Donate, Don't Toss

Take a walk through a back alley in your Chicago neighborhood on the last day of the month, and you’re bound to notice a few casualties of move-out day. Empty bookshelves await trash pick-up, old muffin tins peek out of garbage bins. But when you want to get rid of something, whether you’re moving or not, donating it instead of throwing it away keeps it out of the landfill and helps make sure it can be used again. Win, win.

One of the perks of living in a city as large as Chicago is that it’s home to so many resources for donating items to give them new life. Though dropping items off at your nearest thrift shop en masse is certainly one route for easy decluttering, it can be worth taking a few extra minutes to sort items and deliver them individually to specific spots. Ensuring that your items find the right new home means that they’re more likely to be picked up and used again.

A few of our favorite resources for donating items beyond the traditional secondhand shop:

The WasteShed

The WasteShed is a nonprofit store in Humboldt Park that accepts donations of craft, art, and school supplies, and re-sells them at a lower price to be reused. Think stationery, markers, yarn, fabric, board games, three-ring binders, and so much more. They even stock a large section of school supplies like pens, folders, and poster boards that are free for teachers to take.

 Little Free Libraries

You’ve probably walked past a Little Free Library without even realizing it! Little Free Libraries are small outdoor boxes – often shaped like miniature houses – where you can leave a book or take a book, for free. Search their map to find out if there’s one in your neighborhood. You can also find more ideas for responsibly donating larger quantities of books in this post.

Chicago Period Project

This nonprofit organization is on a mission to provide menstrual supplies to those who may not be able to afford them, including many students across Chicago Public Schools. They accept donations of pads and tampons; even if the box is open and partially used, as long as the products inside are still individually wrapped, you can donate them here.

Working Bikes

Working Bikes accepts donations of bikes, bike parts, and accessories, which they use to repair and rebuild bikes that they can donate back into the Chicago community. Learn more about what they accept and where to drop off your bikes or parts here.

Furniture pick-up

Many secondhand stores offer furniture pick-up services for those looking to donate larger items. Try New Elephant Resale Shop in Lincoln Park, or simply call your nearest secondhand store and ask what their policy is.

Zero Waste Chicago

The website of this nonprofit offers a map of locations where you can donate or recycle items ranging from clothing to sneakers to electronics. Check out what’s in your neighborhood, and get donating!

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