The Impact of Donation on Community and Environment

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Most of us have items in our homes that we don’t use, need, or even want anymore. Maybe you even have a “donation” box that’s been sitting in your closet for weeks (or months!) now, but you haven’t pulled the trigger on getting rid of those items. 

It’s easy to understand why donating things is good and helpful. But, donations can have a bigger impact than you might realize. By giving items a second life, you’re giving back to your community and people in need. 

Beyond that, you’re actually doing something beneficial for the environment, too. As more people start focusing on sustainability efforts, the act of donating gently-used items will become even more prominent across the country – and the globe. 

The United States alone produces 268 million tons of waste each year. A lot of that comes from the production of new products, textile waste, and items people “get rid of” instead of donating. You can help to shrink that number by prioritizing your donation efforts. 

Furthermore, going green can help your mental health by helping you feel good about your impact on the environment. Donating items is a kind of recycling that contributes to the sustainability of your community and it can help reduce the anxiety that comes from clutter and waste.  

Let’s take a closer look at the impact, and how it can motivate you to finally take the plunge with those items you no longer use. 

What Should You Donate? 

a cardboard with inscription
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Nowadays, you might be surprised by what you can actually donate and give a second life to. While most people know you can donate clothes and most household items, consider thinking bigger in terms of what you can get rid of to help people and the planet. 

One of the best ways to boost sustainability is to recycle your old electronics. If you have something that’s no longer functional, look up organizations that accept it so it can be disposed of and repurposed properly. 

However, if you still have electronic devices that work, someone else might be able to get use out of them. Programs like Cell Phones for Soldiers exist for this purpose. You can donate an old cell phone, and it will be given to someone in the service to stay in touch with their families. 

Your old phone, tablet, or computer could also be used locally. Contact area homeless shelters or domestic violence shelters to ask about their needs. They might be able to give your device to someone who needs a fresh start and could benefit from the technology. 

Rebuilding and Restoring

One of the best ways to help your community while doing something good for the environment is to consider what you might be able to donate from any home remodeling or renovation projects. If possible, start by using eco-friendly materials in your building projects, like: 

If you have extra materials or items from a renovation project, consider contacting agencies like Habitat for Humanity to take them off your hands. Habitat typically accepts things like light fixtures, flooring, kitchen cabinets, and unused lumber. 

No matter the project you’re working on, you can reduce waste by planning ahead and making sure your measurements are accurate so you don’t end up buying more materials than you need. However, if you do end up with extra, don’t let them go into a landfill or waste space in your garage or shed. They could be repurposed into something else or used to construct something new. 

Where to Donate

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Even if you only have clothes or other small household items to donate, you’ll quickly find that there is no shortage of places willing to accept what you give. While you really can’t go wrong in giving your gently used items to people in need, do your research to determine the green initiatives of certain organizations, as well as how they process and distribute their donations. You might find that some are closer to your heart than others. 

Some of the most popular places to donate clothes and household items in the United States include the Salvation Army and Goodwill. However, you can get specific with your donations if you want to help a certain group of people. 

For example, if you’re trying to get rid of old printer ink cartridges, don’t let them end up in a landfill! Send them to Toner Buyer. They will actually pay you for your cartridges, and you’ll be doing your part to help the planet. 

Do you have a soft spot in your heart for parents in need? Send extra unused diapers to the National Diaper Bank Network. If you want to help out people across the world, send your gently used shoes to Soles 4 Souls, where they will be distributed to kids and adults who might not otherwise have anything to protect their feet. 

As you can see, there’s no shortage of options when it comes to where (or what) you can donate. You don’t have to look very long in your home to realize that there are things you’re not using that could benefit others. Plus, by giving your items away instead of throwing them away, you’ll do your part to reduce waste, and it could inspire you to start leading a more sustainable lifestyle. 

  • Katie Brenneman

    Katie Brenneman is a passionate writer specializing in sustainability, mental health, education, and fitness-related content. She is a graduate of UCR where she discovered her love for health, eco-friendly lifestyles, and writing. When she isn't article brainstorming, you can find her with her nose buried in a book or hiking with her dog, Charlie. To connect with Katie, you can follow her on Twitter.

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