Essential to every professional organizer’s toolkit are the local nonprofit donation and disposal venues that enable our clients to release physical burdens from their lives. They are invaluable to community members and the health of the planet. In the Bay Area, we are fortunate to have an abundance of options. The internet provides a wealth of useful and educational online resources, and those to which I regularly direct clients are for DIY cleaning, mail reduction, and emergency preparedness. Below you’ll find some of my selections for all the above.
Do let me know if you are having trouble identifying a proper disposal venue or a resource for a particular item or need. I’d love to help!
CONSUMER RESOURCES will help you make informed and healthy purchases and choices for you, your family, and the environment.
DONATION VENUES – including libraries, second-hand stores, and wide array of nonprofits – are vital community resources for helping clients dispose of still useful items that are no longer needed. COVID-19 has affected many of these nonprofits hours (if they are open) and what they will accept. These have been updated as of 6 December 2020. Here are just a few of my favorites the San Francisco Bay Area:
- Friends of the San Francisco Public Library is accepting donations of books and media by appointment only.
- Goodwill Industries of San Francisco, San Mateo and Marin counties may surprise you when you learn what what they do with things like books and textiles.
- Homeless Prenatal Program in San Francisco currently accepts formula, baby food, diapers, and wipes until further notice
- SCRAP is San Francisco’s creative reuse center. They currently accept donations by appointment only.
- SFSmiles is run by my amazing friend, Chad, out of his family’s garage. All donated items – including clothes for infants to adults, kids’ toys, working strollers, backpacks, and more – are given away for free to those in need.
- East Bay Depot for Creative Reuse is the East Bay’s version of SCRAP. They are closed during COVID-19
EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS is something we all need to make room for in our lives. Emergencies of all kinds, shapes, and sizes – from power outages or water main breaks, to tornadoes or earthquakes, fires or a smoke-apolypse, and everything in between – can alter the course of normal at a moment’s notice. Checklists, plan-making recommendations, and a plethora of information can be found on the following sites:
- Just Stay Safe: A Simple Self-Isolation Plan is a phenomenal resource created by Cameron Sinclair, an Adjunct Professor at The New School, to help his students prepare for shutdown due to Covid-19.
- ready.gov provides preparedness and public information a la FEMA
- 72hours.org is a fabulous preparedness resource from the city and county of San Francisco
- NERT (Neighborhood Emergency Response Training) is free preparedness training for residents taught by members of the San Francisco Fire Department. For those outside these 49 square miles, contact your local volunteer CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) program. Get involved and get educated!
- CDC (Centers for Disease Control) encourages preparedness for a zombie apocalypse. (Gotta love that!)
- For those seeking recommendations for tested quality products, there are plenty to consider in this comprehensive piece from Wirecutter.
- prepareforpowerdown is a brand NEW site (as of May 2019) for Californians to help us prepare for possible public safety power shutoffs of the electrical grid during fire season.
A MAILBOX DIET is helpful if you are receiving too much junk mail. Reducing the amount of mail coming into your life has great benefits: you’ll minimize paper clutter in your home, and you’ll become part of the larger effort to reduce unnecessary paper consumption.
- Direct Marketing Association (DMA) Reduce unsolicited mail.
- Opt Out Prescreen eliminate unsolicited credit card and insurance offers.
- Catalog Choice a non-profit non-profit organization, managed by The Story of Stuff Project, is an awesome resource for reducing unwanted junk mail and catalogs.
- Valpak lets you eliminate coupon packs that arrive in the blue envelope.
RESIDENTIAL RECYCLING & HAZARDOUS WASTE know-how will enable you to properly dispose of unwanted items from paper, bottles, and plastics, to cleaning agents, nail polish, batteries, and paint. Always check with your local municipality if you are unsure where and/or how to dispose of things.