What to Donate Where in the East Bay

How to Get Rid of Stuff and Help People at the Same Time

It feels great to get rid of stuff you don’t need anymore—and even better to pass it along to someone who needs it. It’s all part of my personal and professional work: getting the word out and benefiting the community. Please share this list, and send any additions my way. And check out more about my consulting work before you go!

Toiletries. A Friendly Place women’s shelter, 2298 San Pablo, Oakland, 510-451-8923. Daily 9 am-eve.

Medical supplies. Recares. In the below-ground parking garage of 2619 Broadway, Oakland, 510-251-2273, www.homecares.org. Drop off on Fridays (new day!) 12-4 and 2nd and 4th Saturdays.

Any textiles (old socks, holey T-shirts, torn pillowcases…). Three cheers for H&M’s Garment Collection Program, which takes any textiles  (any condition, any brand) and repurposes them for the appropriate use: from resale clothes to car insulation. Drop any bag of textiles at an H&M near you and get 15% off what you buy there.

Professional clothes. Wardrobe for Opportunity. Drop off at Bank of the West in downtown Oakland (Montclair is no longer participating) or other locations, 2127 Broadway, Oakland (parking is in the back, go left on 22nd St.). M-Th 9-5, F 9-6, Sa 9-1.

Pillows. This one’s my favorite, thanks to a suggestion on Nextdoor. Take your old lumpy pillows to the Oakland Zoo and give the chimps an enrichment activity. Just go to the zoo and tell them you have a donation for Animal Care. They will direct you to the green gate just before the lower entrance.

Linens, towels. Old sheets, blankets, towels, bath mats without rubber backings are always welcomed at animal shelters, including Oakland Animal Services (1101 29th Ave., Oakland, 510-535-5602) and Berkeley Humane Society (2700 9th St., Berkeley, 510-845-7735).

Anything a teacher or artist might want. East Bay Depot for Creative Reuse. See their donations guidelines. Drop your donations at the loading dock at the rear of the store, Shattuck Ave. between 47th and 46th Streets. Daily 11-5.

Electronic waste. Anything electronic, working or not, can go to eWaste Collective (formerly Alameda County Computer Resource Center) or other electronic waste one-day collection sites. 620 Page St., Berkleley, 415-883-1428. M-F 9-5, Sa 10-5. Best Buy also recycles many forms of e-waste, from appliances to old cameras to dead batteries; check out their list. (Thanks to Mason, Diane, and their group of eco-savvy teens in Colorado for sending me that one!)

Clothes, furniture, etc. Many choices in this arena, but important to know the Goodwill is actually a for-profit enterprise with lots of reasons not to choose them for your donations. I chose Out of the Closet in Oakland, 238 East 18th St., Oakland, 510-251-8671. M-Sa 10-7, Su 10-6.

Anything that Out Of the Closet doesn’t take, including toys (and stuffed animals, which almost nowhere else will take) and even undies, I then drop at Goodwill, despite the caveats. Multiple locations, but I live near the one in the Laurel at 3525 MacArthur Blvd, Oakland, 510-530-5267. M-Sa 9-9, Su 11-7.

Old paint, cosmetics, anything you wouldn’t want to put in the Bay. Please help the environment and take all this stuff to the Hazardous Waste Drop-Off Site. It’s free, it’s easy, it’s right next door to Pump It Up. You don’t even get out of the car. Fill out the required form before you go. 2100 East 7th Street, Oakland. W-F 9-2:30, Sa 9-4. PaintCare lists additional places that take old paint.

Expired or unused pharmaceuticals.  Don’t let painkillers get in the wrong hands, or expired medicines get into the Bay. Beyond the Hazardous Waste Drop-Off Site, EBMUD has other disposal locations around the area (from senior centers to the State building downtown) for safe disposal of unused drugs.

Many things. Oakland Museum White Elephant Sale is a great donation destination and benefits the wonderful Oakland Museum of CA. Their guidelines and list lets you know what they do and do not take. Call 510-839-5919 to schedule a pickup.

Art supplies, household items, anything usable where you don’t mind not getting a tax receipt. Free Up Oakland, A really cool local place that puts “reuse before recycle” into practice. Go there to get something for free, drop something off, or make art. 2809 MacArthur Blvd. Oakland. Th-Su 12-4.

Salvage. Omegha or Urban Ore take, or even buy, many types of things. Call them first to find out criteria.

Shredding. Now you’ve gone through your papers but it’s too much for your home shredder. Drive right into Automatic Response Systems and they will shred while you watch. $7/box. 1461 Eastshore Highway, Berkeley, 800-380-8202. M-Sa 8-5.

Running shoes. Transports, on College Avenue in Rockridge (6014 College Ave, Oakland; M-Sa 10-6, Su 12-5), has a donation bin.

Rags. “Textile recycling” appears to be gaining steam, at H&M and beyond. There is no reason for textiles to end up in landfill. A tiny amount of cotton can actually be composted (just cut out the elastic, which won’t break down). Even old rags, or something on its way to that, can become teddy bear stuffing. If you can’t make it to H&M, drop your worn-out linens and clothing at one of those many clothing donation boxes around town. If the clothes can’t be donated, the textiles get recycled.

Stopwaste has a tool for other places you can recycle or donate things. Berkeley Parents Network is another good resource.

If you have edits or suggestions, please send them along. Find out more about my work while you are on the site. Thanks for helping reduce the landfill and helping our community at the same time!