Tips for clearing out your home: Where to donate, shred and dump


Is it time to lighten your load? I’ve been on a major purging kick this summer, going through the garage, closets and cabinets, and under the bed — basically anywhere clutter has collected — and getting rid of all kinds of things. I’ve also been keen to avoid throwing unwanted items in the garbage because I’d rather not have my junk adding to the landfill. To that end, I’ve found some great resources for taking my castoffs so that they can find new life, or at least be disposed of properly.

Clothes

There must have been a clothing donation surplus this summer because I actually had trouble giving away mine. The local thrift shop wasn’t taking donations, and when I ventured farther to a Goodwill that did take clothes, I was disheartened to see my stack of clothing would be added to a 14-foot pile in a warehouse — not exactly where I wanted to see my designer duds end up.

Fortunately, I did find some other worthy places for my unwanted clothing. Multiple trips to several thrift stores convinced me that smaller enterprises such as the National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW) Thrift Shops (ncjwla.org) and the BTS Thrift Store in Culver City (btsthriftstore.com), a division of the addiction treatment center Beit T’Shuvah, appreciated my goods more. I was also swayed by the shopping experience at the stores themselves — both had great inventory and nothing seemed “junky” at all.

If you have clothing you think might be worth some money, consider selling it to Buffalo Exchange (buffaloexchange.com). Simply bring in your freshly laundered items to the buying counter, and they’ll appraise them and offer you cash for them. A similar store is Crossroads Trading (crossroadstrading.com), but I’ve had better luck with Buffalo Exchange taking my clothes.

You also can donate business attire you no longer wear to an organization such as Clothes the Deal (clothesthedeal.org), which provides low-income men and women with professional attire for job interviews. Check the website for a drop-off location near you.

Books

All my books are precious to me, so I want to make sure that when I give them away they will find good homes.

As a fan of The Last Bookstore in downtown Los Angeles, I was happy to see that it has a program called Re-Book It (rebookit.org), in which it either collects unwanted books and resells them at its store (usually for $1); distributes them to local libraries, charities, hospitals and schools; or recycles them. The store schedules pickups for your used books rather than taking drop-offs, so check the website for more information.

One of the most convenient resources for donating books, CDs and DVDs is American Book Drive (americanbookdrive.com) and its collection bins. Designated organizations receive a portion of the proceeds from the eventual sale of the books, so it’s a good way to help a local nonprofit or school. For example, the collection bin in my neighborhood benefits the Santa Monica-Malibu Education Foundation. Other participating organizations include the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Los Angeles and the Susan G. Komen organization.

Baby items

As your baby grows up, all the clothes and furniture she has outgrown take up valuable room in the house. So what do you do if you don’t have friends or family about to be new parents who can take the stuff off your hands?

Baby2Baby (baby2baby.org) provides low-income children, from newborn to 12 years old,  with diapers, clothing and basic necessities. Check its website for items it will accept, and for drop-off locations in your area.

To get outdated and potentially unsafe baby car seats off the road, Toys R Us and Target host trade-in events at which you can turn in any car seat (even if you bought it elsewhere) and receive a merchandise credit to purchase something else. These events happen throughout the year, so ask your local store about the next one scheduled.

Paper shredding

If you have documents dating back to the Paleolithic period (or even the 2000s), you have many shredding options. Shredding services will come to your door, or you can go to them.

If you don’t have a lot to shred, most office supply stores such as Staples and Office Depot have locked shredding bins in which you place your documents, and they are taken off-site for disposal.

But I’ve largely taken advantage of community shredding events. Various cities offer either free or low-cost shredding. For example, Santa Monica offers quarterly free shredding events. And Culver City has them twice a month with a price of $30 for  seven boxes. Check your local community paper for announcements.

Used paint, hazardous waste and electronics

A lot of my clutter was old paint, cleaning supplies, used batteries and broken electronics. I knew enough not to dump them in the trash bin, but how was I going to safely dispose of them?

My favorite find during my purging was the S.A.F.E. Collection Center at UCLA. S.A.F.E. stands for solvents, automotive, flammables and electronics. Aerosol cans? They take them. Fluorescent tubes? Yes. Unused medications? They take those, too. The service is absolutely free. You drive up, people in jumpsuits take everything out of your car, and you’re on your way. Although it’s located on the UCLA campus, the service is not affiliated with the university and is free to all residents of Los Angeles County. There are six additional locations throughout the Southland (lacitysan.org).

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