I don’t know about you, but the return of Spring usually brings along the spring cleaning bug. But beyond the usual suspects like Craigslist, Goodwill, Salvation Army, eBay, and local recycling and trash pickup, where can you get rid of your unwanted stuff?
First, Donation Town is a great resource for connecting with local charities that will pick up donations from you. For example, I typed in my zip code and 10 different charities popped up for me to choose from. They also include some overall guidelines about acceptable donations, though every charity is different.
Earth911 is also a great resource for searching for local recycling centers. This is especially helpful when trying to get rid of hazardous materials, electronics, or other items not collected as part of the regular curbside recycling pickup.
Clothing and Accessories
While there are larger clutter offenders in my life, clothing seems to be one of the items I can part with the easiest. I usually just keep a bag for donations in my closet and take it to Goodwill once it gets full. I’ve also sold items on eBay. And while I haven’t had success selling items at a brick and morter consignment shop, I’m intrigued by thredUP. thredUP is an online consignment shop. They send you a Clean Out bag, which you mail back to them for free. After they review your clothing, you either get threadUp shopping credit or cash for the items accepted for resale. Any items not accepted for resale are then donated or sent to textile recycling companies (or mailed back to you for a fee, if you really want).
Formal Dresses, Wedding Dresses, or Bridesmaid Dresses
Depending on the time of year (i.e. homecoming or prom season) or style of dress, you might be able to donate dresses to charities such as Brides for a Cause, Brides Against Breast Cancer, or one of these many local non-profits. You can also sell your wedding dress on Once Wed,
Suits, Business Clothing
Now that our office lets us wear jeans all year-round, I’m considering donating some of my more business-y clothes to Dress for Success.
Unopened makeup can also be donated to Dress for Success, a local women’s shelter, or non-profits that facilitate the donation of formal dresses.
It’s currently past coat donation drive season, but once it gets closer to the Fall, you might consider checking out One Warm Coat or the Salvation Army’s Coats for Kids.
Running or other athletic shoes that still have a few miles in them can be donated to Soles4Souls or several other charities. If your shoes are past their prime, drop them off at a Reuse-A-Shoe recycling bin in Nike stores and outlets to be turned into athletic surfaces.
To dispose of prescription and over-the-counter drugs, call your city or county government’s household trash and recycling service and ask if a drug take-back program is available in your community. For example, I’ve seen drop off boxes at the police station and courthouse.
I’ve dropped off several boxes of old books, including textbooks, at local donation bins. Some charities will recycle books if they are not fit to pass along.
Home Building Supplies
I volunteered with Habitat for Humanity during high school. In addition to helping build a house, I volunteered at one of their ReStores. “ReStores are nonprofit home improvement stores and donation centers that sell new and gently used furniture, home accessories, building materials, and appliances to the public at a fraction of the retail price. Habitat for Humanity ReStores are proudly owned and operated by local Habitat for Humanity affiliates, and proceeds are used to build homes, community, and hope locally and around the world.”
Sensitive Documents to be Shredded
If you don’t have a shredder at home, local banks and credit unions occassionally host paper shredding drives. For example, a local credit union shredded your documents on site in exchange for a food or monetary donation to a food bank.
When we placed our refrigerator and oven, we just had the delivery guys haul it away. But if you have an extra appliance that won’t be replaced, some local utility companies will haul it away for you and gift you a rebate, to boot!
Linens (Sheets, Blankets, and Towels)
Local animal shelters will use these items as pet bedding or to line animal crates.
This could probably be a whole post in and of itself, but women’s shelters and crisis pregnancy centers can use donations of diapers (unused, obviously), clothes, toys, bottles, cribs, play mats, swings, strollers, and car seats. Also check to see if they accept unopened containers of formula or baby food.
And while it’s too late to make a donation for the 2014 tax year, it never hurts to make a dent on your 2015 tax bill by accumulating deductions for donated items to an eligible charity if you itemize deductions on your tax return.