Know Before You Donate

Know Before You Donate

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There are so many great organizations that rely on donations.    Whether it’s clothing, furniture, shoes, …..  It CAN be used for a good cause.  There are also loads of recycling options for metals, chips bags, wine corks and other items.  IF, and this is a big if, the organization can use it!   Disposable costs can be high, not to mention the wasted time and energy used to sort through the items.  Make sure your good deed is actually GOOD!

Understand What to Donate

Many organizations have websites with explanations on what they accept.  Some even have specific lists of do’s and don’t.  They fascinate me. I know, recycling geek that I am!  But I have discovered many items I did not think could be re-used by looking through these lists.  

Many charities work directly with people in need.  For this reason, they can only use donations that still have some life left in them.  They are not recycling the items.  One such organization in my area is The Wish Project.  In their October Newsletter they stated: 

“Currently, more than 20% of goods donated are unwanted and we struggle each week to find a way to recycle them or relocate them. “

On the other hand, there are textile recyclers who can take just about any kind of textile (fabric) as long as it’s dry, clean and free of mildew or hazardous materials like oil or paint.  But you need to be sure that where you are donating can handle this.

Still Not Sure….

If you still aren’t sure, ASK!  I’m sure they’d prefer to answer a few emails or phone calls than get mountains of unusable items.  It takes a lot of time, energy and money to dispose of the items a charity can’t use.  Trash disposal is big bucks.  Money that your charity can’t use to further their cause. 

Don’t think – Oh I bet they’ll be able to use this.  They may not.  I once had a mountain of plastic clothes hangers that I didn’t want to recycle since they were still useable – just not by me.  I thought a local charity might be able to use them, but hangers were not on their list of acceptable items.  So I emailed to check.  Turns out they CANNOT use them.  They usually fold all of their clothing.  Good to know! 

Asking saves you time and energy as well.   If I had just assumed they could use the hangers, I would have wasted time and gas bringing the hangers to them.  Instead, since I discovered that Savers does accept and use plastic hangers.

I write this with first-hand experience.  I sometimes get the weirdest things in the Upcycle It! bins.  Some people think I can recycle ANY plastic.  Not true.  Those items aren’t so bad, but it does take extra time and energy to sort through it all.  Take a look at MY trash after one sorting session   Ironic isn’t it!



It’s the really weird things that make me go, “huh?”  I once received a bag full of what looked like wall board and carpet fibers, a CFL light bulb, and scrap wood.  I kid you not.  I’m really not sure what the thought process was here.  In my trash they went, well except the CFL which went to the hardware store to be disposed of properly.  I appreciate the effort people make to donate goods, recycle, and reduce waste in general.  Just make sure you aren’t unknowingly causing more of a mess somewhere else.


Got any good donation tips?


2 Responses to Know Before You Donate

  1. Small Footprints November 11, 2013 at 12:33 pm #

    Excellent tips! We went to goodwill recently and they wouldn’t take one of the items we brought to them (wire coat hangers). It was good to know and I’ll remember (luckily somone on Freecycle wanted them). I’d like to add that charitable donations should include useable items rather than garbage. I’ve seen so many broken things put in a donation box … and really, no one can use them. Instead, find a recycle company or offer them on Freecycle (people find uses for the most amazing things). Thanks, again, for sharing your first-hand knowledge.

    • Kristina November 11, 2013 at 6:50 pm #

      Great point to make! I have separate areas for things to donate, that are still in working order, and others to recycle. Big difference! Freecycle is fantastic as well. I once offered a printer that didn’t work, but the scanner part still did. Someone just needed a scanner!

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