As you’re decluttering your house, a lot of us default to “oh, I’ll take it to Goodwill.” But honestly, Goodwill is not the best option for a lot of your stuff. Because Goodwill doesn’t want a lot of your stuff. Goodwill can’t resell your old t-shirt with the stains on it just because it has sentimental value to you.
In 2020, Goodwills in Vermont, Maine and New Hampshire alone threw away 13 million pounds of donations that they received because they could not resell it. Lucky for us, I did the research on where we can take certain items that are in good condition to make sure that they actually get used and they’re not going to end up in the trash.
A huge part of reducing waste is making sure that the items that we have in our lives go to the right people, or the right organizations that will actually use them. I know that for example, I don’t know how to do woodwork. So if a carpenter was like, “Hey, here’s a really nice saw and like really beautiful wood,” I’d be like, “Cool, I can’t use this.” This is just going to be clutter in my house, or I’m going to toss it. I’m not a good donation spot for woodworking materials. But bringing woodworking materials to an organization that builds houses. That’s a good spot for it.
The best way to stop decluttering is to buy less
And really quickly before we dive into my list, I just want to remind everyone that the best way to not have to constantly be decluttering is to simply try and bring less stuff into your life and into your home. Curbing our shopping habits is the number one way that we can be more environmentally friendly, and how we can escape this constant cycle of declutter, re-clutter, declutter. There’s more to life than constantly organizing the houses that we live in.
Where to donate furniture
Okay, let’s get into where you can take your good condition items after we declutter. The first is furniture. If you’re looking to make a little bit of money off of your furniture, you can always try to sell it on Facebook marketplace or Craigslist. But if you want to donate it, you can look for programs like Restore by Habitat for Humanity, local domestic violence shelters, or regional programs like Green Drop, or Pickup Please.
Where to donate clothing
Number two clothing: so like I mentioned earlier, try and avoid just dropping all your clothes off at Goodwill, because I guarantee a lot of that is not going to get sold. And you’re just making Goodwill be the one to throw it out instead of you. Instead, take any professional clothing to a local homeless shelter or a domestic violence shelter. A lot of people who are experiencing homelessness or who have had to leave their homes abruptly because they’re unsafe need professional clothing because they’re trying to land a job. They’re going out on interviews, and they don’t have anything nice like a button down or a cute pencil skirt. So your old pencil skirt can help these people in a time of their life where they really need it. Look for national organizations like Dress for Success, Free the Girls and One Warm Coat.
But what do we do about the clothes that aren’t in very good shape? You can take clothes like that to something like Planet Aid, which has 19,000 drop off bins across the United States. And what they do is they take your kind of medium quality clothes, they either resell it or they help break it down more sustainably.
Where to donate shoes
Number three: shoes. If you’ve got old sneakers that you’ve had for like 10 years and they’re not in good shape anymore, they can be recycled, so you want to take them to a store that has a recycling program. When I moved out of Austin, Texas, I took three pairs of old sneakers to Fleet Feet Austin and dropped them off for their recycling program. Simply Google “shoes recycling program, Austin” or wherever you live, find a place and drop those shoes off.
Where to donate stained or holey textiles
Number four: old rags, sheets, towels and not nice clothes. Got stained bedsheets or a t-shirt that you’ve had for 10 years that really no one else should ever wear ever? Things that are not nice enough to be donated to other people or even really reused by another human. Don’t give them to humans! Give them to animals. You can take things like old t-shirts, stained towel stained bedsheets to your local animal shelter. They use all of these constantly because if there’s one thing about animals is they’re going to make a mess! A lot of animal shelters need these items so that they can use them to bathe the animals, for the animals to sleep on, etcetera, etcetera.
Where to donate food
Number five is food. Frozen or canned food can always be taken to homeless shelters or food banks. Fresh food can also be donated to these places. But sometimes if you’ve had something for a couple of days and you’re like this really needs to get eaten in the next 24 or 48 hours, it’s better to look locally. And I’m talking hyperlocal you can give that to friends or family who live nearby. Or you can even list it in online groups like Buy Nothing and say, “Hey, I’ve got six bananas and I’m leaving town tomorrow, does anyone want these they can make banana bread?”
If you don’t have a Buy Nothing group, look for an online group that is for your neighborhood. When I lived in Austin, I lived in an area called Windsor Park and there was a Windsor Park Facebook group so I was a part of that, as well as my Buy Nothing group. And between the two it was really easy to get rid of fresh food that I wasn’t going to eat for whatever reason.
Where to donate bathroom products
Number six is bathroom products. Half-used conditioner, weird bottle of body wash, hair straightener you bought and then decided you were never going to put in the effort to actually straighten your hair every day. Well, first anything opened or partially used. We’re gonna list back on Facebook right into our Buy Nothing or our neighborhood groups. We’re going to try and get rid of those in our hyper local community. Goodwill does not want your half used bottle of shampoo, I pinky promise, but your neighbor might want it.
Now with things like haircare items such as curling irons or straighteners that you’re not using: those can be donated to organizations like Dress for Success or Beauty Bus Foundation, which provides in home beauty treatments for terminally ill folks. If you have something like gently used makeup, I’m talking about a blush that you tried once and realized it was too dark for you. Or something like makeup remover wipes that you’ve only used two of you can donate those to Project Beauty Share. They accept things like gently used makeup shampoo and conditioner that are more than halfway filled and beauty containers like makeup bags or travel bags, and they use them in their work. They help women and family who are experiencing homelessness, domestic violence or abuse issues.
Now if you have a hair tool that no longer works and it can’t be donated, you can actually mail that to InStyler and they will recycle it for you.
I hope this helps. And if you’re more of a visual learner, you can watch our video all about Where to Bring Donations to Avoid Waste.
Let’s keep more trash out of the ocean!