Listening to: Madness
Reading: This fantastic article on “refurbished clothes”
Writing About: My Job, Waste Not Want Not, Turning Nothing into Something. The Bargain Box
A Very Broad Introduction:
My Business Card says “Mission Pastor”
A lot of people have told me that they want my job.
They are right to want it.
Not Easy, but awesome.
I am not going to spend a lot of time explaining what exactly I do,
Suffice to say I am in charge of all of my favorite things at the church.
Redeeming our Garbage:
Most people have a strong desire not to waste their stuff.
This is a good instinct.
Especially if it causes more careful purchasing and consuming habits.
However, that same instinct sometimes gives us an overinflated view
of what is, essentially, our garbage.
We all want to feel good in the fact that our old T-Shirts are sustaining an African child.
Or our broken laptop is being used in a school in South America.
Here, Pastor, make this thing good:
Okay, here’s the situation
You got bleach on your shirt during kitchen sanitation
It’s still good, not trash for the curb
Let’s bring it by the office of the mission pastor
I’m not Jaded, but I sometimes have a bad attitude:
Sometime around February, a giant chain store offered the church a bunch of bikes.
(Call the Mission Pastor)
The pitch was something like this:
“We have 30-40 overstock or returned bikes, could you use them?”
So I said:
“Hey Intern, book a Uhaul truck and dress to get sweaty”
My intern is a preparing to go into the foreign field,
and he’s huge,
a good fit for this job
Then the corporate chain store gave us about 100 bikes,
40ish of which were ready to ride.
60 more in various states of chaos.
So, I get frustrated.
What am I going to do with 60 broken bikes?
Not to beat a dead horse here,
But a broken bicycle is not a good tool for changing the world.
So here is where it got good:
The Bargain Box is incredible.
%90 of their staff are volunteers,
All of the merchandise they sell was given to them at no cost.
The money they make in sales gets put into mission projects all over the county and the world.
Last year they gave away around $350,000
We pulled the Uhaul up to the Bargain Box and started unloading bikes.
We separated usable and non-usable.
This is no joke:
%90 of the bicycles spent less than 10 minutes on the sales floor.
We cannibalized parts from the broken stack to make 5-10 more usable bikes
We met a scrap metal guy in the process, who took the bones of broken bikes
And recycled them for some cash.
Within an hour there were no more bikes and the Bargain Box broke their daily sales record.
Keeping in mind that a “sale” at the bargain box means money into mission.
I spent a day talking to my intern about junk, charity, redemption, entitlement, and hip hop.
I still don’t want you to drop your garbage off at my office.
But this was a good day.
Post Script: (A draft for a different post)
“Why didn’t you give away the bikes in the poor communities you work with?”
“Giving things away for free is complicated and not always productive or helpful.
especially at this scale.”