A frustrated Okotokian recently took to a local discussion group on Facebook to air their grievances over the Diabetes Canada clothing bins in town.

Attached to the post were images of the bins surrounded by various household items that had been dumped there.

It's not the first time the issue has been raised in Okotoks, and unfortunately, it's not an issue that's limited to Okotoks.

The National Diabetes Trust (NBT) has about 5,000 bins across Canada labelled with images of items, mostly clothing, that can be donated.

President and CEO of the NBT, Sean Shannon, says they're intended to fund programs for the organization.

"We're the social enterprise arm for Diabetes Canada, and our mission is to solicit and collect clothing, other household soft goods, and small miscellaneous household items, from Canadians coast to coast, and we gather them up and deliver them to retail partners who, in turn, sell them in their thrift stores. All bottom line proceeds, so the net profits in the business that we can generate go 100 per cent to Diabetes Canada as part of their fundraising for research to improve the lives of people living with diabetes, or help send kids with type 1 diabetes to diabetes camps and all sorts of great programs."

Unfortunately, people often dump their unwanted items outside the bins, with items like mattresses or broken appliances being a common sight at these bins.

Shannon says there are definitely some people who are merely misinformed, but at the same time, there are definitely bad actors and opportunists.

"There are misinformed people who will say they didn't realize, and we've had people say 'Well, the bin was full so I left it outside.' That's well-intentioned and that's just a case where the bins can fill up quickly. That's mostly not what we're talking about here, we've literally had people who have left beds, mattresses, large furniture. I remember one, somebody left a boat. Thought that was a good way to dispose of it."

Unfortunately, when it comes to disposing of these unwanted items, the financial burden to remove them often falls on Diabetes Canada or local groups who they partner with. In the case of the Foothills area, Foothills Advocacy in Motion handles the donation bin pickups.

"In some cases, the municipality will waive the dumping fee because they know who we are and what we're doing. In other cases, they say 'Sorry, if you've got garbage it's going to cost you.' On an annual basis, you'd be shocked and disappointed to learn how much we have to pay to garbage sites just to dump inappropriate donations," says Shannon.

It's a multi-faceted issue, says Shannon, with a few contributing factors. 

One is the fact that people are more likely to dump their garbage if they see that someone else has already.

"There's something with human behaviour, when people see a mess they think it's okay to make a further mess. With Diabetes Canada, we're very diligent. Every time we're doing pickups we make sure the place is left clean and respectable. In almost all cases we have those bins on either a private host's property like a shopping centre or a municipal property like a local hockey rink. So, obviously they don't want to see the mess and we don't want to see the mess."

For those who do intend to make a donation but can't due to the bins already being full, there are a few options.

That includes a map of the bin locations on Diabetes Canada's website.

They also do pickups in certain communities.

Shannon says there's not much that can be done to directly address the situation aside from advocacy campaigns.

He says they very much appreciate people who speak out against people abusing the bins on social media, as well as anybody who speaks up in person, though he doesn't want anyone putting themselves in danger.

"If somebody came up and was clearly abusive, I wouldn't advocate for anybody to get involved directly that way. Maybe there's a little way of saying to somebody 'Hey, that's not appropriate.' That said, sometimes these bad actors can be bad people. It's hard to have that sort of advocacy campaign where we're asking everybody on our behalf to step in on things like this, it's a touchy situation."