Spring cleaning? Read these donation tips
Some thrift stores can take damaged fabrics, but put them in a plastic bag marked "Fabric Recycle"
The arrival of spring — finally — likely has people cleaning out their closets.
In general, we need seasonal donations — summer clothes, sandals, life jackets. It’s not a good time to bring winter coats and boots.
If you aren’t planning a garage sale — and even if you are — the lakes area has thrift stores willing and able to take your discarded items.
That includes worn-out items you may think belong in the trash.
Just remember — these stores prefer spring and summer items right now. So you’ll have to store your winter wear until you can donate it in the fall.
“In general, we need seasonal donations — summer clothes, sandals, life jackets. It’s not a good time to bring winter coats and boots,” said Andrea Martin, retail manager of Common Goods in Crosslake.
All three area Common Goods stores — in Crosslake, Baxter and Crosby — take children’s, women’s and men’s seasonal clothing, as well as toys, puzzles, furniture, knickknacks and household items.
Donated items to resell need to be good-quality, clean, gently used and undamaged.
Some people may not realize stores like Common Goods and Goodwill — which has a location in Crosslake — both accept damaged clothing items they then recycle and keep out of the landfill.
Common Goods will recycle stained, ripped and worn out clothing and linens.
We think of fabric as soft lines. Shoes have to be able to be worn because they get shipped overseas. … If your sole is falling off, those things really do belong in the garbage.
The stores ask patrons to put such items in a white trash bag and label it “Fabric Recycle” on the outside.
“If they could separate it, it would be a game changer for us,” Martin said. “That’s how we save on our resources — staff doesn’t have to sort through to see what can sell.”
She explained fabrics accepted for recycling as not just clothing, but blankets, sheets, towels, shoes, socks and purses as well.
“We think of fabric as soft lines,” Martin said. “Shoes have to be able to be worn because they get shipped overseas. … If your sole is falling off, those things really do belong in the garbage.”
But items with stains, holes or rips are OK to recycle.
What is absolutely not recyclable are clothes that have an odor, whether it be smoke, must, mold or mildew, for example.
Thrift stores also don’t accept pillows.
“We can recycle a comforter but we can’t recycle a throw pillow,” Martin said.
Other tips to remember when donating items:
- Put soft donations in kitchen size garbage bags tied shut. Such bags are easy for staff to lift and stack.
- Take items off hangers. Metal angers rip other bags and just end up in the garbage.
- Use stackable boxes for hard items like Tupperware, books, appliances, knickknacks, mugs and dishes.
- Bring donations in nonreturnable containers. It’s difficult for stores to return boxes or totes to owners.
Area Common Goods stores accept donations from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday-Friday. If you have a larger load, call the store ahead of time.
Martin said Common Goods’ No. 1 mission is to generate funds to serve families through Bridges of Hope, an organization that helps households in crisis. The stores also want to help communities by redistributing goods in the proper channels.
“So we are trying to help the environment by recycling fabric and giving new life to old things,” she said.
Visit commongoods.org for donation guidelines, including a complete list of what can and cannot be donated.
Nancy Vogt, editor, may be reached at 218-855-5877 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Facebook and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/@PEJ_Nancy.