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Self-Help Suggestions and Links

Tips to help you, other people, and the environment;
including charitable organizations
to which you can contribute.
Want to add your Non-Profit organization
to our Self-Help page? 
Just fill out the following form
and we'll get back to you as soon as possible.

Name of Non-Profit Organization:
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Click here to open printable SELF-HELP LIST

KNOW what you have and THINK before you buy. 

It's as simple as that. 

Your goal is to keep your life under control,
not to overload the landfills!
If you are an eBay or Craig's List fan,
consider selling your working cast-offs on the internet.
The Garage-Guru is a Craig's List expert,
so if you're not comfortable with
selling or donating electronically, 
let us do it for you!
Another suggestion:
join the FreeCycle Network at FreeCycle.org
This web-based program allows
people to swap their trash and treasures. 
Check out these articles in the Boston Globe and Nashoba Publishing.
     When you are weeding through your belongings,
check out these charitable organizations
(often specified as 'in-kind' donations)
Please scroll down for a list of donatable items.


This website contains a bunch of links to a variety of useful sites. Thanks to Brittany in Ms. Koenig's class at Cleary Mountain Middle School for providing this link: African American Environmentalist Association

Thanks also to Jess L. from Ms McNeil's teen class at the Goodwin Community Center for providing this useful link: Saving Money & the Environment - A Kid's Guide to Recycling

And another thank you to Amy from Mrs Lowe's class in Delaware for providing this useful link: A Guide to Recycling Around the Home.

Thanks also to Denise's volunteer group at the Brenham Community Center in Texas for providing this useful link: Recycling Saves Money


Also check out these general information sites:

Reducing and Reusing Basics from the EPA

Energy and Environmental Affairs from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts

Reuse Development Organization 

Sustainability at Boston University 

Reduce, Reuse and Buy Recycled from the Franklin County Waste Management District 

Materials: Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle from the Department of the Interior

The Art of Recycle 

Medical Equipment Recycling from Premier 


The Center for EcoTechnology 

Creative Reuse for Artists and Teachers 

Your Vehicle's Carbon Footprint 

Harvard University Recycling and Composting Tips 

UMass Amherst Recycling Tips 

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A linkable list to recycling resources in all Massachusetts towns 

...and some specific towns:  



















West Springfield 

or just search the internet for the words "reduce reuse recycle donate", the name of your town or state, and the type of item you wish to donate. Choose a charitable organization over a for-profit organization, if possible. 

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This website gives the low-down on recycling as a budgeting tool. Thanks to Sarah the Green Librarian for providing this link: Recycling Saves Money!

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If in good, working condition, advertise them for sale in your local paper's classified ads, or consider donating them to charity.  Household Goods Recycling Ministry accepts newer working appliances; Building Materials Resource CenterGoodwill, and the Salvation Army accept some appliances also.

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  • Baby Equipment

Only donate safe baby equipment.  Many shelters are happy to accept baby equipment that meets safety standards.  Car seats; cribs; toddler beds; baby swings; strollers.  Consider passing yours onto a needy mom.  Household Goods Recycling Ministry and the Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless accept these types of goods. Check with your local homeless or battered women's shelter too.

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  • Batteries, Rechargeable

Getting rid of all those portable rechargeable batteries?  Several retail stores now take used rechargeable batteries.  Browse www.call2recycle.org for a drop-off location near you.  Sony also accepts Sony-brand batteries at local Sony recycling centers

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  •  Bicycles

Several Boston-area companies accept bicycle donations, including the Roxbury non-profit organization Bikes Not Bombs, and Pedals For Progress.  Goodwill also accepts bikes in good condition.  Certain other organizations may also be looking for bikes at particular times.

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  • Books, Tapes, CDs, Videos, DVDs

Your local public or school library will probably be happy to take these donations, if in good condition.  (Home-burned/recorded material will not be accepted because of copyright issues).  Text books, especially older editions, are not usually accepted either; consider them for the paper recycle box, as well as tattered books and paper video covers.  Organizations such as Household Goods Recycling Ministry, the Salvation ArmyGoodwill, and Building Materials Resource Center accept certain kinds of books and/or videos and DVDs as well.  Rosie's Place accepts children's books.  GotBooks (a for-profit organization, but a portion of its proceeds go to non-profit organizations) accepts books, videos, CDs, DVDs, and records. And remember places like the pediatrician's office, the dentist's office, and your local church. 

