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.


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 ( and the BTS Thrift Store in Culver City (, 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 ( 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 (, 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 (, which provides low-income men and women with professional attire for job interviews. Check the website for a drop-off location near you.


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 (, 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 ( 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 ( 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 (

Tikkunfest brings much-needed TLC to Pico-Robertson [VIDEO]

Volunteers spent five hours uprooting dead trees and planting new ones; setting up herb planters in front of stores; repainting curbs, poles and fire hydrants; sweeping mulch and dirt off the sidewalks; and lugging heavy garbage bags in the predominantly Orthodox neighborhood of Pico-Robertson in West Los Angeles.

The Jewish community needs a clean Pico-Robertson, Rabbi Yonah Bookstein said during Tikkunfest, an Oct. 24 community service event organized by his group, Jewlicious.

“This is the thriving heart of much of the Jewish community, a place with shuls and schools and restaurants and stores,” he said. “It really needs some TLC.” 

Between 100 and 150 volunteers worked on projects along 10 blocks of Pico Boulevard, between Doheny Drive and La Cienega Boulevard, organizers said.

Most volunteers cited a similar reason for participating: a desire to give of themselves to something bigger than themselves.

“I wanted to come because it’s a great way to give back to the Jewish community, to give to the community in general,” said Samantha Eddahabi, a Santa Monica College student, who knelt close to the ground on Pico Boulevard with traffic whizzing by as she repainted a curb’s red zone. “It’s a major mitzvah.”

Rabbi David Bluman of Kadima Day School in West Hills said he came “to give back to the community, to do some tzedakah [charity]. I live in the neighborhood, and it’s time to clean it up.”

In addition to cleanup and repair, volunteers also assisted seniors and collected clothing and food for the needy.

Event sponsors included The Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles and City Council member Paul Koretz’s office.

Koretz, whose District 5 seat includes Pico-Robertson, dropped by to show support for the clean-up.

“The Pico-Robertson area, I think, sometimes looks a little run down and needs to be cleaned up. This will give it a shiny new face and it’ll also give folks in the community a chance to participate,” Koretz said. “Especially in this era where government services are being cut and the city’s budget is hundreds of millions of dollars short, I think the community stepping up and helping out is critically important.”

Story continues after the jump.

Noah Bleich, founder of L.A. Green Mile Project, an environmental group that partnered with Jewlicious, said that Tikkunfest shows how small community groups can organize service events with cooperation from businesses and the city — a bottom-up approach to social change.

Bleich said he wants to “turn Pico Boulevard, from La Cienega to Beverly Drive, [into] a green mile, where, ecologically outside and ecologically inside, community and businesses and government work together.”

After hours of work, the volunteers returned to the event staging site — a parking lot near Pico and Robertson boulevards — for a concert featuring the band Cousin Junebug and Jewish rapper Kosha Dillz.

Despite organizers’ best outreach efforts, they were not able to attract enough people to fulfill Tikkunfest’s ultimate goal, which was to have volunteers work approximately 18 blocks of Pico-Robertson, Bleich said.

Bookstein said volunteers planned to gather again Oct. 31 to continue beautifying the area, and that his group will continue to make planters available to businesses in the neighborhood. 

Volunteer Neda Zarabi said she participated for the sake of “tikkun olam, [to] repair the world,” adding that people should not mistake the concept as merely a cliché. “It’s one of the foundations of Judaism. You have to make it real to not be a cliché; that’s how you make it tangible.”

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