By Katrina Simyab | Image Anete Lusina via Pexels
The annual ritual of spring cleaning is a great opportunity to not only declutter your home, but also to give back. Here are some local options that take everything from books to bikes.
Buy Nothing Groups
This movement seeks to establish community gifting through its free app and private Facebook groups. Each platform is a place for members to “spend less and share more” by offering up unwanted items for free or asking if anyone has what they need. Groups are hyper-local and have specific location requirements so members can easily pick items up. (Many also have rules on what you can post to give away and rules for claiming items.) In Madison, there are Buy Nothing groups for the city’s west side, east side, and central/south side as well as in Verona, Monona, Sun Prairie and Fitchburg, among others.
buynothingproject.org or search on Facebook
Free Bikes 4 Kidz
Free Bikes 4 Kidz operates on the simple principle of “You’ve got bikes you no longer need. We know people who need them.” Volunteers from this nonprofit collect, refurbish and distribute donated bikes to historically excluded communities in southern Wisconsin. The nonprofit accepts donations of gently-used bikes from September through March. If you’re good at fixing bikes, they’re also looking for bike-loving volunteers.
Green Life Trading Co.
Looking to incorporate more sustainability into your daily care routine? Green Life Trading Co., owned and operated by 2021 BRAVA Woman to Watch Sasha Stone, offers eco-friendly personal care items, cleaning supplies and kitchen goods. Some products are sold sans packaging (soaps, etc.), or in recyclable or refillable containers. Or, shoppers can bring in their own containers and fill them. The shop also recently launched its Green Box compost service. Shoppers can bring in full compost buckets and exchange them for clean, empty buckets to divert food scraps from going into the landfill.
Families of children with special needs know the struggle of acquiring adaptive equipment and training toys for their growing little ones. As a sustainable solution to this problem, Kindred Kids in Columbus, Wis., maintains a large library of donated tools and equipment for children with disabilities. Because this local nonprofit knows these resources are a necessity, items are provided to families for free. The nonprofit is always accepting donations of items, money or time as they are completely supported by contributions and volunteers.
Madison Reading Project
Access to reading opportunities at a young age is critical for the growth and development of young minds. The Madison Reading Project works to provide free books and literacy programs to both educators and families to encourage a love of reading. Individuals can donate gently-used baby, kid, tween and teen books (be sure to read their donation guidelines) to keep your books circulating in the hands of new readers. Since 2013, the nonprofit has given away nearly 400,000 books to children.
Nationwide Trophy Recycling Program
Founded in Madison by Total Awards & Promotions, this nonprofit accepts donations of old trophies to save them from going to the landfill. For a small fee per donation, trophies are rebuilt and sent to other nonprofits nationwide to assist with their fundraising efforts or to thank volunteers. Donation tickets can be purchased through their website.
Clothing and textile waste is a growing problem. While donating items to a local thrift shop is better than the trash can, in reality, a good portion of textile donations still end up in a landfill. Starting at $14.50 for one bag up to $129.50 for a ten-pack of bags, ReTold will send you biodegradable bags to fill with all your unwanted textiles. Then, they sort and recycle your items. Promising that nothing will be thrown away, the company has already diverted 50 tons of clothing from landfills.
The Road Home
Your old furniture can directly benefit local families through a donation to local nonprofit The Road Home. As a 501(c)(3) organization, they serve over 200 families experiencing homelessness each year, connecting them with furnished housing. With convenient pickup times provided by their partner Reynolds Transfer & Storage, it’s an easy way to gift pre-loved furniture in good condition to a new home.
Another great option to reduce fashion waste, online consignment and thrift store ThredUp offers an easy way to refresh your closet and make some money. Order a cleanout kit to send in your gently-used clothing and accessories. The ThredUp team will inspect items and offer a monetary payout or website credit for every eligible sold item. All ineligible items are responsibly recycled, or, you can pay a small fee to have any ineligible items shipped back to you.