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Top 10 ways to purge unwanted stuff

  • Article by: JULIE KEARNS and BETH DEZIEL
  • Special to the Star Tribune
  • March 19, 2013 - 8:57 AM

Most of us can name any number of nonprofits (and for-profits) that will take unwanted stuff for resale or recycling. Terms vary by company, so if you’re not sure of a shop’s practices, just call ahead and ask. Here are our shout-outs to 10 organizations that we’ve found make the process a little bit easier.

Not sure where to start?

NAPO MN — Members of Minnesota’s chapter of the National Association of Professional Organizers work with you in your home or your business to clear out clutter, streamline your systems and simplify your life. The website’s “Resources” page offers a thorough list of donation centers in the metro, with clear descriptions of what they accept and, in many cases, a brief explanation of the causes served. www.napominnesota.com

Want to give stuff away?

Charities Review Council of Minnesota — Allows donors to screen the recipients of their donations with an online rating system for various charities. We like it because it offers a searchable directory based on general item type, and pick-up/drop-off options. www.smartgivers.org

The Salvation Army Thrift Store & Donation Center in the Frogtown neighborhood of Saint Paul (572 University Av. W.) is among a number of organizations that accepts all electronics and small appliances, whether in working condition or not. If they are unable to repair the item, they ensure that the parts are used for scrap rather than sent to the dump. If you’re not sure what your favorite center does with the stuff they can’t use, and want to make sure your contributions are being put to good use, we encourage you to give them a call and ask!

Trying to make some money?

TurnStyle Consignment — You could earn more money per piece at some of the other consignment stores, but we like TurnStyle because they make it easy: they will take clothing (men’s, women’s, kids, jewelry) regardless of season, are more flexible than some other shops with regard to what they’ll accept, and even consign household items at some locations. www.turnstyleconsign.com

Need stuff hauled off the premises?

Junk Happens — 100 percent of items collected by Junk Happens are recycled, reused, or turned into energy for electricity. 612-333-JUNK (5865) or www.junkhappens.com

Want to recycle it?

Do It Green! Minnesota — If you’re not sure how best to navigate existing recycling programs, this is a great basic article on the whats and whys of recycling that will help you get educated and be confident that your contributions are helpful. www.doitgreen.org/article/home/recycling

Freecycle — It’s a grassroots and entirely nonprofit movement of people who are giving (and getting) stuff for free in their own towns. It’s all about reuse and keeping good stuff out of landfills. www.freecycle.org

Earth 911 — If you have an unusual item to recycle and have no idea where to take it, this site lets you search by your zip code. We especially like their leads on items that can be hard to recycle. www.earth911.com

ArtScraps — This innovative concept combines waste management with art making. Partnering with businesses and manufacturers, ArtScraps collects scraps, overstock, factory rejects, and other items normally destined for the landfill, and makes the products available to teachers, parents, artists, scout leaders, day care providers — anyone working with children or interested in reducing waste through reuse of discardable materials. www.artstart.org/artscraps-reuse-store

Want to keep from acquiring it in the first place?

Mail Preference Service — Reduce the flow of unwanted stuff coming into your home in the first place (this site is a great resource for reducing not only postal mail, but also email and phone calls). www.dmachoice.org

- Julie Kearns owns the resale shop Junket: Tossed and Found (4047 Minnehaha Av., Minneapolis, www.junkettossedandfound.com). Beth DeZiel owns the organizing service Lasso LLC, (www.lassollc.com).

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