When I think about Earth Day I think about the three “Rs” recycle, reuse and reduce. We’ve touch a little on how you can make your move more eco-friendly, but what do you do when you’re ready to donate some of your belongings to charity. Knowing where to begin and how to pick a charitable organization will get you on your way to recycling your old belongings, so someone else can reuse them, and reducing your carbon footprint.
It might not seem like much but now days many people are using “pre-loved” items in their homes, as the saying goes “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” No matter what you are donating if it is in good condition someone will always be able to find a good use to the item. When you donate your excess belongings you aren’t contributing more junk into our already filled landfills.
By doing some research you will find that there are several charitable organizations in your area that will accept your unwanted items. A well known one organization like The Salvation Army has been around since 1867 and will give you peace of mind knowing that your items will be properly donated. The Internal Revenue Service is also a good place to search when looking for a legitimate local charity to donate your belongings to. The IRS keeps a database of all organizations registered as charities. You can also check your state’s records by going to http://www.nasconet.org/.
You may also want to contact the charity and ask if they require any payments for accepting donations and certain policies that are observed when donating items. When dropping items off you may be asked to package them in a specific manner or some items may have a specific time that they can be dropped off. Clean clothing and shoes prior to donating them; separate the clothing by season, and label the boxes with the correct information about its contents.
When donating kitchen items such as sharp utensils, wrap the items in bubble wrap and label the box indicating that there are sharp objects inside. Wrap dishes, pots, pans, and glassware in newspaper to protect them from breaking, label the box as fragile so items aren’t accidentally broken during transport or unpacking.
Furniture should also be cleaned before bringing it to the charity. Do not forget to include extra pillows and cushions that belong with the items you are donating. Also ask the charity if they restore or repair furniture, before throwing away a piece that might need some extra car. If the piece is beyond repair the charity will usually refuse to accept the donation, so it doesn’t hurt to ask.
Electronics can also be donated, most organizations that will be able to accept your PDA, digital cameras, iPods, and cell phones. Be careful to erase your memory cards and delete any personal photos, e-mails, text messages or personal information stored on the items before donating them. If you want to donate a computer check with the charity on their policy some may require that all of the documents, disks, and cables be included along with the keyboard and mouse. If that is the care try to package everything carefully to avoid damage and label each item so the new owner can properly use the computer.
Books can be donated to locally charities, schools and libraries. Check with schools, libraries, bookstores and daycares to see if they are in need of books. Some used bookstores will offer to buy the books from you at a discounted rate either offering you cash or store credit, although this isn’t a charitable donation it is still a great way to find a new home for your old books.
Knowing that your belongings are going to a good cause should make you feel good, which is why finding a reputable charitable organization is so important. Donating is also a great way to reduce your carbon footprint and recycle some of your old things. There are also tax benefits that you can reap by donating so be sure to ask the charity for a receipt and all of the necessary donation forms that need to be filled out. Donating your belongings to charity is just one way you can take action this Earth Day, check out the Earth Day 2010 Action Center to see more ways you can help.
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