The ONE thing we can all do to help ourselves is to keep giving, even after the Holiday Season is over. For the last few weeks we’ve perused the Internet and wandered aisles, choosing the perfect gifts for our friends and family — helping each other replace the old with the new. New pots and pans, sweaters, shirts, bathrobes, fluffy towels, and maybe even a new toy or two. As you look over your new gifts, keep in mind that the gift keeps on giving.
Whenever you get something new, ask yourself what you can get rid of. Local charities always need common household goods. Often their “most wanted” items are the things we already have in our own homes and don’t use anymore. These things can make a meaningful positive impact in someone else’s life, so take a look around and see if you have any of these five common household items laying around and take the time to donate them:
Local charities are always looking for clothing, and with the growth of clothing resale businesses, people don’t always think of charities first. The bottom line is this: don’t throw out your old clothes, no matter how ragged and worn you think they are.
According to the Council for Textile Recycling, 25 billion pounds of textiles are produced every year and only 15 percent get recycled. Textiles that end up in landfills add to our pollution load, off-gassing methane as they decompose. No matter the condition of the clothes, local charities know what to do with them. In the best-case scenario, your donation will provide a much-needed outfit for someone in need. In the worst case scenario, the really worn clothing gets recycled in a responsible way.
2. Kitchen appliances and supplies
We live in a food-focused era and many of us have kitchens filled with fancy spatulas or brand new crock-pots that we don’t use. Instead of keeping them for a “maybe I’ll make paella one day” opportunity, maybe the best choice is to donate them. Most charities accept working appliances and kitchen supplies in good condition. Just remember to try to round up all the attachments or cords that go with the appliance.
3. Female Products
Don’t let embarrassment prevent you from donating a product that is always in demand. Few people think about how needed feminine products are, not only for underdeveloped countries but also for low income women in the United States. SNAP and other welfare programs do not cover necessary menstrual products for women, and unfortunately, these are products that are often forgotten. Most local charities can get the products where they need to go, but it’s worth checking out your local charity’s website for additional resources they may need, specific to your area.
With new updates and products coming out at break-neck speed, it’s safe to say your electronic junk drawer could use some attention. Most large-scale electronic stores have donation programs (and some even have haul away service) for that heavy broken TV sitting in the garage.
The EPA reports that recycling one million laptops saves the same amount of energy as it would take to power 3,500 homes for a year. And if you’re thinking about being one of the millions of people who discard your cell phone this year in place of a new one, consider donating it to a charity that can put it in the hands of someone who could use it.
While it’s true that not all electronics can be used by or taken to a charity, responsibly discarding them still helps charitable causes like saving our environment. With the ever growing amount of e-waste that ends up in landfills, it’s important to make sure our tablets and TVs are being disposed of properly. Check here for a list of which places take what.
Even though audio books and podcasts are ever increasing, and “how to” books have given way to YouTube tutorials, there is still a need for books. When it’s time to clear out your shelves, the best thing to do is to donate your books. They are resold at local charity shops to raise money for retraining and job placement and countless other causes. Books can be sent to troops overseas, developing countries and even prisoners. Each organization usually lists which type of book they are in need of at the time of your donation.
The Declutter Bonus
The beauty of donating household items it that it usually declutters our living space. This is a great way to start any new year. Decluttering allows us to feel more organized, more productive and more at peace in our space. We can find what we need, get dressed faster, and put things away knowing that everything has its place in our home. Some declutter experts recommend keeping a basket or box in the back of our closet, so we can add to it on a regular basis. When the box is full, haul it off to a local charity. Others suggest a system that requires us to get rid of something old when we buy something new. This works quite well for clothing. Best of all, donating old stuff in the New Year makes room for the new gifts we’ve received during the Holidays.
The Feel Good Bonus
It’s been proven over and over that giving makes us feel good. Studies show that it increases happiness and longevity. Maybe that’s why we get such pleasure out of watching our loved ones open the gifts that we have given them.
Many of us give a lot during the holidays and then pull back in the New Year to reserve our spending and our resources. This is understandable and sensible, but our giving doesn’t have to come to a screeching halt. We can keep giving through donating. Statistics show that we tend to make our donations at one particular time of the year: 31 percent of all our donations take place in December and 12 percent happen in the last three days of the year. Let’s not forget about the 11 remaining months of the year when charities can still use our help.
Start your year off uncluttered, mentally and physically, and put yourself in a position to be productive and happy—donate!
Have a charity you love to donate to? Let us know your favorite ways to donate on our Facebook page.