Charity Bags

Is there a charity bag season? If so, then we're in it! After quite a long period with few little plastic bags through the door, printed with requests to be filled with nice things they can sell, there have been lots recently, including five this week!

I thought they were supposed to collect them even if empty, so they could be used elsewhere but usually they don't.

Does this model for charity collections work well? With so many bags, most of them must be ignored or forgotten and then thrown away and no-one has enough stuff to fill five bags in a week!

The Cystic Fibrosis Trust bag which came today says the bag will be collected by a commercial partner who receives a share of the proceeds. This way of operating seems common and it makes me a little uncomfortable. Presumably it must generate enough income or the commercial partner wouldn't find it worthwhile but how much of what people donate does the charity end up with? If people knew the amount, might it affect their generosity?

Sometimes I see bags being delivered, but I don't see the kind of people I'd expect - those who volunteer in charity shops - who are mostly retired older ladies. I see young men for whom it seems to be casual employment, just like delivering leaflets. Does it matter?

I'm going to start keeping a list here.
This week's crop:

1. National Blind Children's Society. Have you heard of them? I haven't. They are working with textile recycler care2collect and will collect filled bags but presumably not empty ones.

2. PDSA (themselves!) collect full or empty bags. That's good but I care more about people than animals.

3. RNLI - 'working with Local Community Recycling Services Ltd.' who offer all they collect to RNLI and get what they don't want; that sounds pretty fair.

4. NSPCC & Clothes Aid (Services) Ltd. I don't know the latter but they say they'll donate at least £75 per tonne of clothes collected to NSPCC. Is that good? Who benefits more?

5. Cystic Fibrosis Trust plus unnamed commercial partner.

What do you think? Do you donate this way? Are you weighed down with charity bags? What do you do with them?

[added] As I said, those five above arrived this week. I have a pile of others including:
5x NSPCC & Clothes Aid (Services) Ltd.
7x National Blind Children's Society and care2collect
5x Cystic Fibrosis Trust & commercial partner
3x Age Concern
3x Kidney Research
3x Help the Aged
1x British Heart Foundation
1x Prama Care
1x Scope
1x RNLI & Local Community Recycling Services Ltd.
1x SOS Children's Hearts Ltd.
2x Europe Family Links, supporting disadvantaged children and families

The best one is 2x 'Helping Arms' which says nothing about it being a charity or who it benefits. It does have a company registration number but no apparent charity number. They have a Yahoo email address!

Charity Bags Business

The ‘Charity’ clothing bags are once again dropping through our front doors so I decided to enquire into why we receive such a large number from a wide range of companies
An article I found in the Guardian website makes for interesting reading.

To summarise.
The Distributor/Collector of the ‘Charity’ bags will sell clothing on the International Market for around £500 to £1000 per tonne.
For that same tonne they will donate £50 to £80 to the designated charity showing a minimum return of 900% (yes! Nine Hundred Percent) not surprising that so many companies are at it.
According to the Guardian article the shops run by the charity concerned would realise £500 to £800 net profit per tonne if the clothing was sold in their shops/events.

There are numerous locally based charities asking for our help with donations so please pack up your unwanted clothing and articles and deliver them direct to the charity concerned so the money raised can go to do the most good.
Charities that do not run shops have regular table top sales at fairs or car boots so may well be interested in your donated articles.
If transport is a problem then ring your chosen charity as they may be able to help with the collection.

David Wright

I thought it was just me, I

I thought it was just me, I get several of these bags every single week, it seems like such a waste. I wish the charities would get together and sort it out, its a waste of money.

Bags of bags

Like you, I have problems with uncollected charity bags.

I don't put my offerings to charities into the delivered bags and leave them out to be collected. I prefer to take things to Charity shops in my local town. I have a good idea of what each of the several Charity shops take and sell, so I can filter things into what I think is the best place, which seems to me to be a better and more efficient way of giving goods to charities with a reasonable chance of them actually being offered for sale rather than being ragged or binned.

That leaves me with a collection of the bags that aren't collected from my doorstep, even though I leave them out on the right day and in spite of the promises of the charities. So what's the best and most environmentally beneficial way of disposing of them? I take them to my local supermarket and add them to their plastic bag recycling bin. Is that a good idea?

I'm tempted to post them back to the Charity (without a stamp) but my conscience won't let me do that as it would incur high postage charges for the charity. Has anyone got any better ideas?

No, I don't think that £75 per tonne of clothes collected donated to NSPCC is good. That sounds like the ragging price to me. Charity shops receive clothes etc that aren't suitable for selling in their shops, too worn or dirty etc, so they sell them to be used as rags. But surely any clothes that are of good condition and donated to NSPCC should have a chance to be sold in a shop and re-worn rather than going straight to being ragged?

