How to (Responsibly) Purge Your Belongings in SF
So you’ve decided to take the plunge and Kon-Mari your belongings? Welcome to the club. Before you lay out the contents of your wardrobe on your bed, there’s one step we don’t believe gets enough attention, and that’s what happens to your items after you’ve thanked them and prepared to send them on their way... to where exactly are you sending them? The unfortunate truth is that the impact of consumption is not just the implication of how things are produced, shipped and packaged, but where they go once they have served their purpose. While taking care in how you discard your unwanted items is an additional step (ok, we’re not going to lie, it’s possibly the most difficult one) we’ve compiled a list of Bay Area resources to help you do so responsibly. Once you’ve finished, you’ll be able to take a look around your joyful space and feel good about everything you’ve accomplished, guilt-free.
Here’s what to do with your items by category, plus a few general tips, while our list was created with the Bay Area in mind many of these charities (or similar ones) can be found nationwide.
Accepts: clean, like new clothing of all types
St Anthony’s free clothing program gives your donations directly to those in need and accepts everything from children’s clothing to workwear.
Accepts: prom dresses, party dresses and accessories
Donate that bridesmaids or party dress you wore once to the Princess Project which provides free dresses and accessories for prom to teens who can’t afford them.
Accepts: suits and professional apparel
Dress for Success provides women with professional attire and support for entering the workforce.
Accepts: Interview appropriate clothing and accessories
Wardrobe for opportunity provides its low-income recipients with interview and office appropriate clothing to aid in their ability to find a job.
Accepts: clothing, household items and furniture
Ninety- six cents of every dollar made by this thrift store go to HIV and AIDS-related services.
Both stores are known for selecting on trend, seasonally appropriate items in near mint condition so keep that in mind before hauling your stuff in to be picked through. The Wasteland will pay out 35% of the sale price of items on the spot and Buffalo Exchange you can opt for 30% of the selling price in cash or 50% in store credit.
Give Away/ Sell
It’s become easier than ever to resell your clothing or accessories online using apps like Poshmark and Thread-up. We recommend sticking with designer and name brand labels in near mint condition for this one. If you have any luxury items to sell, consider consigning them with the RealReal, they authenticate each piece and list it for you.
Donate for Store Credit
Many stores will collect your unwanted clothing in exchange for a store credit. Check out our post on 10 Brands that Reward You for Recycling Your Unwanted Goods.
My personal favorite way to purge clothing is by participating in a clothing swap! My local moms' group organizes one a few times a year, and it’s a great way to let go of what you no longer need while finding a few new things you love.
Books & Media
Donate your books or media (DVDs, CDs) to support your local library, items will be resold through their bookstores and book sale events to benefit the SFPL.
College textbooks can be difficult to part with even if you know you will never crack them open again because they just cost so much and they can be even more difficult to know what to do with because they can quickly become out of date. By shipping your used textbooks to Recycle Textbooks, they can be distributed to those who need them. To save on shipping, they advise using USPS Media Mail for reduced rates.
Give Away/ Sell
Described as a book sharing movement, Little Free Libraries are book-sharing boxes where you can leave the books you’re finished with and take what you like. Use the map on their site to find one near you or start your own.
Library Magazine Swap
Our local library branch (Noe) has an informal magazine swap set up on a cart near the entrance with a leave one take one policy. You can check in with the location nearest you to see if they do the same.
Local Used Bookstores
Check in with your local used bookstore as many have similar consignment models as clothing shops. Dog Eared Books on Valencia street is one of our favorite places to trade in used books for store credit.
Kid & Baby Gear
Accepts: diapers & wipes, unopened/unexpired formula, baby clothes and maternity clothes
If you have a stockpile of diapers in sizes your child has outgrown or are ready to part with your maternity wardrobe, or baby’s outgrown clothing, the homeless prenatal program will put these items directly in the hands of a family in need.
Accepts: toys, blankets, strollers, car seats, coats and more in new or gently used condition
Run out of a home in the sunset on a volunteer basis SF smiles distributes donations both directly and through local organizations.
Accepts: new books, toys and blankets
If you have any unused toys, books or blankets to donate, say your child receives three copies of the same book for their birthday or you’ve received roughly twenty-five receiving blankets for your new arrival. Project Night Night creates a package with a book, toy and stuffed animal for a homeless child.
Accepts: toys and games, new stuffed animals
Donate toys and games to the SF Firefighter Toy Program to be distributed to children in need and victims of natural disasters.
If you have a stroller in good condition that you’re ready to part with consider bringing it to Stroller Spa to be cleaned up and consigned for a 60/40 split with the shop.
Chloe’s Closet accept children’s clothing as well as maternity and gently used toys and gear while Monkei Miles consigns children’s clothing and accessories with a bit more of a curated, boutique feel.
Give Away/ Sell
Buy Nothing (Family)
The Buy Nothing Project is a collection of groups where you can post items you have to give away for free or search for items your in need of yourself. There is an SF Families branch on Facebook which is the perfect place to post miscellaneous baby gear from hiking carriers to baby baths you can post (or find) virtually anything here.
Local Parent Group Classifieds
The classified section of your local parents' group is a great place to sell or give away the baby items you’re finished with while participating in a tangible way in your local parenting community. A side benefit is that you might just end up connecting with a new mom friend in the process. Golden Gate Mothers Group and Main Street Mama’s are a couple of our local favorites for this.
Resell your kids' clothing, accessories, and even their Halloween costume or Christmas jammies via this app, much like it’s grown up counterparts we recommend sticking with boutique and brand names in excellent condition for best results.
Furniture and Building Materials
Accepts: select furniture, appliances and building materials (please review current specifications)
Support Habitat for Humanity by donating accepted items for resale through their Restore shop.
Accepts: furniture, electronics and housewares, clothing and accessories and books
We love community thrift for many reasons, not least of which is its choose your charity model which lets you decide where the proceeds will go. They accept a variety of items but we are partial to them for furniture as a good portion of the store is dedicated to it and they offer furniture pickup when arranged in advance.
Accepts: art supplies and materials
If you’re looking to clean out your craft cupboard or are just ready to part with all the odds and ends you’ve been saving “just in case” consider donating to Scrap SF, a resource for artists and students in search of materials to work with.
If you’ve cleaned out your kitchen or pantry and are left with packages of unopened/unexpired food donating to your local food bank is one of the best ways to make sure it doesn’t go to waste.
Accepts: gently used towels and blankets as well as pet toys, crates and more
If you have towels or blankets to donate, your local pet shelter is a great option.
Here are a few general tips for items that don’t easily fit into one of the above categories.
If there are items that are beyond their useful life consider the material. If they fall into an easily recycled category you’re in luck, set it out and let Recology do the rest. Here’s a guide to what’s recyclable and what isn’t.
Fabric can now be put out with the recycling, they must be clean and placed in a clear bag per the instructions on the Recology site. Avoid the temptation to donate clothing that is visibly damaged, stained or torn to charities as it will only use up resources in forcing them to sort the items out and will likely end up in landfills.
You can schedule a free bulky item pickup through Recology a limited number of times a year for larger items like broken appliances, mattresses or furniture. You can also arrange for them to haul items from inside your home or residence for a fee.
If you have any suggestions for additional resources leave them in the comments below!