This time of year, many of us want to make a fresh start. And, like the saying goes, one person’s trash is another person’s treasure. Here are some suggestions on how to put your clutter to good use.
Keep it local
The nonprofit organization Freecycle has affiliate groups to join for free around the world. When a member of a group is tossing something out, they’ll let the others know and anyone who wants it can pick it up—and there’s no cost.
Thanks to the EPA’s Electronics Challenge, retailers like Best Buy, Dell, Staples, Sony and others now collect used electronics so that the metals, plastics and glass can be recycled. Some cell phone providers also take back, refurbish and resell used devices.
Be gracious with groceries
If you’re moving and you’ve got a cabinet of groceries you can’t take with you—or you just want to clear out some cupboard space—you’ve got options. Of course, food banks will accept unopened, non-perishable items, as will many churches.
Back to school
Schools may want to receive used computers. High school drama departments, for example, might be interested in clothing for costumes or furniture for sets. Call the administration office to find out.
Help launch a career
In addition to schools, non-profit organizations like Dress for Success are excellent places to donate clothing. They provide professional attire to low-income individuals.
Hit the books
Used bookstores often pay surprisingly well for books—not to mention DVD’s, CD’s and sometimes even vinyl records. You can also donate them to your local library.
Scrap the soap
If your best friend gave you a basket of bath goodies this year—that you’ll never use—donate them (unopened) to a homeless or women’s shelter. Call ahead and ask what items they’ll accept.
Earn a buck
Why contribute to landfills when someone would happily pay to take your old stuff off your hands? Thrift stores are excellent options. Consignment stores may offer you more money for your items, though not until they actually sell. Or go online—put your items up for sale on Craig’s List, Ebay or Etsy.
Make a home
One of the most recognizable national charities, Habitat for Humanity accepts donations of furniture, appliances and other household goods. Call your local affiliate for details.
If it’s more than five years old, it’ll be difficult for a school or charity to make use of it. But many organizations might be interested in more recent models. Before donating, remove any sensitive data. Make sure it’s wiped off the hard drive, not just deleted from the recycling bin.
When donating to organizations like Dress for Success, choose items that aren’t outdated. Even if it hasn’t been worn lately, check the pockets and wash your items. If you have the time, group similar pieces together and label them.
If you have kids, you probably also have a lot of toys that they have outgrown. Instead of letting them sit around collecting dust, donate them to a local preschool or camp.