Deciding we don’t need something is one thing, knowing what to do with it ethically and responsibly is another.
Where can I donate my stuff?
It depends on your location and mobility. I love doing targeted donations but I am not likely to travel for an hour across town just to drop off one baby blanket.
As a Professional Organiser I have the power of quantity on my side, which makes targeted drop-offs more worthwhile. I can collect 10 baby blankets in a smaller timeframe and then make the trek.
But for all of us the time-versus-benefit equation comes into play. Bear that in mind as you explore these options:
Where can I donate my stuff? Baby and Child
St Kilda Mums (now based in Clayton) is a fantastic initiative with a vision to share more, waste less and care for kids. Baby items need to comply with current regulations, therefore they don’t accept everything. Just because your mum slept in this cot and didn’t die, doesn’t mean it is a viable donation. You can check eligibility here.
If you are in the Heidelberg area 3081 Angels has you covered. Also you can also check out @BigGroupHug on Facebook for Northern suburbs family donations that include toys and more.
Where can I donate my stuff? Books
Ask your local library if they take donations, but don’t just pop them in the chute – they may not enjoy that. Community/street libraries are great if you have one nearby, and I sometimes put boxes of books outside my house on a fine day for passers by. And then retrieve the box before night or rain comes. Don’t leave them out to get wet and misty. Sometimes there are book drives for particular events, so ask around your local area.
Op shops will take your pre-loved tomes but some are choosy because books are heavy and can be hard to sell.
So if you have a huge quantity, good luck! Facebook or Freecycle freebie listings are a good idea and Savers stores have much more capacity than smaller op shops.
Where can I donate my stuff? Clothing and Shoes
Textiles are a huge environmental problem. The clothing industry is terrible for the environment. Fast fashion and our thirst for novelty means a lot of our clothes are hardly even used before they are tossed. Purchasing less of it is ideal, but what can you do with your excess?
Upparel is an environmental champion. They upcycle your throwaways into more clothes, little couches and goodness knows what else. There are good things happening there. Donating is not free but it’s pretty cheap and you get vouchers to purchase some of their wares. Even if you are going minimalist you still need socks, right?
Clothing retailers H&M and Zara recycle fabrics too, via instore bins. However the massive textile waste incurred by these fast fashion companies leaves me a bit sceptical about their motives. (I’m thinking Greenwashing) Also they have limits on what they can take and you may need to become a member and download their shopping app.
If you have corporate clothing and shoes that you think are suitable for interviews, Dress For Success helps women get job-ready. Donations can be made in Frankston. Fitted for Work is the inner Eastern equivalent and is based in Richmond. However since Covid and the rise in work-from-home culture, the supply of pre-loved corporate clothing tends to outstrip demand.
Angel Gowns accepts wedding dresses and turns them into funeral gowns for deceased infants.
Op shops are located everywhere and they all sell and accept clothes. Usually they align with a rag company who collects unsaleable garments, so don’t stress too much about the quality of the clothes you donate. Check that with your chosen op shop to confirm.
Clothing charity bins are useful for bagged up clothes and shoes. They are local, handy and always open for business. Which unfortunately can mean the nefarious dumping of unwanted goods, but that’s just an aside. The SCR Group is a slick operation. A lot of the manual work is done overseas, but SCR assures us their ethical and labour standards are well above board.
Underwear of all kinds can be sent to Underwear for Humanity for recycling. They send eligible bras to Support the Girls who’s mission is to provide bras to women in need. The rest is turned into things like carpet underlay and insulation. You also get 10% off purchases as a thank you.
If you have a bunch of clothes in a particular size or style, you could list them as a free bundle on Marketplace or a Facebook freebie group. This ensures they go to someone who will use them while cutting out the middle man. A bag of size 8 boys’ football merchandise is a fairly niche subcategory, so it may as well go straight to its enthusiast if possible.
Check out this newer blog about where to donate clothes.
Where can I donate my stuff? Electricals
A lot of op shops don’t take electrical items due to liability and safety issues, however Salvos stores accept small appliances and white goods, with some exceptions. Kids off the Curb also collect white goods for their Refurbishment and Recycling Program. Proceeds assist disadvantaged and at-risk young people.
Savers stores take electricals. Although these fellas are not technically a charity (it’s a Not for Profit), keeping anything out of landfill is a wonderful thing. Shoutout to Savers for being like that friend who is very accepting, and cool with everything.
Givit is a great initiative which pairs up donations from the public with people in genuine need.
You Matter does similar great work, focussing on supporting women and children escaping family violence.
Where can I donate my stuff? Food
There are food and meal charities across Melbourne. These include Foodbank, Sacred Heart Mission and Uniting. They take food which has been responsibly stored and within use-by or close to best-by date.
