You KonMaried Your House…Now Where Does the Stuff Go?
Have you gotten in on the KonMari trend? Founded by Marie Kondo, the phenomenon is about getting rid of things that don’t spark joy. This life-transforming approach to decluttering started with Kondo’s bestselling book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, and continued with her Netflix show, Tidying Up with Marie Kondo. Kondo’s manifesto is about letting go of things that you don’t need. The process goes beyond that though and taps into your lifestyle. You’re asked to imagine what kind of life you want and what truly makes you happy. When you find the answers, you can let go of things.
The Netflix series became an instant hit, as people started saying goodbye to old dishes, never-worn clothes, and all sorts of odds-and-ends that didn’t spark joy. Thrift stores were besieged with items immediately, as many were moved to donate their belongings. Some stores weren’t able to keep up with the demand, and started restricting donations, according to Time. The phenomenon wasn’t just in the states either, as some Australian charities weren’t able to accept donations after being overwhelmed.
People are still discovering KonMari today and thrift stores, charities, and other organizations may be overwhelmed with stuff, which means that not all of your donated goods may find a home. To make sure your discarded items are appreciated, here’s what you can do with them!
Before You Donate
Before you donate anything to a charity, thrift store, or organization, check and see if they’re accepting donations. Be sure you check for their specific wants, as well as anything they can’t take. Most charities and organizations will post a wish list of specific items.
If you aren’t sure if they’ll accept it, contact them and ask. Most places don’t accept used mattresses, broken electronics, old computers, and unsellable items.
Homeless Shelter and Centers
I KonMaried my kitchen and removed 2 boxes worth of pots, pans, and cups. They were still usable, but I didn’t use them enough to warrant keeping them. I happened to see that a local shelter was looking for items to use in homes for people transitioning from the street or shelter to a home, so I donated them there. Consider donating the following:
Good condition pots and pans
Glasses and other drinkware
Small countertop appliances in working condition
Shelters with women and children can often use toys, old cell phones, clean packaged makeup, linens, children’s books and games. A shelter near you might also want clean used handbags and clothes.
Animal shelters can use your goods! Many animal shelters will publish a wish list but there are other items that are of use.
Linens, towels, and washcloths (gently used)
Leashes, collars, brushes, bowls
Crates and carriers in good condition
Some animal shelters have thrift stores benefiting their programs, so you may be able to donate household goods, books, toys, and other items they can sell.
Rummage Sales and Yard Sales
Rummage sales are another way to get rid of your goods, especially when the school year is over. Churches, animal shelters, and local groups may have sales to raise money for supplies, camps, and other needs. Check their websites, your community boards, and Facebook to find any donation solicitations in your area.
Most will accept:
Media such as books, DVDs, CDs, vinyl
Children’s puzzles and toys (ensure they’re in good condition)
Dress for Success
Dress for Success collects nearly new professional clothing for women in all sizes. You will need to launder or dry clean it before donation. All items must not be in need of repair. Locate an office near you to donate the following.
Skirts and pants
Flats and pumps
Handbags and totes
Jewelry, belts, and scarves
New packaged fragrances
They don’t accept formal wear, open cosmetics, sweatshirts, sleepwear, and other non-workwear items.
I love my library, and one of the best things about living in Cincinnati is the giant annual library sale. They sell literally thousands of books of every subject and it’s a grand event that lasts for days. The library accepts gently-used books, CDs, and DVDs then sells them to help the Friends foundation. Your own library will likely take these:
Fiction and non-fiction books
Hardback and paperbacks, without broken spines, torn pages or markings
DVDs, CDs, audiobooks, and vinyl records
Prisoner Library Groups
Prisoners need to read too, and there are several groups across the country that accept book donations. Books need to be in readable condition, and often the prisons won’t allow hardbacks. Before donating, be sure you check on what’s acceptable.
Most organizations will want the following, though you will need to check for their specific needs.
Fiction and nonfiction
Trade skill books
Real estate books
Arts and crafts books
Books in Spanish
You’re generally forbidden to donate anything that contains marking. You also can’t donate magazines or books with spiral bindings. Check the regulations before sending.
International Book Organizations
Your book donations can make a big difference outside the U.S. as well. International book organizations collect books from all over the country to give to eager readers in other countries. There’s usually an office in the United States and clearly explain how to donate.
Don’t neglect nursing homes as a recipient of donated goods. They can use all kinds of things for entertainment and comfort. Your local nursing home can tell you what they will and won’t take, however, these items are typically wanted:
Unused crossword puzzle books
Cards and stationary
Large print books
Puzzles and board games
CDs and audiobooks
Adult coloring books and coloring supplies
If you want to get rid of it and give it a good home, Freecycle is a great spot to go. Freecycle is a grassroots network with nearly 10 million members around the world. You browse for your local regional group, then you can offer items for free. You’re also able to post for wanted items. You’ll be helping people in your community and you never know what someone might need or post.
I’ve used Freecycle to get a brand-new yoga mat, a set of dishes, and multiple magazine collections. I even got a free digital camera for when mine went on the fritz. Save your stuff from the landfill and rehome it today. Sign up with Freecycle.
No Freecycle in your area? Try a local sales or free page on Facebook. Or post it on Craigslist.
What about those items that aren’t completely ruined but that you don’t need anymore? Various companies, organizations, and programs are perfect for those.
Crayola – Crayola will accept used markers from any brand. Local schools partner with Crayola for the ColorCycle program to collect these markers and repurpose them. Participating schools can ship the markers with a prepaid FedEx label. Look for a program in your local U.S. or Canada school, or start one!
Staples – Staples stores in Canada have drop-off boxes in over 300 locations. You can recycle any used writing instrument. Find a box at the program site now. US locations have donation boxes for unwanted electronics like laptops, keyboards, copies, camcorders, tablets, and many other electronics. Browse the complete list and see if you can make your home a little lighter.
Hasbro – Hasbro has a toy recycling program with TerraCycle. The program accepts all Hasbro toys and games like board games, electronic toys, action figures, plush, and more. Browse the list for allowed items and sign up to send your items into the program.
Turn it Into Cash
You can also turn unwanted items into cash. Consider selling your books and media to Half-Price Books or a local bookstore. Put things up on Ebay, Poshmark, Mercari, or Facebook Marketplace. Just be aware these websites are flooded and you may not get the attention to sell the item.
Before you throw your belongings into the trash, be sure you see if you can find a home for them using these suggestions. It’s a win-win for you, the recipient, and the environment.