What to do with unwanted charity collection bags

In a recent newsletter, Mary asked “What can I do about the collection bags that people slip through my letter box?

I have put up signs to ask them NOT to leave them, but to no avail.

I have saved a stack of them – some I give back to the bigger charities, but other ones are not associated with the charity shops on the high street.”

As ever, our wonderful community of people came to the rescue. And there was a surprising similar theme among the answers!

Liz wrote “I literally put them in the bin.

Our local council provides us with bin bags but they are not very thick.  I put this into my swing bin and then put the charity bag inside that.  Any unrecyclable kitchen rubbish then goes in the charity bag.

When it comes to bin day I tie up the charity bag and then the rest of the house rubbish then goes on top of that and then the council bag is closed.

This way nothing seeps from the charity bag into the swing bin and the local cats are not going to tear into the bag to get any leftover waste out.”

Viviane is fed up with receiving charity collection bags too. She said “I use them to hold all the non-recyclable household waste (which isn’t much – usually half a small council bin per fortnight) and so keep the bin clean and fairly odourless. But the bags come in faster than I can use them! I know neighbours who put the charity bags out in hopes of them being collected for future use, but it never happens.  Is there no way we can indicate that we do not want them?”

Jenny admits “I use charity collection bags as bin liners. They are stronger than they look and I haven’t bought a roll of bin liners for years.”

Suella says “I take almost all delivered bags to my nearest Charity shop in the village, but do save some. As they are free I have no compunction to not reuse them for whatever I need a big bag for.”

Helen suggests our actions might bring about change. She writes “I use them as bin liners. Doesn’t use them up quick enough but saves me some money. I think I will try taking the ones I can back to their owners, as Mary does. Maybe if more people did that with a little letter of ‘complaint’ the charities would change their ways?!”

Over on Twitter, Richard shared

Linda has recently been ironing for her daughter who is not well. She writes “The Charity bags make excellent plastic covering for ironed and folded laundry!”

Posted in

Rachelle Strauss


  1. Ilovecats on December 23, 2014 at 9:35 am

    I know you’ll laugh but with my last batch I tried to crotchet them into a yarn to use. It wasn’t that successful but I’m determined to beat it!

    • Rachelle Strauss on January 8, 2015 at 10:02 am

      Sounds like you’re really creative! I saw a tutorial yesterday for making bakers twine from old t-shirts; it looked fab!

  2. matty on January 6, 2015 at 8:34 am

    I just use them to take stuff back to the charity shops – I love getting them in the post because I get the bags for free and can reuse them for something good! Bring them on! 😀

    • Rachelle Strauss on January 8, 2015 at 10:00 am

      Great idea on the reuse; that’s basically what I do too.

  3. Recyclingme on January 8, 2015 at 9:56 am

    I take mine to the charity shop with me for them to use. They always seem quite grateful so I’m guessing I’m doing something right!

    • Rachelle Strauss on January 8, 2015 at 9:59 am

      Sounds like a good plan to me; if they’re grateful then all the better 🙂

  4. Philippa on February 10, 2015 at 6:15 pm

    I turn them inside out and use them for whatever I want – which is often taking stuff to my chosen charity shop having filled them in my own time rather than having a deadline hanging over me (although I can see that a deadline might help some to declutter). Look up the charity on the Charity Commission website to check it is listed !

    • Rachelle Strauss on February 18, 2015 at 2:05 pm

      Yep, I work well to a deadline! But I know for some it’s better to work with pressure off. Thanks for the tip about the Charity Commission website!

  5. M Rothwell on February 25, 2016 at 9:58 am

    I get nearly a hundred of these bags every year. They are all non-recyclable. Assuming this happens at millions of homes throughout the UK, the charities are littering the environment with hundreds of millions of very large, unrecyclable bags every year. None of the charities ever takes back empty bags if they are left out.
    Age Concern have now left a printed note with their latest bag delivery in an attempt to justify what they are doing. They say they will be delivering another bag in 6 to 8 weeks time – bad enough in itself, but there are another 20 charities here who do the same. Surely each charity should be limited to 1 bag delivery per area per year, the bags must be recyclable, & the charity must take back empty bags. Legislation is needed to stop this madness, just as it was for the shopping bags lunacy.

    • zerowasteweek on February 25, 2016 at 10:00 am

      It sounds like you’re inundated. Fortunately I don’t get too many here. I live in a rural area and it’s probably harder to deliver to. I agree some legislation is needed. In addition, I think it makes people feel LESS charitable when they get this assault on their mailboxes all the time!

    • Joan Richardson on May 3, 2017 at 12:04 pm

      I agree with you 100%. Just wish we could at least get them biodegradable!

    • Keith Johnson on May 21, 2018 at 3:53 pm

      Surely each charity should be limited to 1 bag delivery per area per year, the bags must be recyclable, & the charity must take back empty bags. Legislation is needed to stop this madness, just as it was for the shopping bags lunacy.

      I agree with you M Rothwell. I am getting really annoyed about the number of bags we receive. This morning I received a package that was 9 outer bags stuffed inside another outer bag – with no useful larger bag at all. I guess the deliverer gets paid by the number of outer bags they deliver!!

      The gov’t brought in a charge for Supermarket plastic bags – Now the Charity bags are as bad. Yes they can be useful and yes you could just send them back but the number used is getting rediculous. They should certainly be restricted in some way.

