counter due to side effects

Some doctors say the medication is over-used because of its easy availability

Yelling at your dog might hurt its long-term mental health: study

Researchers find dogs trained using negative reinforcement are more ‘pessimistic’

Vancouver Island soap company releases Lucky Lager beer soap

Beer-infused olive oil soap comes out just in time for holiday shopping

Jagmeet Singh says he’ll vote against throne speech if NDP requests not met

Singh is to meet with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Thursday

Community uses loophole to paint 16 rainbow crosswalks after B.C. council says no

So far 11 rainbows are painted and five planned, all since council denied the first proposal in September

Workers’ camp at LNG facility in Kitimat takes shape

Extensive worker camp now being assembled

Former B.C. youth pastor guilty on one of five sexual assault allegations

Judge cites reasonable doubt in finding Cloverdale couple not guilty of majority of charges

238 and counting: Vancouver gelato shop sets Guinness World record for most flavours

Vince Misceo has come up with 588 different flavours over the decades

Killer who fled to Taiwan day after shooting B.C. man over $80 sentenced 13 years later

The sentence comes 13 years after Shaoxin Zhang, 19, was killed in a Burnaby parking lot

Most Read