We all have bits and bobs floating around the house — most are things that go unused because a. we have no need for it b. we have too many of the item c. we don’t like/use it anymore but hold on to it because we don’t want to throw our hard earned money in to the trash. While some of these items may end up in the landfill, most can be donated somewhere it will be given a second life. Yes — your local Goodwill or Salvation Army will take a large chunk of your donations. However, recently I’ve been working on “spreading out” my donations to other organizations that might only collect very specific items. I feel that donating this way allows my donations to go where they might be utilized faster, instead of wasting away on a dusty Goodwill shelf.
Clothing and Shoes
Good options for donating clothing (besides Goodwill) are local shelters and Dress for Success. For shoes (that are still wearable), I like donating to Zappos’ Soles 4 Souls (they also take clothing). Zappos will provide you with a pre-paid shipping label — just attach it to a box, fill with shoes, and send away! If your athletic shoes are beyond repair, donate to Nike Reuse-a-Shoe — just drop your shoes off at one of their stores and it will be recycled in to Nike Grind material (to make athletic surfaces).
Unused or Gently Used Beauty Products
This is definitely where I am guilty. I love beauty products/skincare — and will frequently move on to a new product before finishing up the old one. Or trying samples, not loving it, and still keeping it around (I’m working on it!). Recently, I found Project Beauty Share in Spokane, WA. They are one of the few places I have found that take not only new but gently used beauty products (that can be sanitized). And you can ship to them! The products go to “women and families overcoming abuse, addiction, homelessness and poverty.” I packed up a small box with products and shipped it to them for just a few bucks. Definitely worth it. If you have completely unused products, your local womens’ shelters usually take these items as well.
* Fancy, barely used beauty products can also be sold on Poshmark.
New or Gently Used Pet Supplies
Take these to your local animal shelter!
Again — the local animal shelter!
Arts and Crafts Supplies
I usually never donate these supplies to Goodwill because I don’t think too many people are going there in search of a half used tube of acrylic paint or a sad spool of yarn. Instead, search for local organizations that take old art supplies (or even ask any teacher friends if their school is in need of any of these items). In North Texas, I found Scrap Denton and a preliminary search in Houston led me to the Texas Art Asylum (they really seem to take EVERYTHING!). I’m sure most major cities have some place to donate all the random craft and hobby supplies people tend to accumulate over the years.
Pens + Other Writing Utensils
We all have that random stash of pens collected from hotels, company events, the dentist, etc. (We really need to stop accepting these things that will ultimately end up sitting at the bottom of a drawer.) I send all my extra/old/broken pens, markers, crayons, etc. to Pen Guy Art and only keep a small handful of writing utensils that I like and use. This only cost me a few bucks and I know the pens will be used in a unique way.
Old Magazines, Books, DVDs
Try your local library before resorting to Goodwill.
* I don’t buy many books these days as I tend to get everything from the library. However, when we paired down our book collection, most were sold to our local Half Price Books.
Donate to the Lions Recycle for Sight program. I have also seen drop off boxes for old eyewear at local eyewear stores.
Unused Canned and Boxed Foods
Your local food pantry. One that I volunteered at took items that were expired up to 1 year (depending on the type of item). Check with your local pantry for their guidelines.
Home Goods and Tchotchkes
I haven’t found a great place to donate these besides Goodwill. Freecycle is another option to give away miscellaneous items to people in your own community. I’ve seen the most random items on here and they generally get claimed really quickly. (I once donated old candle wax that I was about to toss to a father whose daughters were working on some project that needed wax. Random but I’m glad the wax went to a good home instead of the landfill.) Give it a try if you are at a loss for where to donate an item.
What are some other items you have trouble donating? Have you found any other resources to donate the random items in your life?