Local suburb-specific Facebook groups may have info about community pantries and swapping groups.
If the food is not within consumption dates it may still be fine for a friend’s chickens or compost bins.
Where can I donate my stuff? Furniture
Some items are difficult to drop off due to their sheer size. You can list them free of charge on Marketplace, Gumtree, or Freecycle. If you are on Facebook there are many Buy Nothing and Good Karma networks. That way someone will put their hand up to come and collect, and if it’s free and decent, you can move things fast this way.
Also BSL/Brotherhood of St Laurence will pick up eligible items. Just call 1300 DONATE.
Sometimes there are backlogs and waiting lists for pickups from these guys, so be patient.
Where can I donate my stuff? Linen
Aforementioned clothing bins and op shops happily accept it. Also vets and animal shelters / rescues often love linen, blankets and towels to line animal pens.
No feather doonas or pillows though please (unless in perfect condition, in which case some op shops will accept) – these items are probably for general waste. With one exception – composters may be able to put the feathers into their compost bins.
Where can I donate my stuff? Mattresses
Before you buy a mattress consider doing so via a participating retailer in this terrific mattress recycling scheme. Also for a small fee Soft Landing can pick up an old mattress irrespective of your purchase. They create meaningful jobs for people experiencing barriers to employment. There is a lot to be recycled in a mattress, so don’t just throw it out on the street.
If you think someone could use your mattress you can try donating via onsite sales sites and Facebook groups. But if it’s well-used it will be a difficult proposition, because – yuck.
Where can I donate my stuff? Toiletries
We all end up with unused bottles that were on sale, or um.. free at the hotel. Blessing Bags offers people in need (mainly the homeless and marginalised) toiletry essentials. Drop off points are here.
Please only unused, unopened items due to health regulations. The rest goes in the bin, or slather it all on your face and head, just for fun.
Makeup empties can go to Priceline’s in-store Terracycle program.
Go for Zero also collect Terracycle, AND they take old hair ties – awesome.
Where can I donate my stuff? Prescription Glasses
The Fred Hollows Foundation lists Specsavers and some other alternatives. Otherwise ask your local glasses retailer. In other words, where you buy your new glasses. They often align with charities who send them overseas, and can add them to the shipment for you.
Also op shops usually take them, as the frames are useful for people to wear as a costume or refit with lenses.
Where can I donate my stuff? Bicycles
In Melbourne’s North there are various excellent Social Enterprise programs for bike repair and resale.
The Bikeshed at Ceres in Brunswick East focusses on recycling, educating and empowering.
The Jika Jika Bikes to Work program in Northcote runs bike mechanic internships for youth.
The WeCycle community bike shed recycles and rehomes unwanted bikes with people who need them.
There are plenty of similar programs across Melbourne.
Where can I donate my stuff? Everything else
As I mentioned, Facebook Marketplace is your friend, as are a number of Facebook freebie groups including Buy Nothing and Good Karma. If you don’t use Facebook, try Gumtree (list as $0) and Freecycle.
You can put weather-hardy items on your footpath but don’t just use it a dumping ground. You don’t want to be THAT guy.
Where can I donate my stuff? Other recycling (Unfit for use)
Google your local council recycling service. Mine accepts:
– motor oil
– gas cylinders
– light globes
– fire extinguishers
– white goods
– X rays
– e-waste (anything with a cord as well as VHS tapes and CDs),
and more. Drop-offs are mostly free depending on the council.
Go for Zero and Priceline also collect for Terracycle, including plastic bread tags, coffee capsules and other packaging. Terracycle takes all kinds of things too expensive for councils to deal with. Check them out.
Officeworks will recycle pens, markers, small e-waste, batteries, media (CDs etc) and printer cartridges. Some supermarkets and libraries recycle e-waste and batteries, as well as other things like X-rays and light globes.
Pharmacycle and Terracycle take used and empty medicinal blister packs. Westgarth Pharmacy in Northcote and Jayson Atkins Pharmacy in Essendon, were early adopters of this recycling scheme. In November 2023, Chemist Warehouse also jumped onboard, which means easy access for all.
Most pharmacies will dispose of medications safely, so they don’t enter the waterways.
Rehousing your stuff is great. But it can be a lot of effort to even find the right charity. Not all of your precious items can be picked up or accepted quickly. A lot of charities have limited volunteers and storage.
Also there is a lot of stuff out there in Melbourne, so be mindful of what you let in through your front door. A lot of it will end up as clutter and having to be dealt with in all the ways mentioned above.
The Decluttering Co sees a high volume of donations and can usually take yours off your hands completely. Feel free to get in touch