25 Mar Please Donate Responsibly!
Part of my services as a professional organizer includes taking one carload of donations on behalf of each client to the appropriate places where they will be used or have a chance of being resold.
Additionally I have helped clients to post items on Nextdoor that otherwise can’t be donated. I’ve had great success for re-homing the strangest items (old bbq grill; center console in a Honda Odyssey van; breast pumps; cpap machines; etc.) on Nextdoor.com.
Unlike most organizers, I don’t just go to one place to drop donations.
While I do take the bulk of donations to one place (Saver’s in RWC), I visit many other donation locations weekly or monthly, including but not limited to:
- Pets in Need
- Nine Lives
- Catholic Worker House
- Selby Lane Elementary
- Woodside High School
- Blossom Birth
- Healthy Horizons
- Dress for Success
- Theater Works
- WHS Theater Department
I also drop hard-to-recycle items for clients including prescription glasses/readers/frames/cases to Lens Crafters, ink cartridges to Staples, medications to a local doctor’s office, e-waste to Recology and even sneakers to Nike.
If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area, you can check out my trusted list of donation, recycling and consignment options on my Resources tab on the Let Me Organize It website.
I spend anywhere from 2-hours to 5-hours dropping donations weekly. I’ve noticed some donation places are becoming very picky about what they will accept and it’s because people are not responsibly donating. A lot of trash is getting mixed in with donations, which means many donation places are now being more strict about what they will accept.
Please do the right thing and only donate things in good condition. Ask yourself: would you buy that item second hand?
If the answer is no, figure where the items needs to go: trash, parts in the trash and parts to recycling, can you reuse some cotton fabrics as rags? Get creative!
Other questions to consider:
- Is it gently used and not super worn?
- Is it torn/ripped, soiled/stained?
- Is it broken?
- Is it missing a part?
- Have the batteries corroded in the item?
- Does it turn on/off?
- Is the display broken or cracked?
- Are there major chips/dings or condition issues?
There are some exceptions to the rules —
For example, if you have some older towels with bleach stains on them, they are really only acceptable to donate to a local animal shelter. If there are small chips or dings in housewares (kitchen items, like drinking glasses or dishware) it might be ok to donate but if it could cut someone’s lips or hands, sadly they will have to be thrown out (or recycled). Don’t donate TVs that have a burned in image on the screen (which happens when they are left on pause for too long). Instead recycle it at your local recycling center.
Please do not donate broken items.
No one is going to take the time to buy an item and then invest in fixing it. In fact, if it doesn’t work, the workers at the thrift store will likely throw it out before it even hits the floor. If you can fix the item before donating it, please do. If not, you’ll need to throw it out or responsibly recycle it (i.e. if it’s an electronic item, take it for e-waste at your local recycling center).
Please be careful with batteries.
If you notice that the batteries have corroded (there’s visible white powder) please put on gloves before removing them. Place the corroded batteries in a plastic baggie and take to e-waste (in some counties you can put dead/corroded batteries on top of your recycling bin for pick up; please check with your local recycling facility for rules). You may need to clean out the area that held the corroded batteries, or throw it out in the trash if it can’t be cleaned. If you come into contact with the white powder (battery acid) wash your hands immediately. If you feel a burning sensation, google how to safely remove battery acid from your hands and follow instructions or go to a local hospital. You’ll need to neutralize the battery acid as soon as possible or it will continue to eat through your skin.
One way to avoid corroded batteries is to remove the batteries from an object in between uses (especially if you don’t use it often). Please do not throw corroded batteries in the trash!
Bottom line — please be considerate of what you donate. Do not donate trash and recycling for the local donation centers to sift through and throw out on your behalf. If we’re all more considerate, they will be more open to taking our donations, and won’t have to be so strict.
Please help spread the word! While it may take some effort on your behalf, you can rest assured you’ve done the right thing.
Have any questions about what you can and can’t donate? Please comment below and I’ll answer you.