This post is part of Mashable’s Spring Cleaning Week. Just a little something to distract you from the eternal dread of constantly wiping all those fingerprints off your screen.
Congratulations! If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance you’ve completed the terrifyingly ambitious task of cleaning out your closet.
Not only have you found the strength to confront your old, outgrown, and perhaps never even worn clothes, shoes, and bags, you’ve also made the conscious decision to part ways with some of them. That alone deserves a pat on the back!
Now comes the hard part: Deciding what to do with the piles of stuff you no longer want or need in your life.
The simple answer would be to toss them in the trash and never look back. But why do that when you could donate your belongings to people in need?
The Council for Textile Recycling estimates that the average of clothing and textiles per year; the EPA notes that a substantial amount of that textile waste winds up in landfills. If you’re looking to declutter your life, consider donating to charitable organizations and nonprofits. Here are 15 of them.
(Side note: Make sure to consult CharityWatch.org or Charity Navigator to learn more about how efficiently a nonprofit uses your donation.)
1. Housing Works
Housing Works helps people living with HIV/AIDs by providing those in need with healthcare services, housing, job training, and legal services. The New York City-based nonprofit accepts men’s and women’s clothing, accessories, shoes, handbags, books, CDs, and more at locations around the city. Donations are sold at Housing Works thrift shops, bookstore cafes, and an online shop. Proceeds help fund the organization’s services.
2. Out of the Closet
Similar to Housing Works, Out of the Closet sells donated items and uses the proceeds to support HIV/AIDs programs and services. Out of the Closet says 96 cents of every dollar collected goes to the AIDS Healthcare Foundation. Out of the Closet has stores in Dallas, Seattle, Los Angeles, Columbus and Miami.
The Arc works to provide support and services for people with intellectual disabilities like autism and Down syndrome. They accept clothing donations and other physical items. For more information on how to donate, locate your state chapter.
Goodwill is a nonprofit that accepts new or gently used clothing, shoes, and other items. Stores are located all across the country and sell donated items at discounted prices. The organization also creates a variety of employment opportunities and programs for individuals, including veterans, military families, and people with disabilities.
In 2016 alone, Goodwill employed more than 313,000 people. The organization has more than 3,200 stores, donation centers, and career centers across the United States and Canada.
5. Vietnam Veterans of America
This nonprofit, founded in 1978, works to support Vietnam veterans by giving them emotional support, access to healthcare, and more. Centers located throughout dozens of states accept clothing donations of all types. Locate a center near you to drop off donations or schedule an at-home pickup, and check out ClothingDonations.org — a service of Vietnam Veterans of America — for more information.
6. Big Brother Big Sister Foundation
The Big Brother Big Sister Foundation collects clothing and other items for children and sells them to thrift stores. The proceeds go toward mentoring programs in Boston, Southern New Hampshire, and Maine. Learn more about how to donate here.
7. One World Running
This Boulder, Colorado-based organization was founded in 1986 to provide shoes to people in the United States and third-world countries. With drop-off locations in 12 states and Canada, One World Running collects and cleans new and used athletic shoes and apparel.
Soles4Souls is a Nashville, Tennessee-based nonprofit that seeks to end poverty, provide jobs, and distribute shoes and clothing to people around the world.
It was founded in 2006 as a disaster relief organization in response to the demand for footwear after the Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004 and Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Soles4Souls has since provided 30 million pairs of shoes in the United States and more than 120 other countries.
You can donate online or check out Zappos For Good. The company partnered with Soles4Souls to encourage donations by covering the cost of shipping your clothes and shoes.
9. Share Your Soles
Share Your Soles is another place to donate all types of footwear, including running shoes, sandals, boots, and children’s shoes. Drop sites are currently located in Illinois, Indiana, and California.
Over the course of 19 years, Share Your Soles has provided more than three million pairs of shoes to families across the United States, Central America, Southeast Asia, the Caribbean, Africa, and Europe.
10. Nike’s Reuse-A-Shoe program
If you have worn-out running and athletic shoes, Nike’s environmental Reuse-A-Shoe program is for you. Since its founding in the early ’90s, the program has recycled an average of 1.5 million pairs of shoes a year — allowing the company to collect thousands of tons of scrap material that might have otherwise ended up in landfills.
Nike’s program is ideal for sneakers that are beyond being given a second life. Rather than throwing your shoes out, they transform them into Nike Grind, a material the company uses to create courts, tracks, athletic fields, and playgrounds. Reuse-A-Shoe collection drop-offs are located at most .
11. Dress for Success
Dress for Success is an international nonprofit aimed at eradicating poverty and empowering women to pursue their career goals. The organization collects women’s professional attire in more than 28 countries, and provides women with clothes and programs to help them prepare for job interviews and the first stages of a new position. You can donate professional clothing to your local Dress for Success or plan a larger campaign to gather donations from a group.
12. Career Gear
Career Gear is like Dress for Success, but for men. The organization gathers professional menswear like suits, dress pants, blazers, sport coats, dress shirts, shoes, and ties, and supplies them to veterans, immigrants, recovering addicts, and other men in need of kickstarting a new career. Find out how to donate here.
13. Brides Across America
Got a wedding dress you’re looking to part ways with? Brides Across America is the nonprofit for you. Founded in 2008, the organization gifts wedding dresses and ceremonies to first responders, members of the military, and their family members. To date, Brides for America has given 20,000 wedding dresses second lives.
You can donate gowns for special occasions, veils, engagement rings and other jewelry, and wedding favors.
14. Change Purse
Change Purse was created to raise awareness of sex trafficking and to support survivors. The nonprofit collects purses and handbags, sells them at events, and donates the profits to organizations that work with women and children who’ve been sexually exploited.
15. Local Organizations
In addition to the more prominent charities, you can look for local organizations, clothing drives, shelters, and even thrift stores and consignment shops that may sell your clothes at reduced prices.
Check out the Council for Textile Recycling’s website to find a donation or recycling center near you. Many donations are also tax-deductible, so be sure to look into the policy of your organization of choice.
BONUS: Handy closet tips
Here’s how you can prevent the clutter from returning:
Turn your hangers in the opposite direction: It might seem strange at first, but flipping your hangers around will help you easily determine which items of clothing you don’t use, and thus, can donate. The trick: When you wear something from your closet, turn the hanger to face forward. At the end of the year — or whatever amount of time you see fit — review the unworn clothes still hanging backward and give them to someone else.
Purchase and replace: If you’ve reached that magical point in life in which you finally feel you have enough stuff, whenever you purchase a new item of clothing, try to get rid of an old one. This will help ensure that your closet never gets too full, and you’ll have items to regularly donate.
Good luck and happy cleaning!