What do you do with those unwanted items when you are cleaning and organizing or getting ready to move?
If you are stuck in the house due to the weather or getting ready to sell this spring, it is probably a good time to start going through the house and deciding what you no longer need or want. Not only will this make moving easier when the time comes, but doing this on a regular basis prevents the house from being cluttered. Studies have shown that living in a cluttered environment causes stress. As we all know, stress leads to other physical illnesses so living in an uncluttered home is good for your physical and mental well being.
Now you have made the commitment to start cleaning out or decluttering your home, and the next problem arises. What do you do with the things you no longer want to keep? No one wants to throw out their belongings. First of all, it is always nice to know that someone else can get use out of something that was yours. Second of all, we are all aware of the growing problem of the lack of space in our landfills. It is no secret that we can not continue to just throw things away, because that does not make them disappear. They end up in a landfill that just grows and grows and we are running out of room.
So how do we dispose of things in an Earth friendly way. It definitely takes a little more organizing, some research and maybe some extra leg work, but it is well worth it. These are some guidelines and suggestions, but you will have to see what works in your area. Always call ahead before bringing any donations.
In most areas that extra paper you have collected can be recycled. Make sure that you do not wrap any of it in plastic bags, because that contaminates the paper. Magazines and newspaper can be tied together. Most grocery stores still have brown paper bags if you need to bag your paper or your shredding. Call your town to be sure of their requirements.
Books- Most books can be donated; the exception is out of date text books or encyclopedias. Call your local library and ask them if they take book donations. Hospital often accept children’s books for their patients and senior centers or assisted livings usually have a lending library. All books must be without pages that are torn or written on and not show signs of excessive use. Usually the libraries want the paper jacket covers for hard cover books.
Clothing – Clothing that is donated should be in clean wearable condition. This means no holes, no stains and no underwear. Charity thrift stores almost always take clothes. You could also contact your local school and see if they have a program for families in need.
Craft supplies – Depending upon what supplies you have there are various options. Schools take these items for art classes. Senior centers, children’s hospitals, preschools, women’s shelters and scout groups take them for art crafts or for knitting groups. Some organizations have local groups that knit or crochet for charity. These would be listed in a local newspaper. A few phone calls should help you find a new home for these items.
Electronics – Most electronics can be recycled. More than anything else this item should never be thrown away to end up in a landfill. Big box stores that sell these items usually have a recycling program with the accepted items listed on the website. You will be surprised at the variety of items that are accepted. If they are up to date and in working condition, they can be donated to a local thrift store for sale. Working telephones can often be donated to become emergency phones. There are programs that donate them for soldiers and others for domestic abuse victims. Sometimes a local women’s shelter will take them directly. Sadly, old DVD’s seem to be the one thing it is very difficult to keep out of the landfill. You can check if anyone in your area will take them or recycle them, but do not be disappointed if you need to throw them away.
Furniture – This might be the hardest item to donate. The size of the item, the age of the item, the material it is made from and the condition all dictate its future. Pianos are almost impossible to donate, if you are not willing to have someone come to your house to take it who needs it from a free site. It is possible to contact a local music school or teacher and see if they have a student in need. Small items of furniture can be donated to a local charity thrift store. Larger thrift stores do pick-ups, but are selective about what they take. The best idea is to send them pictures and be sure they want your items. This way you will not be taken by surprise when they arrive. Large furniture is not practical for people in small living spaces and some pieces like TV cabinets are no longer practical. Like everything else it must be in good condition, without stains, major damage and real signs of wear.
Knick-knacks – Many of the items that we have collected do not have the value that they once did. Do some research to be sure your collectible is not worth a lot of money before deciding to put it with the knick-knacks. This type of item is best donated to a charity thrift store, where it can be sold and find a new life in someone else’s house. These items also must be complete with no chips, cracks damage or repairs.
Linens and blankets – These follow the same rules as clothing and clothing and can be donated to the same places. Additionally, animal shelters and some veterinarians will take linens for the animals. Check with them and ask what condition the items must be in.
Toys and Games – To be able to donate toys and games, they must be complete with no broken or missing parts. Depending on the age of the child the toy is intended for there are various options. Hospitals sometimes have game rooms and will take them. A local preschool or daycare might have use for age appropriate items. Charity thrift stores usually have a need for these items as they sell quickly.
Two things that you should always remember. First, do not donate anything that is unwearable or unusable. If it is truly trash you must throw it away. If you donate these unusable items, the charity is forced to dispose of them, and the associated cost leaves less money for the intended use. Second, before donating to any charity, it is always a good idea to do a little online research and find out what they do with your items and how much of the items or money raised from selling them actually goes to the recipient.
And last, if you are moving and you are not able to take the unexpired food or paper goods that you have left, do not forget to pack them up and donate them to a local food pantry.
Good luck re-purposing your possessions. If you need help please visit our website and contact us at Donotthrowitaway.com. We are always available to help and no job is too big or too small.