What to Donate (and Recycle) Where

How to Get Rid of Stuff and Help Your Community & the Environment

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, or recycle it. It’s all part of my personal and professional work: getting the word out and benefiting the community. The list is focused on the Bay Area, though some resources are national. Please share this list, and send additions my way.  Check out more about my consulting work before you go!

Any textiles (old socks, holey T-shirts…). Three cheers for H&M’s Garment Collection and Uniqlo’s Garment Recycling programs. They take any textiles  (any condition, any brand) and repurpose them for appropriate use: from donations to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to insulation to fuel pellets. Drop any textiles at an H&M or Uniqlo near you. H&M will even give you a coupon in return.

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. Drive to the zoo and tell them you have a donation for Animal Care. They will direct you to the green gate by the lower lot. See if your zoo does the same.

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). Probably other rescue organizations too; ask your favorite.

Art & school supplies, or anything teachers or artists might use. 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. Or they’ll come clear out a whole house for estate donations.

Kids’ clothes. I donate ours in good condition to Center for the Vulnerable Child at Children’s Hospital Oakland. They serve families in need. Contact me for info.

Professional clothes. Wardrobe for Opportunity is currently full up. In the meantime, they recommend ThredUp. Center for the Vulnerable Child also wants them; contact me.

Shoes, tennis balls, corks and more. Sports Basement has a great recycling program (and my cousin-in-law, Andy, is in this photo!). Bring in any kind of shoes, plus tennis balls, yoga mats, corks, empty propane tanks, and more. Check your local store page for more info.  For athletic shoes, Transports on College Avenue in Rockridge  (6014 College Ave, Oakland; M-Sa 10-6, Su 12-5; also on Solano in Albany) has a donation bin.

Electronic waste. Anything electronic, working or not, can go to eWaste Collective at 620 Page St., Berkeley, 415-883-1428 ; check the hours. For $10 they’ll wipe your old drive clean. City of Berkeley has free pickup service. They have a Novato location too. Best Buy also recycles many forms of e-waste (doesn’t matter where you got it), 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!) Deliah and the STEM Juniors Club recommend these tips for disposing of electronics and appliances.

Papers, and anything to destroy/shred. Now that you’ve purged your files, don’t break the home shredder. Berkeley Shreds will shred while you watch, for $8/box.  Hard drives, CDs get properly destroyed too. 1461 Eastshore Highway, Berkeley, 800-380-8202. M-Sa 8-5.

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 12-4 and 2nd and 4th Saturdays.

Avoid Goodwill. 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 it’s by the Lake at 238 East 18th St., 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), I do drop at Goodwill, despite the caveats.

Many things. Oakland Museum White Elephant Sale is a great donation destination and benefits the wonderful Oakland Museum of CA. They even pick up! Their guidelines list what they do and do not take.

Old paint, cosmetics, anything you wouldn’t want in the Bay. Please help the environment and take this stuff to the Hazardous Waste Drop-Off Site. It’s free, it’s easy, it’s next door to Pump It Up. (If you’re not in Oakland, find one near you.) You don’t even get out of the car. Fill out the required form before you go and check hours. 2100 East 7th Street, Oakland. PaintCare lists additional places that take old paint.

Expired or unused pharmaceuticals. Don’t let painkillers get in the wrong hands. There are multiple disposal sites through Walgreens, Pharmacy Board, Earth911, Hazardous Waste Drop-Off, or EBMUD.

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.

Recycle what you can’t donate. The STEM Juniors pointed me to the iRecycle app. (Thanks!) Download it today! Stopwaste has a tool for other places to recycle or donate.

If you have edits or suggestions, please send them along. Check out my work while you are here. Thanks for helping the environment and the community!