Cleaning out the clutter and organizing always results in a conundrum: What do I do with all of the stuff I don’t want?! The Goodwill or Salvation Army is always a great option, but sometimes, you may want to spice it up a bit. Or in my case, I want to KNOW what happens to my stuff. I want it to be a bit more personal than dropping it off behind a building in an otherwise abandoned alley somewhere on the wrong side of town. Here are a few things I’ve tried, and a few more that I plan on trying.
Donate gently worn shoes for domestic and international aid. There are many drop-off locations locally, with most locations (shoe stores) offering discounts on the purchase of new kicks. Piperlime also provides directions on mailing donations to their warehouse, and they, in turn, will join up with Soles for Souls. It also scores a sweet tax deduction. Whether the discount or the tax deduction is taken (I have a feeling the IRS would have a problem with both…), this seems like a great way to clear clutter out of your home, provide someone else with something they need, reduce the amount of waste in landfills, and score a small kick-back in addition to the warm heart of doing something good. You could also do this as a “drive” for churches or organizations looking for something besides the normal “baked goods drive” or “coat drive” (which I am guilty of doing both in the last few months).
List the books that you want to get rid of. If someone else wants that title, they click a button, and poof! You have a credit that you can now use to request a title of your own. Just for signing up (free!) and posting 8 titles, you get a few free credits. Audio books, paperbacks, and hardbacks are accepted in all genres, including children’s books. That’s right pre-service teachers! You can trade Twilight for No, David and jumpstart your classroom library. The only kicker is that the owner of the book pays shipping, but by sending it via Media Mail, shipping is around $2 or sometimes cheaper. The site offers a great tool where you can buy and print shipping labels-then just drop the mail in any mailbox. I’ve used this site for about a year, and I love it. It’s so easy to use, and the books I posted all got requested within a week or two.
Movies and Music
Like Paperback Swap above, DVD & CD Swap allows members (free!) to exchange this media. I haven’t used it yet, but I know I have a few totes of Alanis Morisette, Smashing Pumpkins, Savage Garden, and Jessica Simpson (I had diverse tastes) and other embarrassing random Junior high CD’s. And we own something like 400 DVD’s. Since switching to Netflix, it is safe to assume that we can part with some discs, or at least exchange them for some new, free entertainment.
For a few years now, I have been trying to find an organization that accepts partially used toiletry items, such as the cool new miracle face lotion that I had to have (and used once), or the 18 bottles of body spray I got for Christmas that I sprayed once. Surely, people need these items! Yet, for legal reasons (we’re a sue-crazy society), most organizations will only accept unopened items. Enter Craig’s List. While a great place to find bigger items like furniture, or even services, I’ve found that people also peruse for less traditional items. I’ve had limited experience selling on Craig’s List, but the few times I have, I’ve been overwhelmed with responses. Last Summer I sold a milkcrate of crafting scraps (scraps!) for $20. I’m willing to bet that a donation of gently used toiletry items will be greatly appreciated by many folks, especially those who work directly with the less fortunate.
Games, Crafts, & Office Supplies
Call your local schools. Often the main office staff will accept the items and place them in the teacher’s lounge with a big “FREE” sign (teacher’s respond well to anything free), or they may put you in touch with a new teacher who could use updated supplies. YMCA’s, Boy’s and Girl’s Clubs of America, or other community organizations are good places as well as they normally have an influx of students in afterschool and summer programs with zero funding.
Also, check with friends and family. In this economy, everyone can use a bit of help. Continue the Christmas spirit by hosting a White Elephant party, with a twist. Everyone must bring “junk” or “clutter” that needs to be cleaned out to exchange. Doing this a few times a year will at least ensure that you have different “stuff” to look at lying around your house!