10 Items You Can Recycle for Charity
Usually I write about the philanthropy efforts of celebrities or the CSR business initiatives of corporations but in honour of Earth month I thought I’d feature a bit of a different list. Today’s post is all about ways that individuals and businesses can make a charitable impact by donating items they no longer need thereby recycling them. This list was inspired by Earth 911.
- Most people have a gently worn pair of shoes that either don’t fit or they don’t like kicking around their house that could be put to good use through Soles4Souls. Soles4Soulss collects shoe donations from manufacturers and individuals and refurbishes them to be given to “low-income school districts, domestic violence, and homeless shelters in the U.S., as well as shipped overseas to [125 countries] like Honduras, Costa Rica, Tanzania and India.” Since 2005 they have given away an astounding 19 million pairs of new and gently used shoes.
- Many people take the soap and shampoo from hotels and never use the stockpile they amass. Well now you can round up these unused hygiene products and send them to Clean The World as they collect these products from individuals and the hospitality industry and distribute the products to those in need and “prevent the millions of deaths caused by hygiene-related illnesses every day.“ This is easy to co-ordinate through their website where they also accept cash donations from the US and Canada.
- With prom season upon us, if you have an old prom dress just hanging in a closet, why not donate it to someone who may not be able to afford one? “Donatemydress.org encourages girls to donate their prom and special occasion dresses to others who need them.” Donatemydress.org is the first organization to “bring together local dress drive organizations across the U.S.” They also have three drop-off/pick up locations in Ontario, Canada. “Once you’ve had your dream night, you can give another girl hers!”
- Wedding and formal attire can also be donated and with wedding season just around the corner, the timing to donate couldn’t be better. There are a number of nonprofits willing to take your donation like DonateMyWeddingDress.org, Career Gear or Dress for Success.
- Technology is constantly evolving and many people have old cell phones, computers and other electronics lying around. Computer magnet Apple started a program to get customers to donate old iPads to Teach for America. Old computers can be donated to Computers with Causes and World Computers Exchange, which gives them to classrooms in need around the US and abroad. Old cellphones can go to a number of charities like Cell Phones for Soldiers, EcoCell, March of Dimes and Greenest Genius. In fact some phone providers like Sprint and Verizon offer charitable take-back programs.
- Greeting cards are something that we save to commemorate milestones and other events and now you can put them to good use. St. Jude’s Ranch for Children collects your old used cards and uses them for their Recycled Card Program recycles them into new holiday and greeting cards. The new cards are sold in packs of ten and retail for $10 with the proceeds going to the hospital. Please note, they currently have “an increased need for both Birthday and Thank You card submissions.”
- When you think about donating clothing, bras are rarely something that comes to mind, but in fact gently used bras can be donated. Bras for a Cause and The Bra Recyclers collect gently used bars and donates them to women in need at crisis centres and at breast cancer support groups. Bra Recyclers has drop of centres located in Canada and the United States and they “re-distributed through exporters and organizations to developing countries around the world.”
- Ink cartridges for laser or inkjet printers are something that everyone with a printer wants to know how to recycle. Manufacturers like Hewlett Packard’s recycling program gives you an envelope to send empty cartridges back to them but another alternative is Waste Management’s Cartridges for Kids that collects cell phones, laser & inkjet cartridges, laptops, MP3s, PDAs and tablets/eReaders/notebooks. Since 1999 they have raised an impressive $17 million for nonprofits via this program.
- Furniture is something most people are not sure how to donate and there are a few charitable options to consider. Operation Homefront will allow you to choose a military family to benefit from your donation. Another military charity is Vietnam Veterans of America which sells the used furniture and gives the funds to veteran’s programs. The Furniture Bank Association of North America will donate your gently used furniture to families in need in your community in the US and Canada.
- The last item on our list is how to donate books. Much like furniture there are dozens of places you can donate books like local schools, libraries, community centres and even prisons. Another option would be Books for Africa, which helps to build and stock libraries in Africa. There is also Operation Paperback, which sends books to United States troops stationed over seas.
Any of these projects can be made into a CSR business initiative if you host a drive at work or even at a school. This illustrates that a CSR business strategy can be multi-purpose and not cost anything beyond some organization time. It also shows that when it comes to giving back a little creativity goes a long way.
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Miratel Solutions is a Toronto call centre, eBusiness, and letter shop mail house specializing in professional fundraising services including telephone fundraising, online fundraising, lottery services, donation caging, donation processing and other donor management services. We are committed to our CSR business values in all contact centre services and mail house operations and advancing the missions of the nonprofits we proudly serve.