Bluedot’s Guide to Getting Rid of (Almost) Everything

We reduce, we reuse, we recycle. But inevitably we end up with items that we just aren’t sure what to do with. We want to dispose of them responsibly. But how? Where? That’s where Bluedot comes to the rescue with our guide on how to get rid of (almost) everything. We know there’s plenty we haven’t yet covered (we’re working on it!) so please tell us what we’re missing. And if you know of how to get rid of it, please share.


Books: 

We are huge fans of Little Free Libraries, where you can drop off or pick up your latest read. But if it’s time to purge your personal library and it requires more space than a little house on a pole offers, then try:


Bras: 

It can take over 200 years for textiles to decompose in the landfill. Instead of sentencing your old bras to that slow death, give them a new life by sending them to Bra Recyclers. This organization accepts old bras and donates them to women in need, including survivors of domestic violence and human trafficking, women who are homeless or living in poverty, and women struggling with medical expenses, such as breast cancer survivors. Bra Recyclers sends usable bras to these women, and will recycle unusable bras — so feel free to donate your bra even if it isn’t in pristine condition.


Computers:

You might be done with your old laptop, but it can still be of use to someone. The nonprofit Computers with Causes accepts old tech items and donates them to students, foster children, shelters, disabled US veterans, and a number of other causes. World Computer Exchange is another nonprofit that will donate your unwanted tech items to people in need. 


Electronics: 

If you’d like to get some cash for your electronics, sell them to Decluttr or through Amazon’s trade-in program, which will give you Amazon gift cards in return. If you’re looking for more options, check out SellCell, a site that compares buyback companies and helps you find the best deal. 


Eyeglasses: 

Lions Clubs around the world will accept your eyeglasses and ensure they make their way to someone who needs them. You can find locations here

Various retailers, including LensCrafters, Target Optical, Pearle Vision, Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club Optical will accept donations and get them to the appropriate nonprofits either for responsible disposal or reuse. Check with your closest optical retailer to confirm.


Fur Coats: 

The fur industry is on the decline, and awareness of the animal cruelty behind the once-chic fur coat has spread. You might not be shopping for these pieces anymore, but if you have an old fur coat gathering dust, there are organizations ready to help. PETA, for one, is taking these remnants of a brutal industry and turning them into something positive for those in need. Mail your unwanted fur to PETA, and they will donate it to the homeless or refugees. Some wildlife rehabilitators also accept these garments and recycle them into bedding and tiny capes to keep injured animals warm. Find a list of rehabilitators who will take your fur coats here


Furniture, Building Materials, Appliances:

Habitat for Humanity accepts these new or gently used items, including furniture, household appliances, and building materials, which you can either drop-off at a Habitat ReStore near you or schedule for pickup. The money raised at these stores goes toward the organization’s efforts to help families in need build affordable homes. 


Greeting Cards: 

St. Jude’s Ranch for Children will accept greeting cards — used or new ones that you just never got around to sending. Children at the hospital will attach new backs to the cards to create new cards, which St. Jude’s sells on their website. The only cards you cannot send in are Hallmark, American Greetings, and Disney (for copyright reasons) and cards from other nonprofits.


Mascara Wands: 

If you’re letting old mascara wands pile up in your bathroom, unsure about how to recycle them, there’s an adorable solution for you. Wands for Wildlife will repurpose these beauty tools for use by wildlife caregivers to brush ticks, dirt, and fly larva from orphaned or injured animals. Mascara wands are suitable for this task because of their soft, fine bristles. The organization also repurposes wands for art projects. Wander on over to their website to gawk at photos of cute animals and learn more about how to send in your used wands


Mattresses: 

After the hassle of finding the perfect new mattress, you’re left with the daunting task of getting rid of your old one. Instead of just leaving it out on the street, contact a nearby mattress recycling service. If you live in New York, Renewable Recycling will pick up your old mattress for $95 and up depending on your location (the company also accepts drop offs for $40 per mattress). They repurpose the material for use in animal beds, bicycle seats, light posts, and a number of other products. For those who don’t live in NYC, check out ByeByeMattress.com or Earth911.com to find similar services near you.   


Pianos: 

Got a piano that you never really play taking up space in your living room? Piano Adoption accepts free pianos and keyboards. Just add a listing to their website and shoppers looking for a free piano in your area will contact you if they’re interested in purchasing. The buyer and seller then coordinate the exchange. 


Prom Dresses:

When a high school student died in a car accident, her family and friends decided to carry on with her incredible initiative to provide prom dresses to anyone who needed one. Thus Becca’s Closet was born, with chapters through the U.S. We should all leave a legacy so beautiful.


Socks: 

Smartwool’s “Second Cut” Project will recycle donated socks into dog beds. They will take any brand of socks.


Toothpaste Tubes: 

Tom’s of Maine has a first-of-its-kind tube that can be recycled in home recycling bins – including the cap. Parent company Colgate-Palmolive says it will share technology with others but, thus far, Tom’s is the only brand you can toss in the recycle bin. 


Wedding Dresses: 

Is your wedding dress taking up too much space in your closet? You can make someone else’s big day memorable and make some extra money by selling it through stillwhite.com. You pay a one-time fee, post some photos and videos of the dress, and get connected with potential buyers all through the website. 


Wine Corks: 

You can throw your glass wine bottle in the recycling bin — but what to do with the cork? Recork and Cork Forest Conservation Alliance will accept them and use them to make shipping material, fishing tackle, shoe soles, and model-train tracks, among other things. To limit their carbon footprint, these organizations do not receive shipments and instead accept materials at drop-off locations. Search for one near you on their websites.


Women’s Work Attire: 

Dress for Success has locations around North America, the UK, the EU, and Africa and will take your business-attire cast-offs (clean and in good condition, please) and outfit women seeking to achieve and maintain work. 


Miscellaneous:

GreenDrop is a donation dropoff-and-pickup service that serves the East Coast of the U.S. with roughly 40 locations. You can designate which of the handful of charities it partners with you’d like your flotsam and jetsam delivered to. The organization accepts kitchenware, games, books, small appliances, and furniture. 

DonationTown will accept anything from toys and jewelry to CDs and skates — and charities in cities around North America will benefit. It’s all free and you can arrange a drop-off or pickup by visiting donationtown.org

Vietnam Veterans of America will accept donations of household goods, clothing, toys, musical instruments, sports equipment, tools, and more. Visit the site for details or to arrange pickup.

If you know of somewhere accepting items that are typically hard to dispose of, let us know. Email editor@bluedot.com.

Bluedot Living
Bluedot Living
Bluedot Living Magazine is a sustainable living magazine and website with locations throughout North America.

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1 COMMENT

  1. Act Two Second Hand Store at 66 main Street in Vineyard Haven, a licensed non profit, is happy to receive donations of gently used furniture, clothing, jewelry, artwork, lighting, and rugs. We exist to raise funds for Community Theater, Arts, and Education on Martha’s Vineyard. While supporting and funding other not-for-profit organizations, ACT TWO also strives to be both a principal year round Island business and social anchor in the downtown business district. Our motto is “Doing well by doing good.” We try to re-home as many items as possible, preventing landfill.

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