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It’s spring-cleaning time and with that comes your yearly clutter purge. But before you start tossing unneeded items in the trash, consider putting them to better use. From eyewear and electronics to clothes and furniture, the following organizations accept a wide range of basic and unexpected goods that can benefit others in need. Plus you’ll be helping to keep these items out of landfills, and, in many cases, you could get something that’s hard to pass up—a tax deduction.
1. Athletic shoes
At Nike Reuse-A-Shoe facilities, worn-out sneakers (of any make or brand) are broken down and converted into usable materials for new, top-of-the-line athletic surfaces for communities in need. Visit Nike Reuse-A-Shoe
for shipping instructions or to find a drop-off location near you.
(*Nike® is a registered trademark of NIKE, Inc.)
Through Books for Soldiers
, you can send “care packages for the mind” to troops stationed overseas—providing priceless respite from undoubtedly tough surroundings. Another organization that will help free up your bookshelves is Books To Prisoners
, which encourages rehabilitation through reading. Or do what member Helen R. (Londonderry, NH) does and recycle old books, CDs and DVDs in your community by donating them to local libraries.
3. Cell phones and electronics
The handy brand-by-brand guide
on greenergadgets.com offers resources for recycling various types of electronic devices; it includes an extensive, useful section on cell phones. Phones 4 Charity
reprograms used phones for basic communication and safety use in the U.S. and developing countries, while Cell Phones for Soldiers
provides phones for soldiers wanting to call home—certainly worthy reasons to dig through your closet for that old phone you’ll never use again. Just be sure to clear your personal information before sending it out.
Your unused or outdated eyeglasses could give someone clearer vision for the first time in his or her life. Lions Clubs International
offers a kit that makes it easy for you to mail them out. Because glasses are fragile, and you want them to travel through the mail without breaking, it’s best to wrap them in a small sheet of protective bubble wrap and then tuck them into an easy-to-close Ziploc® Brand Storage Bag
Big Brothers Big Sisters of America
will put old furniture to use in one of their many youth-mentoring program centers. Visit their site to find your local chapter. Goodwill Industries
is another option—and will actually pick up furniture that you can’t transport yourself.
Note: Donated furniture must be in good, presentable condition. Surface imperfections and wear are okay, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t apply a bit of TLC before giving it away. A quick pass with Pledge® Multi Surface Wipes easily removes dust, fingerprints, smudges and smears from furniture surfaces.
6. Office wear
Local charitable thrift shops and Goodwill are great for donating your unneeded clothing, but a more urgent need is for clothes appropriate for the workplace. Dress for Success
collects women’s office attire for economically disadvantaged women, giving them the opportunity to re-enter the workforce with renewed confidence. Each woman receives one suit for interviewing and a second when she gets a job. A similar charity for men is Career Gear
Note: The latter two charities accept only clothing in good-enough condition to wear to an interview, so be sure to launder or dry-clean garments before donating. Treat any stains on colorfast washables with super-concentrated Shout® Advanced Gel. It’s specially formulated to tackle stubborn, set-in stains and works great on everyday stains, too.
7. Other unneeded items
Most of your unneeded items that are still useful or in good shape will be welcome at your local thrift shop. Or as members Joanne W. (Palm Harbor, FL) and Greer D. (Ozark, AR) recommend, try Freecycle.org
—a worldwide gifting movement that saves useful resources from landfills while providing items for free to community members in need. Join your local group to start giving.
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7 ideas for recycling your clutter
Eco-friendly tips for your home from SC Johnson's Right@Home. Here are 7 ideas for recycling your clutter through the responsible donation of unneeded items.