Donation Saturation: Where do I donate all my stuff?

A friend of mine, after reading my book and following many of the clutter-clearing strategies, told me that she had difficulties giving away the stuff she no longer wanted.

“Nobody wants it!” she exclaimed. “I couldn’t find places to take the stuff. Everybody already has too much.”

I have also encountered challenges donating the things I no longer want. The abundance of cheap goods, many of which are also poorly made and break easily, has made it easy and seductive for us to accumulate more than we need. Places like dollar stores, for example, make it convenient and affordable to buy new stuff for every occasion, rather than reusing what we already have. Over time, we amass too much and it can be hard to get rid of when the time comes, if you want to do something other than throw it in the garbage.

In reality, going through your things to purge unwanted/unused stuff has almost become two projects:

  1. the actual process of going through your stuff; and
  2. figuring out how to get rid of it!

Here are some strategies to help you through the second project.

Adjust your expectations of the purging process. Start the project with the understanding that after you decide what you no longer need, there’s another step involved to identify places to take your stuff.

Create separate “discard” piles as you go through your stuff into categories like “donate” (for things still in good condition), “recycle”, “giveaway” (for that special friend you know will love it), and “trash”.

Search the internet for charities, or local community centers, that accept donations. Some may even provide pickup. Be sure to read their criteria.

Search for places that accept specialized recycling for things like electronics or mattresses.

If you live in a building, set-up an area where residents can leave items for others to take for their homes. This works wonderfully for things that still have use, but are time consuming to donate, such as wrapping up glassware.

Make a “free” box in your home. Every time you have a guest, offer them the opportunity to take something from the box. I often do this when I’m moving and I’ve had great success.

It definitely takes more effort to try and find homes for all your discarded items, rather than just tossing everything away, but it’s more sustainable and friendly to the environment.

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