Even though there are numerous studies that link clutter to negative impacts on mental and physical health, most of us have a hard time parting with our stuff. As it turns out, however, the benefits of decluttering your home can have a much greater impact than you think. Especially when you donate your unused and unwanted items to the people and organizations that need them.
Serving this greater purpose will not only help you organize your home and free yourself from clutter; it will help you make a real and lasting difference in the lives of others. Over the next few months, we’ll break out where you can donate your gently used items to benefit your local community and the world at large.
Books can be a particular sore spot when it’s time to declutter your home. Books represent adventures, education and favorite authors. If you want to organize your home, however, you’ll need to answer the hard questions. Why are these titles on your shelf? How often do you actually read them? Are there books you currently own that you have never read? What are the chances they could be read and appreciated by someone else?
Luckily, there is no shortage of organizations that will accept your gently used titles. Here are a few to get you started.
- Local libraries. You can call them ahead of time to see what types of books they are currently accepting. If they are not accepting books, they usually have a few local organizations they can recommend.
- Nursing homes.
- Local elementary, middle and high schools.
- Better World Books: With drop boxes all over the country, Better World Books accepts all kinds of books in good condition. BWB uses the proceeds of selling donated books to fund high-impact literacy programs throughout the world.
- Books for Africa: While you will have to pay for shipping (unless you live in Atlanta or St. Paul), it’s a small price to send books where they are sorely needed. Ask the post office about the media-shipping rate, as it may save you money.
- United For Libraries: Always contact your local library first, as it will be the most effective use of your time and your donation. If your library is not accepting donations, you can ship your donation to United for Libraries, a division of the American Library Association dedicated to supporting underfunded libraries across the country.
- Big Hearted Books & Clothing: Based in Massachusetts, Big Hearted Books and Clothing is a container-hosted program for much of New England. You can drop off gently used books and clothing at any location, or host a container in your neighborhood so that everyone can declutter (and help others in need) more easily.
If you have a personal attachment to your books, but recognize the need to downsize, consider gifting them to friends and relatives. Write a thoughtful note inside explaining what the book meant to you, and pass it along. And remember, a donated book always has a happy ending.