Don’t Put Your Unwanted Clothes In Those Pink Bins


For our second scamming-related story today, we turn to those pink used-clothing bins that have been popping up all over the city and especially in Brooklyn. In case you missed it, they’re an absolute crock.

According to the Times, the bins from Narciso Recycling Company/Viltex do not “Provide Money to Charities” as their labels claim, but instead, sell donated clothing to thrift shops and businesses overseas, directly benefitting the for-profit companies. What’s more, the bins are blocking public sidewalks, which is a violation of city law and an eyesore for those of us who live near them.

So, now that you know that they’re terrible, here are your options: If a new bin pops up near your apartment, feel free to place a call to the 311 hotline. The bin will be tagged and the owner will have 30 days to remove the offending receptacle. Cool. Unfortunately, that’s not the most effective way to deal with the bins. This year, the Department of Sanitation has tagged 2,006 of the bins, but only six percent, or 132 bins, have been hauled away.

The burden falls to us to stop using them. It doesn’t matter if that garbage bag full of acid wash jeans and peasant shirts is burning a hole in the corner of your room and you can’t bear to look at it for one more minute, don’t put it in those bins! Here’s a list of non-profits in Brooklyn that would love to take those used clothes off your hands. If enough of us stop using those piece-of-crap bins, maybe they’ll disappear for good.

Follow Nikita Richardson on Twitter @nikitarbk



  1. I love those bins. Maybe if it were more transparent that would be great but overall it’s great to have a place to put clothes we don’t want. Not all of us have wheels to take clothes to a local non profit.

    • Planet Aid is controversial for disturbing reasons. For starters, the Chicago-based CharityWatch gave Planet Aid an “F” grade after analyzing its 2012 tax form and audited financial statements, determining that Planet Aid spent only 27% of its expenses on programs.

      Google search:
      CharityWatch Debunks Planet Aid’s Recycling Program

      A charitable spending ratio of 27% is certainly too low, but the actual figure may be far lower than even that. In 2009, WTTG News in Washington DC examined Planet Aid’s then most recent tax records and noticed many of the overseas charities Planet Aid claims to support have the *same address*. A list of South African charities was shown in example. But the South African Embassy told WTTG those groups are *not* registered charities.

      WTTG’s investigation found that all of the charities listed in Planet Aid’s most recent tax return are controlled by the same parent organization — a group called International Humana People to People Movement, which, according to its own website, also controls Planet Aid. (Humana People to People is not affiliated with the health insurer ‘Humana’.)

      Worse, Danish prosecutors link Planet Aid and Humana People to People to an alleged cult called the Tvind Teachers Group. Five leaders of this group are Interpol fugitives wanted in their native Denmark in connection with a multimillion-dollar tax-fraud and embezzlement scheme.

      Google search:
      “Kindness into Cash” – exposé of used clothes company Planet Aid – pt. 1

      [More info is in the above report’s description box; click ‘Show more’ while on that page.]

      Another clothing collection company ― ‘USAgain,’ with the white and green bins ― has also attracted considerable bad press. Reports going back a decade suggest that the for-profit company, to quote one TV news investigation, “… routinely pretended to be a charity so business owners wouldn’t ask for rent on the bin space.”

      Danish authorities also tie USAgain to the Tvind Teachers Group.

      Google search the following two reports:

      Millions In Clothing Donations Diverted From Charity – kirotv

      Local Mayor Wants Red Bins Out – USAgain in Seattle – YouTube

      [More info is in the 2nd report’s description box; click ‘Show more’ while on that page.]

      Thanks for the chance to express my opinion. Research before you donate.

  2. If those clothes are taking up space and you can’t get to a thrift store, try Wearable Collections. A local Brooklyn based clothing recycling company who cover the cost of collections and donate up to 20% of the value of you clothing. Check out the website for more info about the company or to set up a collection.
    The problem of clothing in our landfills can be solved locally with local charities benefiting.

  3. Salvation army and goodwill are notorious for doing the same thing in developing countries especially africa…selling clothes rather than donating

  4. What this article does not address is the serious problem of overconsumption in the first place. Why do we live in a society where it’s perfectly normal to buy vast amounts of clothing (fast fashion, made cheaply/poorly and in poor conditions for garment factory workers) only to throw them away by next season? Why do we have so much stuff we don’t need? The discussion shouldn’t be about how to solve “our” problem of owning too much, but rather about why we have so much stuff in the first place. Buy quality clothing, buy vintage, buy only what you need and things that will last.

    • My children always knew that I “recycled” their clothes so that when they outgrew them others who could wear them would benefit. When I was growing up, we would give them to relatives or friends. It is a matter of not wasting, letting others use them rather than throw them out.

  5. The reason DOS didn’t remove more than the 6% is because these fake charities wait 29 days, take the bin and either wait a day and put them in the same spot or just move it immediately to another location, where the process will be repeated. There are legislators who are working on legislation to change the process and make sure they are immediately removed, the company is fined and nobody puts any of them on public property.

  6. Uhm, almost all of the boxes on the sidewalk feed recyclers. Did you know a lot of those boxes are actually stolen and repainted and placed illegally. Think about it, who is going to complain about a box on the sidewalk?

    You want to know the real scandal, all the clothes people donated for hurricane sandy, etc,… yup FEMA collected all that and sent it to the recyclers, I hear reports of fine silk clothing, getting ground up into “shoddy”, which they use to make insulation for example.

  7. Great article, Nikita! I have seen several of these bins throughout Brooklyn. You’re correct about calling 311. I complained about the bins via the 311 website and also spoke to someone from the Dept. of Sanitation over a month ago and nobody has come by to remove a bin near my house. If someone needs to make a donation, they should stop by a Salvation Army location or call a local church or non-profit organization.


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