If you aren’t one of the incredible health care providers or essential workers on the frontline in the fight against COVID-19, you may be getting a little stir crazy while observing the country’s various stay-at-home orders. And who isn’t?
Luckily, there are no rules to what you do during quarantine; no law saying you must be productive, no executive order to complete at least one puzzle a week, or CDC guidelines on how many banana breads to make. The time you’re spending during quarantine comes with no expectations or pressure to do, really, anything with your free time — but now that we’re more than a month in, you’re probably desperate to do something.
And it just so happens that spring cleaning is upon us. After last year had us all going crazy with Marie Kondo and her life-changing magic of tidying up, this year you may be ready to look at your wardrobe with fresh eyes and a whole new perspective courtesy of the coronavirus; maybe clubbing will soon be a thing and your past, or maybe you’ve fully embraced a leisure lifestyle and you have no intentions of ever looking back (any, honestly, same). In any case, there’s no better time to clean out your closet than right now.
Of course, that’s easier said than done; we already know that fashion is one of the worst polluting industries — and that’s under that best of circumstances. Donating clothing, ethically, so that it doesn’t end up in a landfill — whether here or abroad — is no small task. And to add to that, many facilities are closed, and, even if they’re open, you may not want to make the trip. Fortunately, a lot of companies have made it easier than ever to donate clothes, without any human-to-human contact.
Keep reading for our recs on how to get rid of your unwanted clothes and household items.
Use a Service to Print a Prepaid Label
One of the easiest ways to donate your unwanted clothing and household items is to find a service that will provide you with a free, prepaid shipping label so you can send in your donations via the mail, UPS, or FedEx; all you need to do is print one the labels, affix it to any box you have ready to be reused, and send it on its way.
There are several companies that already had this service in place — even in a pre-COVID-19 world (remember life before COVID-19?), and figuring out which one to use basically comes down to what you’re donating.
ThredUp, the world’s biggest online thrift store, will send you a pre-labeled bag that’ll allow you to mail in unwanted clothes; they’ll pay you for what they can list to resell, and will donate on your behalf what they can’t. And as an added bonus, right now they’re partnered with Feeding America to help get meals to those affected by the pandemic.
If you have specific items that are ready to be donated, there are countless services dedicated to fulfilling those needs. For example, Give Back Box will also take your clothing donations, as well as gently used household items and toys and VSP accepts eyeglasses donations.
Use a Donation Dropbox
If you’re a regular donor, especially of clothes, you probably know where your community’s donation dropbox is located; chances are it’s either outside a thrift store or by a highly trafficked community area, like a place of worship or a school.
Using one of these dropboxes for a donation is an easy way to get rid of the items that no longer spark joy. However, since these are located in public places — and you don’t know who was there before you — you should make sure to thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water, for at least 20 seconds, after you visit one. If you have disposable gloves, even better — as long as you dispose of them properly.
Using a reselling site or app — like eBay, Mercari, or Poshmark, to name a few — is definitely more labor intensive than some of the other options; not only do you have to photograph and list your items, you may also have to interact with potential customers (hey, maybe the interaction is welcome at this point of social distancing). However, it is a guarantee that you’re extending the life of your garment, by selling it to someone else who will use it, enjoy it, and — most importantly — keep it out of the landfill.
Some estimates predict that buying used saves an incredible amount of carbon emissions annually, so if you’re thinking about revamping your wardrobe (more sweats, maybe?), definitely consider buying secondhand — even when you’re not in person.
This article is part of Green Matters’ 2020 Earth Day campaign, #HomeSweetEarth, which aims to remind readers that the one thing we all have in common during this hectic time is our home: our shared home, planet Earth. We hope our stories this week will inspire you to connect with and honor the Earth during the pandemic — and beyond.