Your Questions Answered: Donating Used Goods to Help the Environment
Have you ever found yourself unsure of what to do with unwanted clothes or household items? Not only does it feel wrong to throw these things away, but tossing items that could be reused contributes to NYC’s waste stream, and as these items break down in landfills, carbon emissions are created that contribute to climate change.
Luckily, New Yorkers have many options to rid their closets and homes of clutter without producing waste, including donations. Donating used items—or claiming used goods instead of purchasing new ones—helps reduce waste and its environmental impact.
We’re answering your donation questions to help point you in the right direction when you have items that are ready for a new life.
Where can I donate household items?
Our partners at GrowNYC organize free Stop ‘N’ Swaps® all over the city where you can drop off clean, reusable, portable items like clothing, housewares, games, books and toys and take home something new-to-you. Check out their website for upcoming events.
For larger items, look online for community groups where you can post furniture or decorations for neighbors to scoop up and add to their homes. We recommend StoopingNYC on Instagram and the Buy Nothing Project.
For all donation updates, events, and to learn more about what to do with odd items, check out the Department of Sanitation’s donateNYC page.
How is donation better than just recycling?
Recycling isn’t as efficient as one may hope. There are costs and greenhouse gas emissions associated with the recycling process, and many items are made up of multiple materials, making it hard to sort them at the recycling facility.
Reusing items, rather than recycling them allows them to be used longer and reduces costs and greenhouse gas emissions associated with waste management. Reuse also reduces the need to manufacture new items.
Donating is great for the environment, and everyone’s wallet.
What kinds of items are the best to bring, and in highest demand?
The most popular items that people look for at a Stop ‘n’ Swap are clothing, housewares and children’s toys. The best items to donate are the ones you love the most. If wearing or using something brought you joy, and it’s still in good condition, chances are someone else will love it, too.
I have old clothes that probably can’t be reworn. What should I do with them?
You’re not alone! The average American throws away nearly 68 pounds of clothing each year. In New York City, clothing and textiles make up 5.7% of all waste, and take up 4.5% of the space in landfills.
The Department of Sanitation and Housing Works offers free and convenient refashionNYC bins for most apartment and office buildings. You can drop off your items and let the experts decide if they can be donated, reused, or repurposed in a different way. Items that can no longer be used as clothing can be made into bedding for animal shelters or housing insulation.
Madison Square Park Conservancy will host our first Stop ‘N’ Swap, organized by our partners at GrowNYC on Saturday, June 11. Stop by to donate or claim lightly used items and help reduce waste in our community.
A special thank you to The New York EDITION for their support of Madison Square Park’s sustainability initiatives.