How to Donate or Recycle your Stuff
A list of resources to responsibly get rid of stuff
If you’re thinking of moving to another country or even another part of town, or you just need to declutter and downsize, you may be curious to know where you can responsibly donate or recycle some of your stuff. This article focuses primarily on organizations in the United States, but a few have global locations. If you’re looking for other ways to sell some of the stuff you want to get rid of, read my article, How to Get Rid of Stuff.
There are many organizations – some in your local community or some that are nationwide - that will accept donated household items, cars, electronics, books, medical devices, pet supplies, and clothing in your local area or will recycle them for you. The standard popular donation centers such as Goodwill and Salvation Army have been omitted from this list.
No matter which organizations you choose to donate your items, be sure the items are clean and usable. Items that can be recycled do not always have to be in working or usable condition but items to donate should.
ITEMS TO DONATE
Arts and Crafts Supplies – If you have any usable arts and crafts supplies that you no longer need, consider contacting a local community school or non-profit agency, or a community senior center, and inquire if they accept these types of donations.
Books – Books for Africa collects, sorts and ships donated text and library books to African countries. Their goal is to empower children and students through reading. You can send books by mail or drop-off at their Georgia or Minnesota warehouses. They have a specific list of the types of books they accept on their website.
Operation Paperback is a national non-profit organization that sends paperback books to American troops stationed overseas. They also serve stateside veterans and military families. Register online to become a Volunteer Shipper where you can input the types of books you have to donate and receive a list of troops, veterans and families who would appreciate your books. You then pack, address and ship your package using the names the organization provides to you. Check out their website for details. (Note: Media Mail from USPS is an inexpensive way to mail books).
Bras - Free the Girls is an international non-profit organization. Their focus is to help sex trafficking survivors with a path towards gaining economic, health, and education success. Their Bras + Bucks program takes donated bras in good condition and helps women start their own second-hand marketplace businesses. There are drop-off locations nationwide or you can ship your gently used bras to their Indiana warehouse.
I Support the Girls collects and distributes bras and feminine hygiene products to women experiencing homelessness, poverty or are victims of a disaster. They work through an international network of affiliates. There are drop-off locations, or you can mail your donation to them.
Cell Phones - Cell Phones for Soldiers, a national non-profit organization that provides cost-free communication services and emergency funding to active-duty military members and veterans. There are different options for shipping phones to the organization. There are also drop-off locations throughout the U.S.
Secure the Call – collects unwanted, used cell phones. They select used phones that work well enough to be reused for emergency purposes (calling 911). They ship the phones to agencies, companies, and institutions nationwide for redistribution to individuals such as senior citizens and domestic abuse victims who are not only in need but at an elevated risk for requiring emergency services. They have drop-off barrels in many areas, but you can also donate by sending them your used cell phones by mail.
Career Clothing - Dress for Success is a global, not-for-profit organization empowering women to achieve economic independence. They accept career clothing and accessories through their global affiliate network. Find a local affiliate on their website as well as a list of items that are accepted for donation.
Clothing and Household Items – ClothingDonations is a service of the non-profit Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA). They accept donations of gently used and usable items including clothing, shoes, small appliances, furniture, baby items, kitchenware, and electronics. They raise funds for veterans by selling donated items to qualified privately-owned thrift stores. You can call a toll-free number or go online to schedule a pick-up.
Habitat for Humanity operates Habitat ReStores throughout the country. They accept home improvement donations including building materials, new or gently used furniture, appliances, and housewares. Proceeds from the sale of items goes to support Habitat for Humanity’s work. You can drop-off your donations at one of their stores or call them to pick-up larger items if you live near one of their retail locations.
Coats - One Warm Coat provides coats to children and adults in need. Their website provides the locations of local organizations which accept donations of coats in good, usable condition.
Electronics – The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence accepts donations of used cell phones and accessories, laptops, Mp3 players, digital cameras, and video game systems. They will refurbish or recycle and then sell the donated items. Proceeds go to support the services NCADV provides to survivors of domestic abuse. Donations can be mailed to the organization. See the website for details.
Computers with Causes – accepts donations of computers, laptops, and other types of electronics, and distributes to a network of charitable programs that assist those who need a computer but cannot afford one. They have an online state-by-state directory of how and where to donate.
Eyeglasses - Lion’s Club International Recycle for Sight Program donates eyeglasses to developing countries through their eyeglass recycling centers. Their website lists their collection centers by state.
ReSpectacle is a mail-in option for donating eyeglasses. This organization accepts donations of eyeglasses in gently used condition. They clean and categorize donations based on their prescription and distribute to underserved communities worldwide.
Vision and Optical Center chains also accept eyeglass donations. Check your local vision centers to see which ones have donation or eyeglass recycling programs.
Furniture – FurnitureBank is a network of furniture banks in North America. Check their website for locations and how to donate used furniture.
