Ever since I was a little girl, December was a big cleaning and clearing out month for me. I’m not sure if my mom ever said anything directly, I just new that historically there would be some new things coming into my room and life and that I wanted to have a clean and ready space for whatever that may be. I would make donation piles, we have always donated for as long as I can remember, and once recycling was available, recycling piles. Then I would dust and organize. I still do this each end of year, as well as in the spring.
It’s always been important to me when donating to keep items as local as possible and to find a group that is specifically in need of what I want to rehome. I want to support people who live close to me. I know that is not always the case for everyone. There may not be any local options and a national chain like Goodwill or Salvation Army is going to be either the most convenient or the only option. As long as we are moving items to people who need them and not throwing them into the trash or letting them get destroyed through pests, age and improper storage, I am good with whatever works best.
Logistically and for staff stress, I encourage you to clean, clear out, organize and donate as soon as possible before the year end if that year end date is important to you for tax reasons, New Year’s Resolutions, seasonally, mentally or emotionally. If you have ever driven by a Goodwill on New Year’s Eve you will know what I’m talking about. There can be lines of cars waiting to drop off items for tax receipts. Let’s help those volunteers and staff out by spreading out the work over the next few weeks. It also reduces emissions not to be sitting in lines, and we can spread out donations across the city and across needs.
I haven’t talked a lot about the emotional and mental benefits of donating since I want to focus on zero waste and keeping things out of the landfill, but it is refreshing and calming to see blank spaces if you had a lot of stuff, to not dig through and around items looking for something, and to know you are helping a local group and local neighbors get exactly what they want and are looking for. On the flip side, if you don’t have many possessions and are the recipient of exactly what you need or have been hoping for which completes your home or a daily need, I can only imagine how much of a blessing that can be.
Now I do want to caution you that the feelings of clearing, organizing, donating can be a bit addicting. So please don’t just buy things because you know you can donate them. Even buying secondhand and re-donating somewhat perpetuates all manufacturing of items which also tend to be made of virgin/new materials and not recycled content. I encourage you to be judicious in your purchases to begin with and limit what comes into your home, work and spaces. Be a good steward of items while in your care by treating them well and repairing them, having safe and proper storage, recycling them if they need to be, and donating them to a local group most in need of that type of item when you are ready to move it along. Please do not trash something if there is life in it still. If anything, there is likely a Goodwill on your route to somewhere you go on a regular bases. Use a map program and one will come up. The same applies to books, there is a library location near you.
I make space in my home and heart with charity to others.
I’m updating and reprinting places I like to recommend and support below. People have personal preferences about where to donate: whatever is closer/easier/safer, national charities/non-profits, local charity/non-profits, or hyper-local in their own neighborhood. I’ve tried to cover what may work for most people. You can find more ideas on my pages listed below.
Right next to my neighborhood in Austin is Hope Family Thrift Store with all proceeds benefiting the Austin Disaster Relief Network. Hope Family Thrift Store is open and accepting donations Monday – Saturday (check for holiday closures) from 10:00 a.m. – 5:45 p.m. Drive through the fence at the back of the building to the loading dock/outside storage area. You do need to unload yourself, but there’s plenty of room to park and move around. Hope will pick up furniture. They are pretty quick to respond so if you’d like to donate furniture quickly they’re a great way to do it.
Craft, hobby, decorating, and art supplies
Austin Creative Reuse located in the Windsor Park neighborhood of East Austin, sells gently used creative materials donated from individuals and businesses at an affordable price. If you ever tried a new hobby and didn’t stick with it, this is a great place to donate all those supplies to.
Little Free Libraries: Take a Book. Share a Book. Little Free Libraries are a great local resources to share books, magazines, puzzles, I’ve even seen movies and small toys in some of ours. Check the program’s website to find a location near you.
Recycled Reads: Recycled Reads receives all of Austin Public Library’s weeded material, as well as donations from the public. They sell, recycle or repurpose this material, and all proceeds benefit the Austin Public Library. See if your local library system does something similar and if not I encourage you to share the idea with them.
Buy Nothing Project on Facebook: When you type in Buy Nothing into the Facebook search, you should get a recommendation for your local neighborhood group. This ask/give/praise systems keeps items hyper local since it’s usually in your neighborhood and maybe a few adjacent ones (my group is three neighborhoods), is a great way to meet neighbors if you want, and can be a super fast way to move things along from the safety of your porch or designated site.
Local neighborhood, parent, market groups. I love to see posts on Buy Nothing or Marketplace for my neighborhood when kids or adults are looking for books or sharing series. It’s a great way to learn about new titles and authors and shrink your library.
I made a page that is always in the top toolbar of my blog, called Where Do I Donate/Recycle? Items are listed alphabetically so it’s really easy to find where to donate specific items. I have listed local and national chains in the hopes of making this easy and accessible to everyone.
Locally in Austin you can also use the Austin Reuse Directory for places to donate or shop for specific things.