‘Tis the season to de-clutter and donate. No matter what time of year it is, a good thorough housecleaning lifts the spirit and lightens a dull mood. Double the good feeling by donating items gently used or no longer wanted. Learn how to safely get rid of old medicines. Properly dispose of old paint taking space in the storeroom. Check out the suggestions below for great places to donate eyeglasses, shoes and many other needed goods.
Where to Donate Household Goods and Belongings
There are plenty of places to donate gently used house items and personal belongings. Re-using something rather than throwing it away is just one of the many great ways to go green. Donations may be tax-deductible so be sure to get receipts and put them in a safe place.
Where to donate books, videos, DVDs:
- Public library
- School library
- Nursing home
- Adult or children’s daycare facility
- Children’s home or shelter
A used bookstore may pay cash or give store credit for books in good condition. Check out the website Books for Soldiers to get information on how to send books and DVDs to men and women in the military. Boxes are free from the U.S. Post Office and shipping is a flat rate.
Agencies that Benefit from Donated Goods
Thrift stores accept almost anything donated. If there’s a public housing program in the area, there may be a resource office that collects all kinds of useful items – things like tools, sports equipment and computers. Donate to:
- Homeless shelters
- Domestic violence shelters
- Churches that collect for the needy, especially Catholic Charities
- Thrift stores, the Salvation Army and Goodwill
- Children’s Home Society or other children’s homes
- Red Cross and other disaster relief agencies
- Habitat for Humanity collection center
Some agencies accept working electronics. Send used cell phones that can be recycled to Shelter Alliance. The agency earns up to $30 to benefit domestic violence shelters. Heritage for the Blind accepts vehicle, boat and RV donations. Check their website or call 1-800-Donate-Cars.
Backpacks gently used and unopened school supplies can go to shelters, a children’s home or public housing resource center. If autumn is near, then see if your community participates in Cram-the-Van or a similar program that collects school items for children in need.
- Re-gifting items is another way to de-clutter a home space. Wrap up and pass along figurines, flower vases, jewelry, wall hangings and items in excellent condition.
- Bring old glasses to Lenscrafters or Pearle Vision where they will be donated to Onesight, which recycles them for the needy.
- Too many shoes cluttering the closet? Soles4souls will take them.
- A soup kitchen is a great place to donate dishes, drinking glasses, cups, and silverware. The staff might also appreciate kitchen appliances.
Clean Out the Medicine Cabinet
Medications are hazardous waste and require proper disposal. Tossed into the trash, medications can eventually make their way into the soil, contaminating the environment. Flushing medicines down the toilet may pollute the local water filtration system with chemicals that could end up in the community water supply. What’s the best way to discard old and expired medications?
- Bring the drugs to a pharmacy that disposes of unwanted medicines.
- A number of states in the U.S. have started programs that recycle old and expired drugs for the poor and uninsured in America. Contact a pharmacist or doctor to see what the law allows in your state.
- Some communities have hazardous waste disposal programs that will also accept medicines.
What’s the Best Way to Dispose of Paint and Hazardous Home Chemicals?
Properly dispose of old paint, insecticides, and other harmful materials at a hazardous waste facility. Some towns have amnesty days where residents can go to a nearby designated location and unload used motor oil, paint, and other products hazardous to the environment. Is paint really that harmful? Yes.
The website lowes.com offers detailed disposal information in the article by C. Jeanne Heida, “Safe Paint Disposal: How to Get Rid of Old Paint”. Heida writes, “The metal in the pigments and the petroleum based solvents are what make paint so harmful to the environment. Latex and oil based paint can harm wildlife and pollute food sources if dumped onto the ground or into a storm drain.”
Pouring paint down the toilet or sink is not an option. Paint can cause problems for the local sewage treatment plants where water is filtered. It can damage microbes in septic systems. Why not just throw the cans in the trash? Heida gives two good reasons: “… the solvent in oil paint is highly flammable and can be toxic if inhaled.”
De-cluttering a home is a great weekend project. Donating items no longer used and giving them to others is a fantastic way to teach children about the joy of sharing. Want to make an even bigger difference for others? Spread the word: Pass along to friends, neighbors and co-workers the list of sources and agencies that take donated items.