Many of the best-intended donations in times of disaster turn out to be of no use. They just bring waste and afterward brought to the landfills to cause more harm in the environment. Generally, people with loving intentions donate things that cannot be used because of oversupply and they have no idea that in fact, it can be harmful. Before we get to have a role in helping, it’s best to coordinate first with relief organizations and LGUs of what is really needed.
Some of the photos of donated clothes for the recent Taal evacuees went viral because it included high-heeled shoes, even bridal gowns and some more that are inappropriate for someone who would rather need comfy clothes and new undies. These types of donations take up space for they come in bulk and are making the centers/temporary shelters untidy and tight. There will also be no time for the volunteers to sort these out, so contributions will be left unattended to sit and rot.
We often think that because people lost everything, we must give and send everything. But a donation that is not needed is way above crazy. Some relief workers call the rush of unnecessary relief the “second disaster”, making more problems with their disposal. We must consider how to manage donation’s wastes and if trash is unavoidable what could be the best way to give and collect them out.
We may think that sending out disposable bottles of water is okay, but the same volume of water can be provided by organizations with portable water purification tanks at a lesser cost. Think of donating big reusable bottles and containers that can be refilled to avoid single-use water bottles.
The same goes for the plastic bags used to repack goods, consider giving reusable tote bags instead.
Here is a list made by Romi Garduce on what to give during relief operations:
Research First Before Giving
There are networks that can help you out on giving your donations, with a registry stating all the needed items for the relief. Here’s a list of donation call from the UP Mountaineers:
Cash Might be the Best Answer
And if you happen to not have any access to these networks consider donating cash to the relief organizations to be used to buy the specific items needed. Although it is of less personal connection to the people we are helping, apparently, cash is still the best means to deliver relief.