Brainstorming holiday presents? Here are a few gift options, all of which are kind to you, your budget, & the planet.
Each idea also reduces clutter, either directly—like giving your used clothing to seasonal drives—or indirectly: e.g., event tickets don’t take up space or require gift wrapping.
Zero Waste DC is a wonderful resource. Type in any unwanted items--e.g., hangers, old clothes, outdated electronics--and the site tells you how to dispose of them in a safe, eco-friendly way. The site even includes links to local charities that will accept your item(s)!
Zero Waste DC also provides a massive Google Docs spreadsheet, listing stores and nonprofits where you can shop for used items, donate them, or get items repaired.
Finally--and my personal favorite--you can even play a DC-specific, online computer game (no downloads or special gaming system required!) to learn more about disposing of unwanted items. This is a fun way to teach your children about recycling and being kind to the earth. Check out the screen capture below!
#CarbonDatingYourCarryon #DidYouKnow #OrganizationObservation
You can often make a pretty good guess about when a work/school bag was manufactured, based on what technology it was designed to hold.
Does your bag have a pocket for a portable CD-ROM player ("Discman")? An iPod pocket? A laptop sleeve, tablet sleeve, both? A zip-up case for wireless headphones?
None of the above, because none of those technologies had been invented yet?
Older bags can still be useful: those padded Discman pockets are just right to prevent a sandwich from getting squished! :)
Ensure that every bag, regardless of its age, is meeting your or your child's current needs.
A site like ebags.com or backpacks.com can help you get a sense of your options and filter bags by your exact preferences: everything from whether the bag includes a water bottle pocket to if it can fit your 17" laptop.*
Can you find what you need in your bag, quickly and easily? Is your bag supporting you in staying organized?
If not, consider #donating the bag and re-evaluating what you actually carry.
I can help you think critically about both your possessions and options for transporting them.
[Your donated bag likely has the perfect number, size, and arrangement of compartments... for somebody else!]
*No endorsement of either site is implied.
What can you do with old clothes that aren't in good enough shape to donate? What about non-clothing fabrics in poor condition, like worn sheets, tablecloths, and curtains?
H&M will recycle your textiles for free, from any brand and in any condition! Your unwanted items can be turned into insulation and other useful fiber products.
Just bring your stuff to any H&M store counter and ask for the recycling box.
* Bonus: you'll get a discount coupon off a future H&M purchase!
NOTE: I haven't received any compensation from H&M for this post. I've used their program myself and feel confident recommending it.
Often, when people think of clothing donation, they think of Goodwill. Once you've sorted through clothes you don't wear, however, there are other worthy organizations that would be thrilled to receive them.
The organizations below won't sell your donated items; rather, they'll give them to members of our community who are most in need.
Your donations will make a huge difference for local organizations providing vital services! #StreamlineYourClosetANDSupportYourCommunity
1) Used professional attire: Contact organizations that help with job readiness, such as DC's Suited for Success (all genders) or Dress for Success (women's).
2) Used winter clothes, all ages and genders: Check your local homeless outreach organizations as cold weather approaches. (DC option: Thrive D.C.)
3) Outgrown school uniforms: Contact the social worker or guidance counselor at your child's school to see if they keep a clothing closet for families in need.
4) Unworn women's and children's clothes: Did your baby outgrow clothing gifts before wearing them? Did your child or teen receive a gift of clothing that's not their style? Did you buy something you couldn't return--only to later realize it wasn't your style?
Your local domestic violence center is almost certainly looking for new clothes. In DC, try My Sister's Place.
Check here to learn more about what DC organizations accept which items.
Steven Cohen is the owner of Streamlined by Steven, a professional organizing company serving Washington, D.C. and parts of Maryland.