Something that clutter can actually do for us is to remind us that we are lucky enough to be in a situation where we have too much stuff. There are lots of families, communities, and individuals out there that have an actual shortage of income or possessions. Donating your extra items can not only help you get rid of clutter, but can provide someone with the opportunity to have something that they genuinely need. Clothes are the first item that usually come to mind, and are definitely an important clutter and donation factor, but there are many others.
Does your home have extra toys laying around? Do you or your children have boxes of old toys that are never used anymore? Consider donating these to help others in need – imagine how happy a child would be to have a “new” toy to play with!
Do you have some electronics that are still serviceable and in working condition that you are going to replace or have duplicates of? Think about how big of an expenditure a printer can be – this could really help someone who is looking to either outfit themselves with the ability to have a home office or to do things like print out resumes for a reasonable cost while conducting a job search. These electronic items can also be a difficult type of clutter to get rid of. Different areas have different rules governing the disposal of electronics – luckily many stores are now required to take out of service electronics to keep them from landing in the landfills. If your printer, computer, monitor, calculator, or other piece of electronics does not work any longer consider turning it over to a store or donation center for proper disposal. The EPA lists many businesses that offer programs for turning in used electronics; below is a partial list:
- Best Buy
- LG Electronics
- Office Depot
Some of these companies with retail locations will dispose of electronics of various types – contact the store for details. The full list and other great electronics disposal and donation information can be found at the EPA site here: http://www.epa.gov/osw/conserve/materials/ecycling/donate.htm
Another good source for making the donations or disposals is your local Goodwill or Salvation Army center. At the time of writing this article Goodwill takes unwanted electronics in any condition; they will refurbish, reuse, or recycle the items in an environmentally responsible way. More Goodwill information can be found here: http://www.goodwill.org/get-involved/donate/donation-acceptance-guidelines/
As with retail locations, it is usually a good idea to call ahead to your local donation center to make sure you are going to be able to donate your items.
In addition to getting rid of your clutter in a responsible manner and helping the community and individuals, donations are tax deductible! Keep in mind that to claim the deduction you will need to itemize your deductions – we won't go into the details here, and you are encouraged to look further into tax information regarding donations if you plan on claiming these tax deductions. Some of the important points are:
- You must keep records of donations (letters from the charity, canceled checks, appraisals for donated property)
- The paperwork and requirements get more stringent for donations valued at $500 and again at over $5000.
- There are limits to tax deductions based on charity donations based on your income level.
So – time to get busy decluttering and helping out others! There are so many benefits to making donations and getting rid of electronics that we should really never be throwing out many types of our “clutter” in the garbage.