Halloween Costumes for Children – Headquartered in Louisiana, ‘Ween Dream is a non-profit organization that distributes donated, clean and gently used Halloween and dance recital costumes for children across the U.S. who have special needs or disabilities, children experiencing homelessness or poverty, children in foster care or shelters, or children who have experienced a recent trauma or are victims of a natural disaster. You can send your donation to their headquarters, and they will match it to a needy child.
Hearing Aids - Hearing Charities of America provides hearing health services for those in need. All used hearing aids are accepted regardless of their age or brand. Fill out the online form and they will contact you with instructions on how to donate.
Magazines – consider donating your old magazines to a local school for art projects or to a nursing home or community senior center (magazines should be tasteful and appropriate to the age group).
Pet Supplies - I’m an animal lover, so I wanted to be sure to include the types of items you can donate to your local animal shelters and humane societies: towels, blankets, pet food (sealed, not opened), paper towel, cleaning supplies, leads and leashes, office supplies, metal crates, pet carriers, food bowls. Contact your local animal shelter to get a list of items they currently need.
Prom Dresses – Becca’s Closet accepts donations of new or gently worn long and short formal dresses and distributes them to high school girls who want to attend their proms but can’t afford a dress. The organization has volunteer-led chapters throughout the U.S. See their website for a location near you.
Shoes – Soles4Souls is an international organization. They accept donations of gently worn or new shoes and clothing. The organization helps empower people in developing countries to launch their own small businesses selling the donated items. There are drop-off locations listed on their website, or you can ship your donations for free.
Vehicles – It’s always best to research a charitable organization before donating a vehicle. Check for an organization that can assist with titles and any other vehicle transfer paperwork. Also check with a tax professional to determine if donating a vehicle is a beneficial tax deduction for you. Always be sure that your vehicle is clean with all valuables removed, and no receipts or paperwork left behind containing your personal information.
Volunteers of America provides a variety of services for at-risk youth, the disabled and homeless, and provides mental health and substance abuse services. They also assist with housing for the homeless, veteran and formerly incarcerated people. The organization accepts donations of vehicles, running or not, including cars, trucks, boats, RVs, trailers, motorcycles, off-road vehicles, campers, farm machinery, and other types of motorized vehicles. Refer to their website for more information on donating a vehicle.
The National Kidney Foundation’s Kidney Cars program accepts donations of vehicles in any condition including cars, trucks, vans, motorcycles, motor cross bikes, power sports equipment, and construction equipment. Donated vehicles are sold through auction to dealers and recyclers. Proceeds go towards funding programs and services for Americans with kidney disease. Their website provides details on how to donate.
Wedding Dresses – Brides Across America donates 2,000 wedding dresses each year to military and first responder brides. They accept wedding dress donations if the dress is 4 years old or newer, and in gently worn or new condition. Their website provides more information on the types of dresses (and veils) they accept along with the current list of sizes needed. You fill out a form online with the required information and they’ll get back to you. If your donation is accepted, you’ll receive shipping instructions.
CHARITABLE ORGANIZATION DIRECTORIES
If you can’t find an organization to donate your items, try using these online charitable organization directories.
Donation Town – is a nationwide directory of charitable organizations that will pick up your donations. There are a variety of charities and categories to choose from.
PickupMyDonation – matches charities by your zip code that will pick up your donations.
ITEMS TO RECYCLE
In addition to the services listed below that offer recycling of specific items, you can also do a Google search using the search term, “Recycling Centers near me” to find recycling locations in your community.
Clothing and Textiles – PlanetAid collects used clothing and textiles and sells, reuses, or recycles them. Used fabrics are resold in developing countries which helps to create jobs and affordable clothing for the underserved. There are drop-off bins in several states.
Electronics – Apple Trade-In allows you to trade in an eligible device for an Apple Gift Card. If the device is not eligible, Apple will recycle your device for free.
BestBuy offers a recycle program (up to 3 items per household per day) including televisions, computers, cellphones, appliances, printer ink and toner, and video games and gadgets. Pick up is available for larger items.
Medic, a company that builds open-source software that supports health workers in underprivileged countries, has a phone donation program in partnership with The Wireless Alliance. They safely recycle old cell phones, tablets, and accessories to fund their open-source software and support to health workers across Africa and Asia. You package your used phones and devices in a box or shipping envelope, print a free shipping label and ship it.
Microsoft Trade-In and Recycling is like Apple Trade-In. You can go to any Microsoft store location to trade in old devices, game consoles, or games for a Microsoft store credit. If your items are too outdated and of little value, Microsoft will wipe the data from the device and recycle for free. You can also request a prepaid postage label to mail or ship your items.
UBreakIFix is a national franchise that repairs a variety of electronics including cell phones. They will safely recycle your old electronics. See their website for a location near you.
Call2Recycle is a clearinghouse of locations nationwide and in Canada that will recycle your rechargeable batteries. Find a drop-off location by entering your zip code and choosing the items you wish to dispose of. They’ll provide a list of locations in your area.
Need more solutions? Read my article, How to Get Rid of Stuff.
Until next time…