What to do with Old Toys and Clothes
Finding ways to donate, reuse or repurpose old clothes, toys and games is good for the planet, and it teaches your children about giving and sharing.
Give gently used items to charities
Clearing out the house after the holidays can feel great. Doing this by donating toys your son is bored with or coats your daughter has outgrown to a charity such as Goodwill or the Salvation Army decreases clutter in your home without adding to landfills. It allows others to use those items until they truly wear out and lets you take tax deductions for the items’ monetary value. Almost every charitable organization cheerfully provides receipts for donations.
Don’t limit yourself to donating to the most well-known major organizations. Identify smaller local or national charities. Many nonprofits have drivers who will come to your house to collect your used clothes, games and toys, saving you time and trouble.
Before you pack up your old things, though, call to see what items the charity you’ve chosen accepts. Many organizations sell donated goods at bargain prices to fund their activities, so they will not take torn or stained clothing, games missing pieces or nonfunctioning electronics. Even charities that give away items at no charge have rules about what they will take off your hands. No matter what the condition, it is kind to wash clothing before you donate it.
Items like baby shoes, christening gowns, old teddy bears and school progress reports are hard to give up no matter how far they have passed their usefulness. This is particularly true for photo albums packed with pictures that bring back beautiful memories.
What you don’t choose to donate can be saved for your children’s children or repurposed for a craft project. This is called upcycling, and it’s a particularly good way to deal with old clothes.
Special outfits can be passed to relatives or swapped with friends. A child’s sketch of your family can be embellished with glued-on scraps of clothing each family member once wore, then framed and saved as a portrait of a year in your family’s life. Or you can work together with your children to make abstract collages out of interesting scraps.
The pioneers produced magnificent quilts with swatches cut from worn-out clothes and blankets, but that approach doesn’t give you a bed cover capable of surviving a run through a washer and dryer. The modern way of reusing clothing scraps is to sew small pieces onto newer items to serve as accents or to create wall hangings and strip weavings.