Recycling and donating (I want karma for my stuff)

Batteries - Rechargeable batteries, such as mobile phone batteries, have to be recycled properly.  Any mobile phone retailer is required to recycle them.  Best Buy, and Staples also recycle used batteries and other electronics.

Cloth - Used sheets (and other scrap-type fabric) can't be donated but they can be recycled. Textile recycling is the answer!  Grow NYC Textile Recycling has locations around the city.  

Electronic waste - Lower East Side Ecology Center has set an incredible precedent for responsibly handling e-waste.  They have collections all over the city.  Check out the calendar for a date and location near you. 

Eyeglasses - Old eyeglasses can be donated to help people who can't afford frames -- a very worthy cause.  Most eyeglass locations will accept donations but here's more information

Ink Cartridges - Staples takes 'em and gives you $2 toward your next purchase of ink. Office Depot offers a free shipping label to drop them in the mail.

Lots of stuff all at once?  Here are some charities that I recommend for donation pick-ups:

  • Vietnam Veterans of America - They take just about everything and come very quickly but have some bizarre policy about crossing the threshold to your place.  You have leave the boxes just outside your door.  Call them for details.
  • Housing Works - A great organization and a worthy cause but they are pretty specific about what they'll pick up and so check out the website and call for details.

Selling (I want money for my stuff)

Books - There are lots of ways to sell used books with varying degrees of annoyingness.  The Strand will buy used books, but only ones they can resell.  So think: Would someone buy this book?  The fancy hardcover perfect condition rare art history book, yes.  The beat up ripped paperback 2004 guide to traveling cheap in Spain, probably not.  Selling your books to Amazon is fairly easy as well. 

Clothing - Buffalo Exchange and Beacon's Closet will buy used clothing but they are very specific about what they will take.  Be prepared for rejection but for the very best stuff. For higher end clothing, shoes and hangbags, thredUP is a fantastic online resource. They send you a bag, you stuff it and they sell it and give you money. It's takes a few weeks but the money does come. For very high-end to luxury items, try TheRealReal online consignment.

Electronics - Before you throw any electronic away, check out Amazon Trade-in or Gazelle. They email you a pre-paid label, you send in the item and get Amazon credit or cash. They've made it remarkably easy.

Of course, there is always eBay and Craigslist.  When they work, they work very well.  When they fail, they fail in grand fashion.  It's generally worth the effort for a good or expensive item. 

Taming the paper dragon:

  • Catalog Choice - Stop the inflow of catalogs and other junk mail for free. They practically make it fun to unsubscribe from stuff. 
  • Too much to shred at home?  Shred your private papers with Cintas pick-up or FedEx drop-off.
  • Is your child the greatest artist of all time and you're running out of wall space? Take a look at Plum Print. They send you a box which you mail back filled with masterpieces, they scan them (even 3D stuff) and send you a gorgeous glossy book.