Saturday, January 30, 2016

Things Worth Knowing 1.30.16: What to Do with Unwanted Clothing

Now that winter is finally here, many of us are spending more hours indoors. What better time to clean out our closets and chests of drawers? There are many theories about how to decide what to keep and what to get rid of, but chances are no matter which criteria you use, if you tackle this project you will end up with a pile of stuff you no longer want.

Don’t throw any of it into the trash — no matter how many holes in a sock or how frayed the towel edge. Even if your donation cannot be sold as gently used apparel, there is an excellent chance that it can have a second life as a new product such as home insulation or stuffing for a car seat. And, it will not end up in the waste stream, saving both natural resources and tax dollars!

Donating to a Charitable Organization
One way to rid yourself of these unwanted items is to donate them to a charitable organization. Some organizations deal directly with a specific cause and only want textiles in good condition to pass on directly to their clients. Others operate thrift stores in which donated goods are sold to generate revenue to support the organization’s mission. The best goods are sold in their retail outlets; the others are sold to processing facilities. 

Goodwill Industries, with a network of independent, community-operated stores and collection centers around the country, is one charity that will gladly accept all your textile donations. Locate a convenient donation center by entering your zip code here. If you have a large amount of goods, call to see if your local Goodwill is willing to make a pickup.

Another charity that will accept a full range of textiles is the Salvation Army. This Christian ministry operates 7,546 centers in communities across the United States, providing a range of services including food distribution, disaster relief, drug rehabilitation centers, and children’s programs. You can find a drop-off location for your goods or schedule a pickup by entering your zipcode here

Donations to a charitable organization may be useful to you at tax time if you itemize and can submit an itemized donation valuation form. Goodwill and the Salvation Army each have valuation guides to help you with this process. 

Although it is convenient to drop off items in the collection bins you see in so many parking lots, if it is important for you to know that you are helping a charitable organization, take a second to verify that the bin has been placed by such a group. Goodwill prepared this handy guide to help you make informed decisions about how to put your donations to best use.

Donating at a Retail Store
If you have specialty shopping to do and would prefer a financial incentive over a tax deduction, there are a growing number of retailers that offer in-store coupons to those who recycle shoes and clothing at their locations. Some collect only their own products, but there are several retailers in our area that accept any brand for recycling. Click on the links for details:
  • H&M: Any brand of clothing and home textiles
  • Levis: Any brand of clothing or footwear
  • Nike: Athletic Shoes any Brand
  • The North Face: Any brand of clothing or footwear
For more information
The “What do I do with…?” section of the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) site is a great resource for residents looking to recycle their goods. Here is the link to the What Do I Do with my Clothing/Textiles section.

NOTE: One of the many hats I wear is graphic designer of HomeHaven News, the monthly newsletter for HomeHaven, a member of the Village to Village Network. This article is an expanded version of my “Responsible Downsizing” column in the most February, 2016 edition. HomeHaven and the growing network of villages around the country are an extraordinary resource for people who want to “live life to the fullest in the comfort of their own home.”

I hope you find all of this info “Things Worth Knowing.” Check for more stories like these as time goes by. [And search this blog for more posts in this vein.]

Happy Saturday.

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