Better ways to get rid of three unwanted items

It isn’t unusual to unearth dust-laden relics from the past when organizing an overstuffed closet or cluttered attic. With restlessness making long-neglected to-do lists suddenly look like practical ways to pass the time in self-isolation, old clothes and forgotten possessions may be currently coming to light in more than a few homes, leaving owners to ponder what to do with them.

Some may have the initial instinct to throw out unneeded items, or donate to their local Salvation Army or Goodwill. Seeking out other options can appear tiring, even before COVID-19 prompted many charities to adopt stricter policies toward accepting items. However, there are lesser known alternatives available that are just as convenient as dropping items off at the nearest second hand store.

One such alternative is Soles4Souls, an organization that collects unwanted shoes and clothing, and redistributes them to those in need. People can donate their items at no cost using Zappos, a partner to the organization that was invaluable during quarantine, according to Jamie Ellis, Soles4Souls vice president of marketing and communications. Donators can also drop items off at a partnering collection location like DSW Designer Shoe Warehouse at Metro Pointe in Costa Mesa.

“Places like DSW and other small community businesses are our lifeline when it comes to drop offs,” Ellis said in an email. “Some places are open, some are still closed, and others have altered the way they operate. But we still highly encourage drop offs when it’s safe to do so.”

Another option for disposing of tired pairs of jeans is Blue Jeans Go Green, a program that aims to collect and recycle used denim. This program converts donated clothes into natural cotton fiber insulation, which is used to build homes throughout the country.

Like Soles4Souls, donations can be mailed in at no expense using Zappos or dropped off with select companies who have partnered with the program. Tailor Maclellan is a manager of a Madewell outlet at South Coast Plaza, which serves as one such location. Although the program accepts denim regardless of size or condition, the location has seen a decline in donations since the store’s reopening.

“The pandemic kind of tainted it, I feel like,” Maclellan said. “Anytime someone buys a pair of jeans, we encourage it, but it’s not as busy.”  

Despite the lull, Maclellan believes that the number of donations will increase in the coming months. Madewell offers $20 off a new pair of jeans per every pair donated as a way to incentivize shoppers, which can be combined with other select discounts.

A less obvious candidate for charitable donation is the mascara wand. While most people throw them away when the cosmetic runs out, Wands for Wildlife is a non-profit organization that collects and redistributes wands to wildlife rehabilitators to tend to injured and orphaned wild animals.

The non-profit initially got its start with a social media post in 2017.

“The post mentioned wildlife rehabbers can use discarded mascara wands to clean fly eggs from orphaned and injured wildlife,” Kerri Conrad, development coordinator for Appalachian Wild, another non-profit that initially started Wands for Wildlife, said in an email. “The post went viral, and the program was born.”

Donators need only wash the wands with soap and warm water prior to mailing them in with a form that can be found on the organization’s website. 

Clearing out unwanted clutter can be an exhausting task on its own, even without looking into where best to unload the odd pair of old shoes or torn jeans. These are only three of many organizations that strive to make the process of donating as easy as possible. To find even more options for donating odds and ends from around the house, consider visiting Kinfield’s recycling directory. 

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