Unwanted Charity Bags

Hi, I run a company called Sackm8. We specialise in the collection and re-distribution of unwanted / uncollected charity bags.
My previous job was as one of those guys seen on the street collecting the full bags and, yes - ignoring the empties !!
I realised that it must be a massive waste for everyone involved but it just was not practical to jump out of the van for 1 bag now and again,when I distributed thousands per week myself, plus you get paid for full bags, not empty ones.

We now have a team of local collectors and are spreading out nationally over this year to collect your bags.

We collect for 4 major charities under licence but also by default collect all the others, which will be coming on line this year.

If you have any requirement for getting rid of your bags or live in a popular area for receiving bags and would like a regular collection in your town or village, please contact me on or ring 0808 2626 269.

Or simply send me an interesting story about what you do with those pesky bags.

[editor's note: please post your interesting thoughts on charity bags here (just click "reply") so we can all read and respond. You could send it to him as well if you like.]

Returning Charity Bags?

In my last post I mentioned that we collect unwanted charity bags.
As the weeks have progressed, we have found a few similar villages like yourselves asking us if we can provide a one stop drop off point for your bags. This is something we didn't expect and I would be interested to know if any local shops in your area would like to host this service. We would place a box (not too big) in a prominent area of the shop and once a month, we will arrange collection of it.
As part of the deal, we will place free advertising on the back of our flyers to promote the shop in the local area.

Many thanks, Don email

or twitter me at sackm8

Unwanted business

Again this sounds like yet another business that will be living off the charities involved. I am sure that the charities involved wont want this extra cost and I am sure that the Royal mail would provide a free service to the charities in question so that we can send our empty bags back to there owners rather than providing yet another drain on the charities by allowing another business to make a living off them

David walsh


"We would place a box (not too big) in a prominent area of the shop and once a month, we will arrange collection of it."

I think this could work. Lots of people regularly shop at one of the Co-ops and other businesses in the village. If they're unhelpful, maybe the Parish Council Office would have one, or even better: a new container for these bags at the recycling point behind the library.

Perhaps someone could mention this suggestion to the Co-op manager or in other likely popular shops.

Charity Bags

Dear CMO,

I haven't posted on your site for a while as I have been working on new contracts. I am pleased to announce that we are now collecting unfilled charity bags for 6 national charities, with more to join this year.
I noted the comments regarding my company feeding off charities and would like to state the following for the record.
Sackm8 actually saves charities around 50% of their costs for new bag purchases. In the case of national charities, this could amount to hundreds of thousands of pounds per year. This money is desperately needed for each individual concern and helps to improve and in some cases, saves lives. Secondly, our company is slowing the speed at which landfill is being created, by the re-use of these otherwise redundant bags. We have virtually no waste too, because we have an outlet for any bags that are rejected by our customers. Thirdly, we have recently started national interviews for local collectors. We estimate that by the end of 2012, Sackm8 will be employing 200 new staff. Most of which will be between the ages of 18 and 24.
Lastly, on a more upbeat note. We are still very interested in placing one of our plastic bins in a prominent place. Somebody mentioned the parish council offices ! If they are willing, we promise to give 1 pence for every charity bag that is collected. You could raise money for a well deserved concern or a local cause, the choice is yours.
Please email Don at if anyone wishes to start this up.
Many thanks, Don

Money back from charity bag re-use

Don from sackm8 said "We are still very interested in placing one of our plastic bins in a prominent place. Somebody mentioned the parish council offices ! If they are willing, we promise to give 1 pence for every charity bag that is collected. You could raise money for a well deserved concern or a local cause, the choice is yours."

I think the main Co-op may be a better place than the Parish Council office as they are open for many more hours each week, have many more people through the doors and have the space to accomodate a bin. The Parish Council office may also be agreeable but I haven't spoken to them and the office is pretty small.

I spoke to the manager of the Co-op who agreed that a bin could be placed there. Unless there any objections, perhaps you Don could contact him to discuss the details.

We need to nominate a local charity to benefit from the income generated. Nominations please.

Best value and least waste

I can see the sense in sorting your unwanted items and taking them to the charity shops which will get the most from selling them; they should be pleased that you go to the effort.

I realise that a lot of what's given is not sold in charity shops; some is taken to poorer countries, some is recycled as rags while some is presumably just rubbish. I've seen piles of teeshirts, trousers, shoes etc. in markets in Africa but it doesn't mean the original owner should be disappointed even if someone provides a distribution service and makes a small amount for their trouble. I'm less happy with intermediary companies here at home, using a well-known charity's name and public generosity to generate their revenue.

We all get more charity bags than we could ever fill and they rarely come and collect empty ones, so I'd prefer to see them used as bags for rubbish or storage but recycling is still better than adding to the shameful quantities of rubbish we send to landfill and you can't incinerate plasic.

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