What to do with old or unused household items
The warm weather has us thinking about spring cleaning early this year.
You made it through 2020, but spending so much time at home may have left your place feeling a bit more cluttered than before. After you’ve fully Marie Kondo’d your space, you’re likely to have some unneeded stuff. Our recommendation? Donate what you can, then responsibly dispose of the rest. Here’s where to do it.
As a local business, though, we recommend these Austin nonprofits for a more direct community impact. Most accept gently used clothing and accessories, as well as household items including décor, kitchenware, linens, and furniture.
Before visiting, please check the charity’s website or call to confirm hours of operation and donation details.
Where: 4901 Burnet Road, Austin, TX 78756
What: Furniture, clothing, tools, office equipment, toys, household items, books, jewelry, antiques, collectibles, and more.
Why: With the support of donors and the earnings of Thrift House, ALA funds eight programs to support Austin children and adults. Their flagship program, Operation School Bell®, provides school clothing to children in need.
How: Donations are either resold in Thrift House, ALA’s high-end resale store, or via Instagram and Facebook. Goods that cannot be sold are passed on to other Austin nonprofits through their Waste Not program.
Where: 1409 West Oltorf Street, Austin, TX 78704 | 5801 Burnet Road, Austin, TX 78756
What: High-quality new and gently used items. Mostly clothing and shoes, but some household items may be accepted.
Why: Animal lovers will be familiar with this one. APA! is “helping people help pets” by running innovative, lifesaving programs and an adoption/foster center for stray animals.
How: APA Thrift! resells your items in a boutique-style shop, then donates all net proceeds to the programs and animals of Austin Pets Alive!
Where: 5222 Burnet Road, Austin, TX 78756 | 4001 South Lamar Blvd., Austin, TX 78704 | Dozens of drop-off locations – see website
What: Clothing, household items, and small furniture.
Why: As America’s largest nonprofit healthcare organization, Easterseals supports the health and wellness of more than 1.5 million people each year living with disability.
How: Donate through scheduled pick-ups, donation bin sites, clothing drives, and drop-off locations. Your items are brought to Saver’s thrift stores, where their sale provides funds to Easterseals’ programs and makes low-cost clothing and other items available to the community.
Where: 1122 East 51st Street, Austin, TX 78723
What: Gently used clothing, furniture, decor, small appliances, household items, boutique items, and more.
Why: Hope Family Thrift Store, in association with Austin Disaster Relief Network, was created to help provide support and goods for local disaster survivors and their families.
How: Beyond offering gently used quality merchandise at affordable prices to the local community, your donations provide financial support to the ADRN and provide a clean, organized distribution center for disaster survivors to receive free clothing, shoes, and goods. You can donate your items in the back parking lot at the dock doors or arrange a home furniture pickup by calling (512) 467-4940 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Where: Local drop-off locations include: Sam’s Club at 9700 N Capital of Texas Hwy, Austin, TX 78759 | Big Lots at 8666 Spicewood Springs Rd, Austin, TX 78759 | Burlington Coat Factory at 13739 US-183, Austin, TX 78750 | Philips 66 SUNNY Food Mart at 1667 Hwy 71 West, Cedar Creek, TX 78612
What: Men’s, women’s, and children’s clothing and shoes, blankets, sheets, pillows, purses, and household items.
Why: Paralyzed Veterans of America runs a number of programs designed to help our country’s brave men and women regain what they fought for: their independence and freedom.
How: Family Thrift Stores collects donations on behalf of Paralyzed Veterans of America – Texas Chapter. Donations should be dropped off at Family Thrift Store drop box locations, not the stores themselves. You can also schedule a pickup by calling (346) 319-2222 or emailing email@example.com.
Where: 901 W. Braker Lane, Austin, TX 78758
What: Gently used clothes, furniture, household goods, toys, electronics, and accessories.
Why: Society of St. Vincent de Paul’s programs provide immediate relief to homeless, poor, and unemployed Austinites. Services include food banks, bus passes, clothing vouchers, computer lab access, disaster relief, and financial advice.
How: Donations are sold in store — the revenue supporting St. Vincent de Paul’s community-enriching programs — or given directly to those in need. Donation pickup can be also arranged by contacting the store at (512) 442-5652.
Where: 2142 East 7th Street, Austin, TX 78702
What: “Mostly anything,” given that it’s clean and functional. A full list of exclusions can be found on their website.
Why: Treasure City’s slogan is “Solidarity not charity,” with its mission revolving around environmental sustainability, economic growth, and community enrichment.
How: Your donations will either be…
Donated to in-network groups along the principles of mutual aid.
Sold in store. Those not sold will end up at a Monthly 25¢ Sale and eventually the Really Really Free Market. The market, hosted on the last Sunday of the month from 1PM – 3PM at Chestnut Community Park, is a mixture of reuse, recycling, sharing, and community building.
The website for the city’s curbside recycling program, run by Austin Resource Recovery, can go a long way toward helping you decide what should be recycled versus being sent to the landfill. The site offers specific lists of what can be recycled in your big curbside bin, complete with a “What Do I Do With…” search function for hard-to-pin-down items.
The site is treasure trove of information on best disposal practices, like your address’s schedule for bulk-item collection day (large items like furniture and appliances absolutely beyond repair), where to take household hazardous waste such as paint and motor oil, and what you can drop off at its Reuse and Recycle Center, including electronics, clothing, housewares, and other items not eligible for curbside recycling. It’ll even tell you where to recycle your old Christmas tree.
Throwing household hazardous waste in the trash or pouring it down the drain is dangerous and harmful to the environment. The Reuse and Recycle Center’s Household Hazardous Waste facility collects for proper disposal cleaning products, automotive fluids and oil filters, paint and thinners, fluorescent light bulbs, batteries (car and household), pesticides and herbicides, mercury, aerosol cans, cooking oil, and propane cylinders.
* The Recycle & Reuse Drop-off Center is closed until further notice due to COVID-19. Travis County residents can schedule contactless pickup of household hazardous waste from their home for safe disposal, but items for reuse or recycling cannot be picked up at this time.