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Decluttering 101: Where to Take Your Unwanted Items in the New Year

Happy New Year! Is one of your new year’s resolutions to declutter?  Are you trying to figure out where to take your outdated technology, old shoes and clothes, or other things you no longer need or use?  Nowadays, there are many options, but here are some ideas.


  1. Staples and Best Buy have e-waste recycling programs.  We recently got rid of our old printer, old tablets and old phones this way.

  2. In the past, we donated our old phones to women’s shelters.

  3. Your state’s version of the Department Environmental Protection may list places where you can recycle.  In New Jersey, we have a Division of Sustainable Waste Management under our Department of Environmental Protection(who knew?).   

  4. Your county may even have designated e-waste recycling days.

  5. My county’s 4-H has an electronics recycling fundraiser to help cover the costs of maintaining the fairgrounds, buildings on the fairgrounds, insurance and utilities.

  6. Home Depot has a drop off box to recycle old Christmas lights.

Clothes and Shoes

  1. Zappos For Good is Zappos' recycling program for jeans and old shoes that I’ve used and is super easy.  The Cotton Blue Jeans Go Green and the Native Shoes Remix Project.  The Jeans project recycles not only jeans, but meal kit insulation!  The Shoe Remix project takes old shoes and recycles them into things like playground material.

  2. Nike also has a shoe recycling program for, “when your shoes can't handle another mile, trip up the court, or cut across the field…” 

  3. A friend of mine uses For Days’ Take Back Bag. For Days is a clothing reseller website.  To recycle your clothes, buy a  Take Back Bag for $20.  Fill up the bag, scan the QR code and send it back.  For a limited time, For Days is offering $50 in Closet Cash when you buy three Take Back Bags.

Other Stuff

  1. Old bedding and towels: 

    1. Homeless shelters and churches may take bedding and towels.  If the items aren’t in good shape, they may use them for cleaning rags.  Ask your church or shelter what donations it needs or accepts.

    2. Animal shelters will also take old bedding and towels.  They may also take donations of pet supplies, food in original bags, office supplies.  Check with your local animal shelter to find out what donations it accepts.

  2. Old suitcases: 

    1. This may take a bit of investigation, but if the suitcase is in decent shape and still works, some foster care agencies will take suitcase donations.  According to the website Foster Success,   “Some foster care agencies may have a need for luggage for kids, but not all do. If you aren’t sure what the need is in your community take 2 minutes and search “Foster Care Agency” and your zip code or city name. Contact one of the agencies listed before just showing up to donate luggage – or anything else. And if you make a donation, please be mindful that 20-year-old, ripped or stained luggage does not do any more to help with self-esteem than a trash bag does.

    2. LoadUp:  Will take unusable suitcases, as well as other stuff, like mattresses, couches, grills, junk…for a price.

  3. Terracycle’s recycling program. Terracyle has options for recycling items that are hard to recycle.  It also has a free recycling program.  You need to sign up with each program individually, and each program has its requirements, but you can earn rewards points that you can redeem for, “ a donation to a school, charity, or nonprofit of your choice.”

  4. Goodwill and Salvation Army:  Check with your local donation center to find out what it will and won’t take.  The last thing you want is to find out that what you donated ended up in a landfill anyway.


Again, this isn’t an exhaustive list, but hopefully, it will get us all thinking about recycling something rather than just throwing it in a landfill.

*Hey there! This blog post is all my own work, but I got some help on the title from AI.


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