Southern Brooklyn

Illegal Clothing Bins Popping Up In Sheepshead Bay And Manhattan Beach



Clothing donation bins are nothing new to the area, although the handful of organizations behind them place them with varying degrees of legality.

One company in particular appears to have thrown caution to the wind, with several placements around Southern Brooklyn that are blatantly illegal. These bins may not be placed on public property, as it is in the photo above, but we’ve seen these pink boxes from Narciso Recycling Company doing just that from here to Bensonhurst.

And it’s not just us. The Manhattan Beach Community Group took notice, too, sending the following note to their members:

In case you haven’t noticed there are a growing number of pink clothing boxes being place in and around Manhattan Beach, Sheepshead Bay and elsewhere. These boxes are illegal, the owners, we are told, take the clothing and sell it!

The Department of Sanitation will remove the boxes. All you have to do is call 311 and report the location of a box you see.

MBCG President Judy Baron told Sheepshead Bites that the bins have been spotted on Shore Boulevard, at a construction site near Girard Street. The one above is on Ocean Avenue and Shore Parkway.

The New York Times looked into these bins earlier this month and found that they were not only illegal, but have become a burden to taxpayers.

A growing number of companies — many of them based in New Jersey — are illegally placing used-clothing bins throughout New York City, blocking sidewalks and serving as magnets for litter and graffiti. The receptacles typically have signs that indicate donated goods will go to the poor or, in some cases, to legitimate charities. But, city officials said, the needy do not benefit from much of what is collected. Instead, the clothing is often sold in thrift stores or in bulk overseas, with the proceeds going to for-profit entities that can be impossible to trace, or even to contact.

“They have become the bane of our existence,” Kathryn Garcia, the city’s sanitation commissioner, said. “We have seen a significant uptick in the number of clothing bins placed illegally on public sidewalks. A dramatic increase.”

City law bans such bins from being placed on sidewalks and streets; they are legal on private property with the consent of the owner.

We do want to note that not all companies place their bins illegally. As the excerpt above notes, if it’s placed on private property, it’s okay – although it’s up to donors to determine if their clothing will go to a good cause.

City Councilman Vincent Gentile introduced legislation earlier this month that could expedite their removal, and see the companies fined for placing it on public land.

Comment policy


  1. Call your local Community Board and they will have the box tagged just like they took care of the box on Shore Blvd.

  2. We went through this before and the Community Board took care of this situation.
    Every now and then this goes on around our community. They are faster then if you would call 311.

  3. I’ve loved that they’re all around because it made it easy for me to put my bags of clothes in that I’ve been holding on to, but now that I know that they’re illegal, I won’t. Can anyone let us know which ones are legal?

  4. We need a law that will ban the placement of receptacles by for profit organizations unless they clearly state on the box that they are placed by charities. Some for-profit companies already do. Those who break this law should be prosecuted for fraud.

  5. Some just have stickers that look cute and provide no information about who placed them there. Others will provide contact information, it might b worth doing a check to see whether the information is even correct.

  6. There are a bunch of them at Home Depot near Kings Plaza. They appear to be legal because they are on private property.

  7. But what happens to these illegal boxes after they’re removed by the City? Are they destroyed as contraband, repurposed in some way, or sold to authorized recyclers to amortize the imposed fines, or are they simply returned to the offenders once the fines are paid? Perhaps we need legislation addressing the removal process, as well as regulations registering both the boxes and the entities that place them so that public policy can swiftly deal with the problem without protracted litigation or cumbersome administrative remedies. As for proprietary, or even charitable, boxes placed on private property, if these are deemed an eyesore, or are out of character with the surrounding neighborhood, then the matter shoul# be remedied by zoning laws or a permit or variance process as is done with commercial signage or out-of-code structures.

  8. Source:

    Given that bin owners are given 30 days to remove tagged bins, there’s no wonder why less than 10% of tagged bins are confiscated by the city (132 out of 2006 in fiscal year 2014). “City officials said that although owners have 30 days to haul away tagged bins, they often simply move the receptacles a block away and
    start the clock ticking all over again.”

    The only way to stop their proliferation: do not donate to illegal bins (a small Red Cross, Salvation Army or medical charity sticker doesn’t make a bin legit) and for the city to confiscated bins faster to make them financially unsustainable.

    Remember, most people who operate these bins for profit are deliberately deceiving you and are no better than people who steal donations, political contributions or public fund for personal gain (you’re read enough of those stories here). I’d rather trash my clothes than giving them money.

    Um, since the city is slow to act as usual, maybe we citizens should take these bins off public space ourselves as they are abandoned property, recycle them for scrap metal and donate the proceeds and clothing inside to legitimate charities. Just make sure the owner of the bin isn’t around or those criminals will sure run you over 😉

  9. The one on Avenue P is legal and was placed there by a community organization. It is a shame some people are slobs. It is a good deed- a mitzvah-to give.


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