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Thrift shops set up for thrifty disadvantaged in Indonesia

Tunggul Wirajuda
Tunggul Wirajuda

A media practitioner for over 10 years in both TV and print.

Jakarta  /  Mon, October 28, 2019  /  01:05 pm
Thrift shops set up for thrifty disadvantaged in Indonesia

A Street Store Indonesia recipient with her items. (Street Store Indonesia/File)

People passing through Central Jakarta along Jl. Sudirman to the Hotel Indonesia traffic circle on Car Free Day every Sunday morning might have glanced at the assortment of second-hand clothes, electronic appliances, toys and other items that fill Street Store Indonesia’s pop-up booth.

The outlet attracts more than its fair share of passersby who browse and select items they fancy. Yet the outlet’s customers are not thrift shop regulars seeking vintage outfits or other items at bargain prices. Instead, they are the city’s homeless and other disadvantaged people guided there by volunteers who screen them beforehand. The procedure was designed to determine whether the disadvantaged genuinely need the items, which are then distributed in an orderly way.

“Street Store Indonesia was designed to give those in need a proper shopping experience, as doing so could instill the recipients with a sense of dignity,” said Street Store Indonesia initiator Denny Pondiu. “The sad fact about [Jakarta and other big Indonesian] cities is that not everyone can get what they need this way. After all, there are still plenty of people who go through waste to get a change of clothes for the week.”

Days beforehand, the boxes of used clothes, electronic appliances and books, as well as other items, are made ready at a collection point in the Greater Jakarta district of Pamulang, either to be distributed to the needy via Street Store Indonesia or its affiliate Outlet Dhuafa (Outlet for the Disadvantaged) in other parts of the capital.

Bags of recyclable waste are laid near the boxes. While most people would have to make an extra effort to be involved, the work is part of a normal day for Denny. He encourages the public to turn in their discarded products to the outlet, as they might come in handy for the needy.

Street Store Indonesia team sorting items.Street Store Indonesia team sorting items. (Street Store Indonesia/File)

Living in a country whose traditions of charity are offset by the lack of viable charity organizations such as the Salvation Army or charity shops, Denny was all too aware that Indonesians are often hard pressed to find outlets to donate their old or unwanted goods. He stepped into this void by offering an outlet to Jakarta citizens who wished to give away their goods.

“We use social media like Facebook or Instagram to spread awareness [about Outlet Dhuafa and Street Store Indonesia]. We also received coverage from media outlets, mostly TV,” said Denny. “Our potential donors can also choose to give to either Outlet Dhuafa or Street Store Indonesia.”

“We started out in 2014 by receiving one box of goods a month. Now we could receive an average of three boxes a day,” said Denny. “Social media like Facebook or Instagram and the media coverage in their wake have helped spread the word [about Street Store Indonesia or Outlet Dhuafa], as we now have more than 3,000 donors. These outlets not only spread public awareness of our activities, they also changed the public’s mindset [about donations].”

Denny noted that its donors gave more than 80,000 used items to more than 20,000 recipients between April 2016 to December 2017 through both Outlet Dhuafa and Street Store Indonesia. They included more than 35,000 pieces of clothing, which have yet to be inventoried.

While charity might be the cornerstone of Denny’s initiatives, it is by no means the only thing they have to offer. “[Outlet Dhuafa] taught our recipients in technical classes to help them reuse and cannibalize spare electric parts. We also taught them other vocational skills, such as English,” Denny said.

He added that both Outlet Dhuafa and Street Store Indonesia would move to more permanent accommodations at a shophouse in March. Other plans included the expansion of their operations to such parts of Indonesia as South and West Sumatra, as well as Lombok. However, regardless of where one chooses to donate one’s unwanted goods and other cast-offs, it’s not too much to say that it would do a world of good.                       

Alternate outlets to donate used goods

If you’re in the Jakarta area, Outlet Dhuafa Street Store Indonesia (Facebook: outletdhuafatssi, Instagram: @outlet_dhuafa, @thestreetstoreindonesia ) might be a great place to donate your used goods. However, it is by no means the only outlet in the capital or the rest of Indonesia where you can do so.

The following are a number of organizations in Indonesia that provide similar services for the needy, the environment and other causes. (kes)

Waste4change

Founded in 2014, Waste4change is a social company that provides sustainable, environmentally friendly waste recycling services. Waste4change is committed to a “waste-free Indonesia”, a mission it constantly pursues regardless of the odds from the country’s ongoing waste crisis.

Divers Clean Action

The Divers Clean Action has combined passions for diving and the environment to make the world under or above water cleaner. The Jakarta-based youth and community NGO has been collaborating with universities, coastal communities and others to tackle marine waste with thousands of volunteers.

Saya Pilih Bumi

Launched by the Indonesian edition of National Geographic Magazine in October 2018, the Saya Pilih Bumi (I Choose the Earth) campaign tackles Indonesia’s deepening crisis with plastic waste. The program is underpinned by the "reduce, reuse and recycle" precept, which encourages the public to sort their trash into organic waste such as food and drink, inorganic waste such as plastic and Styrofoam packages and toxic waste such as batteries or perfume bottles.

  • Facebook: SAYA PILIH BUMI
  • Instagram: @sayapilihbumi

Rubah Kertas

What is old is new again with Rubah Kertas (Paper Fox), handmade paper manufacturers that have been making their products from recycled paper since September 2018. Rubah Kertas gives paper a new lease on life by making it into greeting or business cards, as well as envelopes. While this outfit is still taking its first steps, it is quickly making waves among the environmentally conscious and artistic buffs alike. 

  • Facebook: rubahkertasofficial
  • Instagram: @rubahkertas

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the official stance of The Jakarta Post.