  6. J. Kiff on August 31, 2016 at 8:32 am

    I have only just seen this, after googling,mhaving been interrupted at 7.30 am by another bag, despite the huge notice on my front door (they clearly can’t read). It sets my dogs off barking hysterically, hence the notice, which they ignore. Enough is enough. They leave the bags. I have dogs. They want a donation. They will get one a la Sharon Osborne! Enough said.

  7. Trephena March on February 22, 2017 at 4:59 pm

    The problem is that people are paid to deliver the bags so they ignore the notes otherwise they wouldn’t get paid even the measlie amount they currently get.

    I refuse to give money to charities who dump bags on me – if they can afford to waste such huge amounts of money on these and have no concern about the environment then they don’t deserve my hard earned cash. If more people protested about this practice and ‘voted with their feet’ and boycotted them, then they would sit up and take notice… and go round and collect the unused bags.

  8. Mark Sherwen on November 14, 2017 at 9:58 am

    I once had a box of 500 shoved in a hedge that the distributors had abandoned. I contacted the charity but they were not collected so the next time I got a bag from them I put the box and left it on the corner of the road, they were then collected. You could always look up the charities address on the charity commission website and send it back without a stamp, it might make them think about the number they are distributing.

    • Rachelle Strauss on November 14, 2017 at 12:16 pm

      Hi Mark, it’s really sad to hear that you found the box of bags shoved in a hedge. Your idea to ‘return to sender’ is good. I do that with other junkmail, so I’m not sure why I hadn’t considered it for charity bags. Having said that, for the past year or so I don’t think I’ve had a single unwanted bag through the door!

  9. mark on April 25, 2018 at 11:17 am

    i don’t have a problem with donating to charity but it do have a PROBLEM with charity bags being posted through my door ‘day in day out’ ! i have an A4 ‘NO COLD CALLING’ notice in my window and that can be read from the street. the notice includes NO food menu’s. NO religious groups. NO charity bags. NO junk mail. to make sure they get the point i have a notice on the letter box and thats says NO FOOD MENU’S. NO CHARITY BAGS. NO RELIGIOUS GROUPS. But i am still getting the bags put through my letter box and i have had enough!! i have contacted the charitys to say I DO NOT WANT ANYMORE BAGS FROM THEM and i have a notice to say this as well, i go on to tell them if they DONT respect my wishes then i will sue them! these charity bags that come through the door are NOT for ‘local’ charitys like it says on the bags…

  10. Jeni Bern on April 28, 2018 at 8:47 am

    I’m going to try an idea I found on Pinterest. Save up the bags and the iron them all together at a high heat so they fuse into a thicker sheet of plastic. You can the use this to remake and sew into reusable carrier or tote bags. I’ve tried it before with the cheap plastic shopping bags I had collected over the years. I use it as waterproof lining in tote bags i make from old fabric scraps. No quite zero waste but reusable and at least they’re free…..

  11. GSTAR on June 21, 2018 at 4:22 pm

    Who drove their car today? who used detergents to wash their clothes this week and how many washes? who like their clothing shopping instead of using their existing garment or buying perfectly reusable second-hand clothes? who’s buying carrier bags instead of re-using the same old one, etc…. So don’t complain about plastic bags while you are polluting the environment one way or another… Unfortunately bio degradable bags and degradable bags aren’t “green” enough yet either… they only break down into smaller plastic fragments which are equally as harmful, or they only deteriorate under specific conditions…. the problem is not plastic, it is people. We need to be disciplined/educated/conditioned to the way we dispose of things for recycling or reuse, we need to treat our planet the same way we’d treat our own homes, keeping it tidy and clean.

    • Patricia Graham on May 26, 2022 at 6:58 pm

      I do agree with all you say and I try very hard to care for the environment. I use eco detergent, wash powder and cleaning products, all cruelty free. I do not have a dish washer, nor a tumble drier. I do have a car and if I could afford a new car and drive electric I would, although I probably won’t be driving too much longer because of my age. Public transport is nearly non existent in my area and there are no trains or busses on a Sunday. I walk when I can manage the distance. We do need more education (and I don’t mean just for school children, but all ages) concerning recycling. Recycling by the local Council is pretty limited in my area. We are supplied with a green bin for general waste, a blue bin for recycling but not for plastic waste and a brown bin for garden waste (we have to pay for this). I’ve found a private house that recycles crisp packets, but I have to drive there. I deposit batteries at the local supermarket. I have to drive to a recycling unit if I need to dispose of paint. I’m for more recycling but at times it is very difficult.

  12. Dorothy on March 2, 2019 at 5:34 pm

    Too many of these so called ‘charity’ bags are not for charity at all! They are for unscrupulous profiteers who get something like £800 a tonne. Sadly the crooks have jumped on an easy way to make money taking much needed funds from those who really need it! It makes me furious!!!

  13. Gwyneth Poole on July 16, 2019 at 1:39 pm

    I don’t like receiving these bags. I feel a little guilty if I throw the away but I have little use for them. What a waste of charities money which is given for good causes not to add to the plastic waste. If we all complained and refused to fund charities who give out bags but don’t collect them again they would have to stop giving them out. If left outside a house they are ripe picking for unscrupulous people. Most people can get to a charity shop and I suggest that this is what we all could do. If bags are not filled they may stop delivering them. Well done to all those who find imaginative ways to use them. I am about to use mine for bedding while camping.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.