Trying to move the unattended collection box industry out of the shadows and into the light and keep the eight hundred pound gorilla, Goodwill, from lobbying us out of existence, our public Relations Director, Julie Wedge, went to San Jose to utilize her 2 minutes of public comment at the City council meeting regarding their proposed ordinance. Much as these things go, the city council sidestepped this contentious issue.
Not following a yearlong assessment that created the staff’s recommendations, which Campus California supported, the council voted to apply an unreasonable cap and a moratorium on applications that started the day of the meeting even though they have 18 pending applications. There was no fee structure, no guide lines as to where or how, just an angry refusal to deal with an important ordinance. It is really a mess that everyone involved is trying to figure out. The planning staff even had to ask for clarification at the end of the meeting as to what it was that the council voted for. One thing we are certain of – this will deter recycling.
What is really going on is summed up nicely, in this article from sanjoseinside, by John Lindsay, a top exec for anti-drug education nonprofit D.A.R.E.
“At the state and local level, Goodwill continues to incorporate legislation as part of their business strategy to reduce or eliminate competition.”
Unlike the small non-profits that use unattended collection boxes as a way to fundraise or even the similar sized for-profits that collect textiles and shoes as their business model, Goodwill has a very large pool of employees and volunteers that can drive around finding boxes and write complaint letters to their respective governments. We hear very tight “talking points”, created by Goodwill, coming from planning department staff when “someone” complains about a box. We hear about graffiti, blight, all the same things that are said by the hordes of Goodwill employees that utilize their public comment time at city council meetings. We also hear about how Goodwill has to pay for permitting their store front collection sites and it isn’t fair that the unattended collection box industry doesn’t have as high an expense. It is all about competition and Goodwill has decided it is cheaper to complain and use their influence to legislate the competition out of existence rather than doing a better job of collecting clothing and shoes. According to EPA estimates, everyone in this industry, both for and non profit, only capture 15% of the textiles that get discarded leaving a whopping 85% hitting the landfills. Seems there is lots more work to do, but Goodwill is using its muscle to get in the way and not its brain to help find a better solution.
In response to the San Jose City Council vote, Milan R. Balinton from the San Jose African American Community Services Agency sent this email in our support. Campus California is lucky to have a non-profit partnership with the SJAACSA and has a box at their site. When they have clothing, toy or book needs, Campus California gives them what has been collected in our bins that best the request.
It is important to have drop off boxes just as we have needed physical places like the Goodwill donor sites, for citizens to drop off at their leisure time. We have had an overwhelming amount of donors stop by our nonprofit, asking can they drop off items and we refer them to the green box/bin located in our parking lot for the time being, because we cannot store clothes inside our building at this time.
You have my support! Your organization helps in more ways than one.
Strength in Unity,
Milan R. Balinton
Check out the article from sanjoseinside and leave a comment on this post. Julie has meetings with 6 of the 11 council members offices – still no members are willing to discuss this – this week. Comment and wish her luck!