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How to Donate, Reuse, and Dispose of Stuff During COVID-19

Even during a pandemic, donating lightly used clothes, furniture, or other household goods is still the most sustainable way to manage your spring cleaning backlog. But where to go and how to keep everyone safe? We have some resources for you!

Photo of clothes on sales rack organized by color from yellow to green.
Buying used helps fight fast fashion.

How to Donate Clothes During COVID-19

It is critical to take measures to protect everyone from coronavirus as businesses reopen. The easiest way to do that is to wear a mask when you go out, stay six-feet away from others, and wash your hands frequently.

Depending on where you go to donate your clothes or other household goods, you may encounter some new restrictions to prevent the spread of COVID-19. For example:

If you want to stay completely socially-distant, you can even thrift online. ThreadUp allows you to mail your clothes without having to make a trip to the thrift store.

When it comes to fashion, purchasing secondhand is one of the best options to stay sustainable. You can buy from the above retailers and other local thrift shops or drop clothes off with a friend for a no-contact swap!

However, even then, most clothing ends up in the landfill because recycling textiles is difficult and expensive.

The environmental impact doesn’t stop there: the fashion industry accounts for 8% of global greenhouse gas emissions. One study found that if the number of times a garment was worn doubled, it would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 44%.

That means the most sustainable clothing is what we already have in our closets. 

Furniture, Appliances, and Beyond

Thrifting isn’t only for clothes. Giving furniture, appliances, and other household goods a second life is also beneficial to our environment. But how do you do that now?

If you have household goods to get rid of, the DI is a great option, as is the Habitat for Humanity ReStore.

  • Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore is open with limited hours, Tuesday-Saturday 11:00 am-5:30 pm, with COVID-19 precautions including mandatory masks and 6-foot social distancing in place to keep employees and customers safe. ReStore specializes in home repair and construction material, architectural salvage, and furniture. You can find a full list of accepted items here.
  • We’ve also put together a list of organizations that accept various donations (check their current status given COVID). Find where you can donate your gently used household goods here.
  • Community reuse is also one of the best (and often easiest) ways to donate household items you no longer need or want. Try posting your goods on KSL Classifieds, the NextDoor app, Facebook Marketplace, LetGo, and any number of others. Tell us what you’re using in the comments below!

Too Much Bulk? Call 2 Haul is Here

What if there’s too much? If your summer cleaning took the form of upgrading your major appliances or getting a new mattress, don’t forget that the Waste & Recycling Division can help you get rid of the old ones. Salt Lake City curbside customers can schedule a once-annual pick-up with Call 2 Haul to clean out bulky waste.

Call 2 Haul accepts things like old furniture, tires, electronic waste, mattresses, large limbs, bagged/boxed miscellaneous material, and more.

Specialty Recycling

Getting rid of household waste in an environmentally safe way can be a challenge, but there are many specialty recyclers that will help you recycle everything from block Styrofoam to tires.

Household Hazardous Waste

Paint can be responsibly disposed of at the Household Hazardous Waste drop-off area at the Salt Lake Valley Landfill.

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Do you have Household Hazardous Waste (HHW)? This includes things like paint, pesticides, fuel, cleaning supplies, and more. These items can pollute our land, water, and air, so it’s critical to dispose of them responsibly.

Thankfully, after taking a brief hiatus due to COVID this spring, the Salt Lake County Health Department has reopened the HHW drop-off area at the Salt Lake Valley Landfill. Their hours and procedures have changed slightly, so please make note:

  • The Household Hazardous Waste drop-off at the Salt Lake Valley Landfill is only open to the public on Fridays and Saturdays 9 am – 5 pm.
  • Business waste is accepted by appointment only Monday – Thursday. Large quantities such as drums are to be scheduled for Monday -Thursday.
  • No containers will be returned to customers.
  • The Reuse Shed is closed indefinitely.
  • HHW will be closed on all County Holidays.

Don’t Forget to Upcycle!

If you can’t make good use out of your old household goods, remember you can always upcycle them in various ways. Old clothing, sheets, and towels can be used to make cleaning rags and drop cloths, and can even cut into strips to stake and tie plants in the garden. Old drawers can be turned into funky shelving. Even a rickety old ladder might make the perfect bookshelf!

If you need inspiration for your next upcycle project, Salt Lake City is asking for help making face masks, so now you can even upcycle for a good cause! Clever Octopus has some kits to get you started, and the CDC has several design options you can try.

As our communities continue to find ways to navigate life during a pandemic, it is important to remember that we can still live sustainably. Making use of second-hand resources is a great way to reduce waste and help the environment, and we can keep safe by wearing masks, social distancing, and following other COVID-19 precautions.

The CDC has all the information you need about face masks.

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