Trends are changing and more people are choosing to recycle, shop greener and opt for pre-loved goods over new.
Op shops are a great place to pick up a bargain and find unique items that can’t always be purchased elsewhere.
But a lot of effort goes into the process of having well stocked racks of clean, good quality garments and bric-a-brac for savvy shoppers to browse, and most of it is undertaken by hardworking volunteers.
It starts with donations made by the community, either in store or deposited in donation bins.
The Rotary Club of Barossa Valley has been involved with the collection of donated clothes for 40 years, and currently mans three bins: one across the street from the Tanunda Post Office; another in the southern carpark in The Co-op in Nuriootpa; and one in the carpark of Angaston Motors.
Rotarian, Don Farley is on the collection team along with over 20 other volunteers who empty the bins on a two week roster.
Don says many of the clothes end up at The Great Revival Shop in Tanunda and the Truro Community Op Shop.
“When the Great Revival Shop started in Kavel Arcade 27 years ago, a sorting team was created to sort and sell whatever was suitable. Not only clothes but toys, books, glassware, saucepans and all manner of stuff,” said Don.
A team of six work on the sorting team at the Men’s Shed in Tanunda each week, assessing what is good to sell, and what isn’t.
Despite clear labelling on the bins, many items end up in or around the bins that shouldn’t.
Rubbish, soiled clothes and shoes, dirty nappies, large furniture items, sharps and grass clippings are just a few of the items that the collection and sorting teams are left to deal with.
“I don’t know if it’s old fashioned thinking, laziness, or if they think they’re doing us a favour, I’m not really sure, but I think it needs a bit more education there. The signs that are on the bins aren’t enough,” said Ms Katarina Kulak, a volunteer at The Great Revival Shop.
Only good quality items that aren’t soiled or stained can be sold in the shop, and while some garments can go on to second lives as rags or dog bedding, the rubbish has to be dumped at the expense of the organisations, which can run into thousands of dollars over the course of the year.
It’s not uncommon for the team to find money or even drugs in the bins.
“We got two big bags of weed,” said Don.
“Our volunteer took it to the Nuri police and said, what’s this? They said Madam, that’s marijuana.”
$3,000 in cash was found on one occasion and retuned shortly after to a very grateful owner.
There are also many generous donations of brand new or high quality clothing put into the bins, which makes op shopping such a fabulous way to look stylish on a shoestring.
All the more reason to donate and recycle thoughtfully.
“If you won’t buy it, don’t give it,” said Katarina.