The Urge to Purge–Second Act

Previously, in  The Urge to Purge-Shake Your Money Tree, I talked about where to sell your stuff to make money. But there are probably many items in your home that you probably just want to unload. However, I have often questioned what happens to something when I “unload” it. I mean, if I bring a mountain of things to Goodwill or Salvation Army, does it actually help anyone? Does it sell?Do they just end up tossing it if it doesn’t sell? If it does sell, how much actually goes to help people?

So, while my first goal is to get rid of stuff, keeping that stuff out of the landfill is a very close second, and putting it in the hands of someone who will value it, is not far behind. Unfortunately, oftentimes items you want to unload are considered trash, things your may think no one has a use for. I’d like to think, though, that everything in our homes has life beyond our single use of it.

Support your local Businesses…give them their crap back

Items that fall in this category are things like those annoying wire hangers from the dry cleaners. These normally go straight into the garbage. Break the cycle and see if your dry cleaner would take the hangers back. It makes their business more profitable and makes your house less cluttered.

Also consider what you might normally do with vases. You know, the cheap ones your anniversary flowers come in. In offices and homes across America, empty flower vases left over from thoughtful gestures end up jammed and forgotten in cabinets and closets. It takes very little effort to find a local flower shop that would love to have these back. It’s easy enough for them to sanitize them and re-use them. They may even offer you a small discount for your generosity.

Please think twice about tossing your packing materials in the trash. You probably know someone that does an online business that would be very appreciative of your supplies. Or even a small business somewhere that could gladly take them off your hands.

There are probably even items that you would normally toss that vendors in your Farmer’s Market would love to have. For example, my Farmer’s Market has a lovely young lady that sells flowers by the bunch. You can gather your own bunch for $5 or have her make you an arrangement. When she makes them, she uses small vases, jars and glasses for that chic country look. All my old jelly and pickle jars can have a useful second home.

Also at every farmer’s market, not to mention in every farm community across America, are egg farmers. Saving your egg cartons and giving them to the local vendors could mean getting a nice discount every once in a while on fresh eggs, or … it could just make you feel real good about yourself.

Every year at the office, other people’s kids try to sell me stuff.  Every once in a while I give in and get a magazine subscription.  Inevitable, they come along too quickly to keep up with, which makes it difficult to get rid of.  You’ll read it someday, right, or come back to it for that recipe or great idea.  Many offices, however, pay a lot of money to have a variety of magazines available for their patrons.  If you know someone that has a small business with a waiting area for clients, ask them if they would like to have your magazine.  Also, offices within your local government might have an active need for them. For example, my local jury commission has an open request for magazines to help alleviate boredom of potential jurors waiting to do their duty. And trust me, those magazines live on in that room for years.

Consider Purposeful Giving

Donations to non-profits are not limited to money. Let’s not kid ourselves, they would rather have your money. But, in lieu of your money, there may be items that they would like to have, since it probably means increasing services or reducing costs. However, like I mentioned above, I don’t like giving a load of stuff to Goodwill or Salvation Army. This is mostly because I have no idea how much of my contribution ends up helping the needy.  I like the idea of targeted donations to help fill the needs of local non-profits. I will make an admission, mostly because my husband called me out on it.  While I have contributed in all the ways I listed above, I have not done all of the things below.  This is because some of these suggestions came about from reviewing my local Green Guide published by my local paper and simply spoke to me.  These contributions can make a real difference, even if you can’t afford to make a monetary donation.  

  • You can give your old Camping equipment to local homeless shelter
  • Habitat for Humanity will take excess construction materials and appliances.
  • Your local animal shelter or animal control will take blankets and towels.
  • United Cerebral Palsy Association through their assistive technology exchange network ( will accept computers, printers, monitors, disk drives, cell phones, ink jet cartridges, CD-ROM drives, software, server equipment, communication devices, and accessories to refurbish and donate to schools throughout Illinois for children with disabilities.
  • There are probably many organizations that will be thankful for your art supplies (including all those over-priced scrap-booking supplies that you finally admitted you will never use) such as daycares, community programs, non-profits focused on children or the disabled, or even the elderly. And don’t worry, even a box of stubby crayons can have a second home, see these two resources:

And hey, just throwing it out there, did you know you can recycle cork? It doesn’t really help a local business or non-profit, but it’s pretty cool.  Admit you’re never actually going to build a bulletin board or coaster and see where you can drop them off.

If you have any creative ideas about our local businesses and non-profits using stuff we no longer need, share, share, share! Heck, I’ll even take ordinary ideas.  I just want to start a conversation.  Just in the research I did for this article, I found out that I can take that pile of old stained and bleached towels I have in my laundry room to the animal shelter.  That wasn’t even on my radar before now.


2 responses to “The Urge to Purge–Second Act

  1. My co-worker’s kid was collecting items for our local animal shelter and listed so many items I never would have thought of : Liquid hand soap or sanitizers, cleaning and laundry supplies, office supplies (folders, paperclips, pens), and old leashes, harnesses and collars. And they said that one of the best cat toys is a shower curtain ring! AND, if you have a big bone from a roast or something, throw it in the freezer and when you visit your shelter you will make a dog very, very happy indeed.
    Some charities give as little as 3 cents to the dollar to the dedicated recipients, it’s so much better to donate items or your time! And if you volunteer, keep track of your mileage because they may be tax deductible just as a cash donation would be!

    • You guys are so smart! You reminded me, too, of giving to our military. Not only do many organizations send care packages that would welcome books and magazines, but last year a friend requested a household donations for her son in the service for his apartment when he was stateside.

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