Instead of tossing your torn or stained T-shirts in the trash (where they’ll head straight to a landfill and sit there for decades), consider donating them to the Goodwill. The nonprofit won’t sell them as clothes, but will convert them into rags that shoppers can purchase by the bag. If your local Goodwill doesn’t have a rag program, they might be able to send your ratty shirts to a textile-recycling center. These are our favorite 14 thrift store shopping secrets.
Old greeting cards
When the holiday season ends, it’s tough to decide what to do with all those greeting cards. Tossing them in the trash seems wrong, but keeping them around can create a ton of clutter. Instead, donate them to the St. Jude’s Ranch for Children. Everybody wins: Children at the nonprofit get to craft the old cards into new ones (and receive payment for their work), and the cards are sold to support programs and services for abused, neglected, and homeless children and families.
If you can’t bear to wear the same costume two Halloweens in a row, donate the old ones to the Goodwill. According to the nonprofit’s website, they’ll take costumes at any time of the year—although we guess they’d be most appreciated around September. These are the things thrift stores really don’t want from you.
If you, like many Americans, have a box of stray wires sitting around and no idea what they attach to or how they work, consider donating them. The Goodwill of Northern New England says they’ll take the wires, which contain copper, and recycle them. Call and ask if your Goodwill branch can do the same.
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Wire clothes hangers
Piles of wire dry cleaning hangers can muck up the look of even the most organized closet. Fortunately, dry cleaners are often happy to take the hangers back. If yours won’t, bring your collection to a scrap-metal recycler. It’s way better than adding them to the millions of wire hangers that head to the landfill each year.
Coffee mugs have a pesky way of multiplying over the years. What’s more, they take up a lot of cabinet space, especially if you use the same go-to mug every morning. Instead of throwing away the unwanted mugs, bring them to a thrift store that sells housewares. The store should be able to find them a new, more appreciative home. If you don’t want to donate, try one of these genius ways to get cash for your clutter.
A single shoe
According to the Goodwill of Northern New England, the nonprofit will accept your single shoes in the hopes of finding their match. “Goodwill NNE has a sort of orphan shoe program,” they write. “We sell them to a person who buys bunches of orphan shoes and pairs them with a similar long-lost brother and resells them.” What better love story than that?
Donating your car is a big deal, so you’ll want to make sure you choose a worthy charity. First, make sure the charity is thorough with its paperwork—you’ll need to formally sign over your car to them to make sure you’re not held accountable for any parking tickets or crimes. These are the 21 common things you should never buy at a garage sale.
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Even if you think your eyeglass prescription is too specific to help someone in need, it’s worth it to donate them anyway. The Lions Club International has a special Lions Recycle for Sight program, where people can donate their old eyeglasses to those in need. Head to their website for information on dropping them off or mailing them in.
Over the years, your child has probably developed quite the collection of stuffed animals. If they’ve begun to take over the house, consider donating a few—it’ll free up space and show kids the importance of charity. The Salvation Army, the Humane Society, the Goodwill, and Stuffed Animals for Emergencies will all take those gently used plushies. These are the 13 things thrift stores won’t tell you.