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  • Building Materials

Reusable building materials are accepted by Boston Building Resources located in Roxbury.  Habitat for Humanity accepts building materials - and volunteers, too!  Also remember your local theater companies.  Building sets takes materials.  The Boys & Girls Club of Worcester, Drama Program, is another place that accepts building material and hardware, as well as carpet scraps and latex paints and painting supplies.

Recycling Works is a good site regarding donating building materials also. 

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  • Bulk CDs and DVDs to Discard
Home-made and can't (or don't wish to) donate?  No problem.  Check out Earth911 or GreenDisk for those bulk disposals.  Consider a neighborhood or school drive to collect in bulk.

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  • Catalogues,  Magazines, and Junk Mail

If you want to keep receiving these, fine ... just drop off your used magazines at a doctor's office, school, or daycare (depending on the genre).  Remember to remove your mailing label for the sake of privacy! 

But ... if you don't want to receive these paper missives, CANCEL YOUR SUBSCRIPTION.  For unsolicited catalogues, most retailers have websites where you can find a customer service email address and simply request the removal of your name/address from their mailing list. 

And, by all means, STOP THAT JUNK MAIL!  Check out DMAconsumers.org (Direct Marketing Association) to remove your name from junk mail lists (at a cost of $1 every 3 years - that's a penny a day!).

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  • Cell Phones

Chucking your phone?  Check out Hope Phones.  Also, your local school may collect phones to recycle ... donate there and finance your children's education.  Check out the Mail In Mobile website! Here's a link to Sprint's program.  Also Office Depot, or your wireless company, as well as Recycle My Cell Phone and Phones4Charity.  Browse www.call2recycle.org.  Apple also offers a recycling program for iPads, iPods, iPhones, etc. 

How about donating your gently-used cell phones to Cell Phones for Soldiers? For every donated phone valued at just $5, Cell Phones for Soldiers is able to provide 2 1/2 hours of free talk time to deployed troops.  

Please don't just toss your old phone in the trash. That cell phone battery contains a valuable non-renewable mineral resource and must be recycled!

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  • Clothing, Shoes and Accessories

There are convenient dropboxes all over Massachusetts that accept clean, usable clothing and shoes, including St. Vincent de Paul, Goodwill, and the Salvation Army.  New England Shelter for Homeless Veterans, Big Brother Big Sister FoundationRosie's PlacePlanet Aid, among many others, also accept clothing.  However, if it's not something you would want your own neice / nephew / brother / sister / mother / father to wear, please consider it for your rag bag instead!

Have you retired from that high-tech job?  Moved on to a less formal career?  If you have good-quality business clothing that you no longer need, consider donating it to needy women and men who are trying to break their way into the business scene.  Dressing appropriately for an important interview can pave the way for a path out of poverty.  Groups such as SuitAbility and Tailored for Success  (in the Boston area) accept donations of business clothing and accessories. The popular clothing company H&M also accepts garment donations. And check out Second Chances in Somerville for donation opportunities.

Many charitable organizations have special drives to collect cold-weather items; phone your local place of worship for information.  Out-of-style clothing or costumes, in good, clean condition, consider donating to your local school drama club or theatre group.

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  • Composting Food and Yard Waste

What's not to love about composting? Garden fertilizer made out of your own food and yard waste. Do a little research and you'll be surprised at how easy composting can be! There are many many composting resources out there - just search the web with keywords such as 'compost yard garden container city'. 

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  • Computer Equipment and Electronics

The Salvation Army accepts working computers, as do some Goodwill stores.  MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) has a volunteer program as part of The Amara Project that refurbishes computers.  A great Boston-based site for many recycled electronics is Gazelle.com

Used printer cartridges?  Many schools collect these and use the generated funds to help educate your children - call up your local school today.  Also, Staples is a drop-off location for printer cartridges of any kind, and you will receive a $3 Staples coupon on a future purchase; Staples is also expanding its electronics waste recycling program by accepting used computers and monitors, dropped off for a $10 fee  (see related newspaper article). 

For important information regarding computer recycling, visit Computer Recycling USA.  And Sony has partnered with Waste Management to recycle all Sony computer equipment for free - and other brands for a small fee.... check out their recycling site to find a drop-off center/event near you.

Apple offers a recycling program for iPads, iPods, iPhones, etc. 

