Feelings of guilt over things going to waste can be enough for many of us to put off much-needed edits of our belongings. When tackling a project that involves letting things go, SK Organizing likes to identify ways to minimize what ends up in the trash without over-complicating the process. We choose a handful of destinations that can accommodate different categories of items no longer serving our clients.
In the previous post, we talked about options for selling and giving things away. Now let’s look at donating and recycling: two important ways to support our communities and the environment while creating the space we desire.
DONATING: Depending on your location, there are probably a variety of local charities that will accept your unwanted goods. They’re typically interested in lightly-used, sellable items only. Some charities will pick up if you submit a request and send pictures of large items (like furniture). Plan in advance! If you live in a multi-unit building or gated complex, it’s a good idea to check the association rules and insurance requirements before scheduling a pickup.
If making a donation of significant value, talk to your tax professional about how to assess that value and what documentation you will need. Working with a professional organizer? Make sure to communicate about whether and how they charge to drop off your donations, where donations will be taken (especially if you have specific destinations in mind), and what kind of record you’re looking for: a donation receipt specifying how many bags or boxes of each category, or a detailed inventory with pictures of each item? Keep in mind that this choice will affect the pace and therefore cost of the project.
SK Organizing frequently donates to:
Goodwill for clothing and household goods
National Council of Jewish Women for clothing and household goods
Habitat for Humanity ReStore for furniture, home décor, and building materials
Rebookit for collections of 200 or more books
The Lange Foundation (animal rescue) for towels and blankets
Big Sunday’s The Big List is a great resource for matching a specific donation to a charity that needs it.
Donation alternative: If you don’t need a tax receipt, or don’t have time to drop things off or wait for a pickup, consider giving things to neighbors for free by listing on sites like Nextdoor.com, Facebook Marketplace, and Freecycle.
RECYCLING & HOUSEHOLD HAZARDOUS WASTE: As you tackle your downsizing and organizing project, you might be surprised how much space is being occupied by cardboard packaging and other items that can be easily recycled. Consider scheduling your clean-out for the day prior to your regular pickup, as bins can fill up quickly. But when it comes to electronics and other items that need special handling, it’s worth a bit of extra effort to dispose of them properly. A professional organizer can help!
SK Organizing’s go-to resources include:
UCLA S.A.F.E. collection center for oil, batteries and household chemicals
Earth911.com to search by zip code for where to drop off 350 different types of material
Homeboy Recycling for electronics (they also restore and rent out vintage electronics)
Madewell for denim (recycled into insulation for new housing with Habitat for Humanity!)
Certain CVS locations and hospital pharmacies for prescription medications
Extra credit: More and more retailers and brands are offering recycling-for-rewards programs for whole categories of merchandise (i.e. H&M for clothing, DSW for shoes) or specific to their own items (i.e. MAC cosmetics, Eileen Fisher clothing, Nespresso coffee pods; see also this helpful directory by Terracycle). If you are loyal to certain stores or products, a store drop-off or manufacturer mail-in program may be worthwhile!
Lastly, make a mental note of what you’re letting go. Being conscious of what we no longer want or need can help inform our buying habits going forward. Spend less money, create less waste, and have less to keep organized!