The Where to Donate Guide
Last Updated: January 2023
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 or recycling facility, 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 at the DSW drop off boxes (ideal since you don’t have to ship it) or 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 you wear a lot of Nike athletic gear and shoes, you can recycle those items at Nike stores. Old bras can be donated here or here.
* However, if an item is pricier, mostly new/has a lot of life left in it — I will try to sell it on Poshmark, ThredUp, Mercari, or ebay.
Unused or Gently Used Beauty Products
I’ve definitely gotten better about only buying what I need and restocking products only as needed. However, sometimes, products just don’t work out. 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 women’s shelters usually take these items as well.
* Barely used (generally “fancier”) beauty products can also be sold on Poshmark or Mercari (I usually buy/sell nail polish here!).
New or Gently Used Pet Supplies
Take these to your local animal shelter or a local vet office.
Again — the local animal shelter or local vet office.
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). I’ve had excellent luck rehoming these items (usually within 24 hours) with Freecycle. Also, our yearly Texas Recycles Day event has historically taken some odd items (like yarn/knitting supplies and homecoming mum supplies!).
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 these to Lions Club International. I have also seen drop off boxes for old eyewear at local eyewear stores (including inside Walmart).
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?
For those in the NYC area, home goods can be donated to Housing Works thrift stores, which are the money-raising arm of a non-profit that fights homelessness and the AIDS crisis. They?ll even schedule a free furniture pick-up for items in good condition!
Thanks for collecting this list. I will always take the extra time and effort to donate to a place that will actually reuse them.
Yes! It?s so important to do.