Do you have things you would like to get rid of, but you’re not sure Goodwill or another thrift store will take them? Or, you fear they’ll just end up in the trash despite your best intentions to recycle?
Not wanting useful things to go to waste is a common reason for hanging onto stuff we’re no longer using. It’s a good impulse! We encourage keeping things out of the “waste stream” as much as possible. However, if you have so much “good” stuff that it’s making your life unmanageable, then it’s not so “good” anymore.
Here are some local resources for “re-homing” items that might not be good candidates for Goodwill:
Freecycle – Freecycle is a gifting community where members can offer items they have, large or small, that they no longer want but that may still be useful to others. Members can also ask for items they need. These groups are a fantastic way to match up somewhat obscure items (as well as “normal” stuff like clothes, books, and electronics) with people who need them.
For example, I had a styrofoam cooler in my garage for over a year. I didn’t need it, but it was still useful and I didn’t want to toss it in the trash. Then someone in my Freecycle group posted a request for a styrofoam cooler. I had just what they needed. I was able to meet a need, get rid of something I didn’t want, and know that it wasn’t going into a landfill. Win-win-win!
You can search for a freecycle network in any community at the main site.
Whatcom Potlatch – this yahoogroup is an off-shoot of the Bellingham Freecycle group. The rules are similar and the intention is to be a gifting community. There are many skilled “reusers and recyclers” in this group. Have extra craft supplies? Leftover lumber from a fencing project? Old board games missing a few pieces? Someone out there would be thrilled to take them off your hands!
Craigslist – Post items for sale, or offer for free or for barter. Always use cash transactions when selling or buying, and be alert for scammers. Also, be protective of your security (and that goes for Freecycle and Potlatch groups too). Be very careful about posting your address or information about your home, routines, or when you will be gone.
Whatcom Humane Society and the Alternative Humane Society – local shelters can often use donations of old blankets and towels. They can also take donations of pet food. Shoe boxes are sometimes used as comfy beds for cats in the shelter. And of course, pet supplies like leashes, toy in good shape that can be sanitized, or crates are always appreciated. Check each organization’s website for other specific needs they may have.
The ReStore – The ReStore, located at 2309 Meridian in Bellingham, is a fantastic place to donate used building supplies and odds and ends. (Here is a list of what they DON’T accept.) If you haven’t been into the ReStore, go take a walk around to get familiar with the kinds of items they carry and accept.
Appliance Depot – The Appliance Depot is part of the Reuse Works Project. They accept washers, dryers, refrigerators, and more. Curbside Pickup is available within Whatcom County, except Lummi Island and Pt. Roberts. One or two appliances: $20. Additional appliances: $5 each. If you purchase a refurbished appliance, they will deliver it and take away your old appliance(s).
Disposal of Toxics – Ever wondered what to do with paint, compact fluorescent light bulbs, or pesticides? Wonder no more! The drive up drop off site is located at 3505 Airport Drive and is open weekdays from 9 am – 4 pm and the first Saturday of every month from 9 am – 4 pm.
Electronics Recycling – RELectronics rebuilds and recycles used computers and other electronics. Some items have a processing fee, others are accepted free of charge. They are located at 2422 E. Bakerview. Safe and Easy electronics recycling also accepts computers, TVs, batteries, and more. Some items have a 25 cents/lb. processing fee. They are located at 4131 Hannegan Road, Suite 102, or 1770 Front St. #111 in Lynden. See each organization’s website for more information about items accepted, and fees.
Some final thoughts on groups like Freecycle. I hope that groups like this don’t become an excuse for you to hang onto even MORE stuff “just in case” not only you, but someone else, might need it someday! Use these groups as a way to simplify your life, not as an excuse to add more clutter. If you are prone to collecting, you may be tempted to go pick up cool stuff that other people are offering. The downside of these communities is that they can encourage hoarding of anything remotely useful. Try to keep an abundance mentality. Remember that if you really do need something in the future, no doubt someone in the community will be willing to give or share.