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  • Furniture

Furniture in good repair is always in demand, although arranging pickup can sometimes take a little planning.  The Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless is always looking for furniture;  St. Vincent de Paul accepts furniture, and will pick up a minimum of three pieces; Household Goods Recycling Ministry, Big Brother Big Sister Foundation, and Goodwill are also on the lookout for many types of furniture in good condition. Boston ReStore is a great site for furniture donations as well.

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  • Hangers

Local dry cleaners accept these.  It also wouldn't hurt to check with your school's art teacher about upcoming projects requiring metal hangers.

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  • Kitchen/Cooking Supplies and Utensils

That set of dishes that you never use?  Consider donating it.  Household Goods Recycling Ministry, Big Brother Big Sister FoundationGoodwill, and the Salvation Army accept many types of kitchen items in good condition. 

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  • Lighting

What to do when the lights go off: Lighting Recycling Guide Thanks to Lexie and Grace for letting us know about this site!

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  • Linens, Bedding, Pillows, Towels, and Comforters

Again, if it's not something you would want your own relative to sleep on / eat off / bathe with, please consider it for your rag bag!  Old sheets make fantastic painting drop cloths; ripped towels are great dusting or car-polishing rags.  Many shelters would be happy to receive clean linens and bedding, including the New England Shelter for Homeless Veterans and Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless.  Consider Household Goods Recycling MinistryBig Brother Big Sister FoundationGoodwill, or the Salvation Army for your bedding donation. 

And for those towels beyond repair, consider your local animal shelter!  Abandoned pets still need to be bathed.

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  • Mattresses

Clean, stain-free, and odor-free.  Consider Household Goods Recycling Ministry.

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  • Medical Furniture and Supplies
Furniture such as walkers, crutches, wheelchairs, and commodes can be passed onto another person in need.  Household Goods Recycling Ministry accepts such donations.  Premier is an excellent resource for reusing medical supplies. Crutches and prosthesis supplies are currently being collected by Sankara Cancer Foundation to be shipped to a hospital in India.

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  • Medication and Unused Prescription Drugs
Don't leave old medication lying around for a child to find! Don't flush old medication down the toilet unless explicitly instructed! Pharmaceutical waste is dangerous! Please read this article from the FDA for information on the disposal of unused medication.

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  • Musical Instruments
So you haven't played that trumpet since high school, but it still looks good.  Consider passing it on to a needy student or music department at your local school.  The Salvation Army also accepts some instruments.

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  •  Pet Supplies

No longer have a pet, but you're hanging onto the equipment?  Check out your local animal shelter.  Cat carriers and dog blankets (discarded towels and quilts) are always in need.  Baypath Humane Society and Purr-fect Cat Shelter are just two of many local area shelters. And if you're making a trip to an animal shelter, bring along all your old towels to leave at the shelter!

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  • Prescription Eye Glasses

Your local Lions Club accepts glasses donations - look for a drop box at your library or other public building.  The Salvation Army also collects eye glasses.  Green Rabbit has an excellent article on recycling eye glasses.

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  • Rugs and Curtains
Again, the keyword is CLEAN.  Household Goods Recycling Ministry takes in these items, if not faded and without obvious stains.  Big Brother Big Sister Foundation and Goodwill also accept draperies and curtains.

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  • Sewing Machines
Pedals for Progress takes in Singer Sewing Machines, refurbishing them for use in under-developed countries.

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  • Sporting Equipment
Consider posting a bulletin at your local skating arena, soccer field, or baseball diamond for those too-small skates, out-grown cleats, or used-just-once catcher's mask.  Some sports supply stores, such as Play It Again Sports also buy and sell used equipment.  The Salvation Army and Goodwill accept some sporting goods.

  • Tools
Salvation Army accepts some tools.  Also consider putting together a small toolbox of extra tools for that niece or nephew heading off to college.

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  • Toys and Games
The Salvation Army and Goodwill accept toys and games. Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless runs a holdiday toy drive.  Big Brother Big Sister Foundation drop boxes are suitable for SMALL toys. Puzzles (with all the pieces!) are a great item to drop off at your local senior center.

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  • Vehicles
Instead of trading in your old vehicle, consider the tax write-off advantage of donating it to charity.  Goodwill, New England Shelter for Homeless Veterans, and the Special Olympics accept used vehicles.

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