Sustainable Donation Guide

Updated: Apr 27

Have you ever found yourself at the charity shop unloading bags and bags of belongings you no longer need, when you suddenly think ‘where does this stuff end up?’



Charity shops may not always be the best option for our unwanted stuff, but often they are the first and only option we consider. And our obsession with stuff is causing charity shops to spend millions on sending unsaleable items to landfill. So, how do we become better at finding new homes for our unwanted belongings?


First up we need to understand that rehoming or repurposing an item is a more sustainable option than recycling. Recycling requires more resources to process the materials into a new product. And recycling is a business. If there is no demand for that material, it will not be recycled.


Charity shops are also a business. They require goods in a saleable condition. If you wouldn’t give that t-shirt to a friend, don’t give it to the charity shop. Also consider the seasons. A beach towel is more likely to sell in summer, and a heater more likely to sell in winter.


Items that wouldn’t be accepted by a charity shop may find a home within your neighbourhood through gifting groups like Buy Nothing, local groups like gardening clubs, organisations for people in need such as refugees, or even preschools and playgroups.


Always check accepted donation lists and guidelines. These vary between organisations, stores and even due to stock levels.


Due to restrictions during COVID-19 many charities are not accepting donations. Please call and check prior to dropping off donations. If possible, the most sustainable thing to do is to hold onto your unwanted goods until a time when they can be donated appropriately for reuse.




This guide will help you rehome, repurpose or recycle your unwanted belongings.


Give in your local community applies to almost every category listed below and there are so many online groups available to serve this purpose. Try Buy Nothing, Gum Tree, Freecycle, Ziilch or Facebook Marketplace.


BABY/KIDS

St Kilda Mums (Melbourne)

Mums Supporting Families in Need (Melbourne)

Mummies Paying It Forward (Sydney)

Local Facebook Mum's groups

Salvos, Vinnies, Savers, RSPCA, Brotherhood of St Laurence and local charity shops

Check accepted donated item lists and guidelines, especially on items like car seats, strollers and cots


BATTERIES

Batteries should never be put in the recycling bin or in your waste bin

Donate at ALDI, Battery World, Office Works - some stores


BEDDING/TOWELS

Local Animal Shelters and Vets

Local Mechanics who can use for rags

Sheridan Stores for quilt covers, sheets and towels


BOOKS

Local second hand bookstores, Brotherhood Books, Footpath Library, Street Library


BOOKS (children)

Local preschools, schools, doctors offices and children’s hospitals,

123 READ 2 ME (Victoria)

The Australian Literacy & Numeracy Foundation


BRAS

Uplift Bras - also collects women’s swimwear, new underpants and fabric nappies. Local Intimo consultant may also accept donations

Support the Girls


BICYCLES

Bikes 4 Life collects, restores and provide bicycles to the most marginalised & impoverished communities around the world

The Bike Shed (Melbourne) - also offers repair education service.

Back2Bikes (Melbourne) - also offers repair education service and provides recycled bikes for people in need.


BUILDING/PLUMBING SUPPLIES

Habitat ReStore (Victoria) - check accepted donated item lists and guidelines


CARDBOARD MOVING BOXES

Give in your local community: Buy Nothing, Gum Tree, Freecycle, Ziilch, Facebook Marketplace


CDs & DVDS

Salvos, Vinnies, Savers, RSPCA, Brotherhood of St Laurence and local charity shops - for unscratched discs

Office Works - for recycling


CLEANING PRODUCTS

Detox Your Home events (Melbourne)

House Chemical Cleanout (Sydney)

FoodBank accepts unopened cleaning products


CLOTHING/SHOES/HANDBAGS/ACCESSORIES/JEWELRY

Fitted for Work, Wear for Success, Dress for Success accept business attire and accessories to clothe people searching for employment

Salvos, Vinnies, Savers, RSPCA, Brotherhood of St Laurence and local charity shops

SCR Group, KING Cotton and other textile recyclers for clothes, socks, underwear not suitable for donation

H&M, ZARA & ManRags take clothing back for recycling

Local consignment stores for high quality classic and on trend pieces

Sell on EBAY, Gumtree, Facebook Marketplace, also look for Facebook BUY/SELL groups for dedicated brands


COMPUTERS

Computer Bank refurbishes computers and offers to disadvantaged individuals and community groups

Asylum Seekers Centre refurbishes laptops, tablets and smartphones for asylum seekers to study, look for work and contact family overseas

National Television & Computer Recycling Scheme


CONTACT LENSES

Terracycle collections points


CRAFT MATERIALS

Local preschools and kindergartens - they may also take items like egg cartons and toilet paper rolls


ELECTRICAL GOODS - small

(toasters, radios, dvd players, etc)

Salvos, Vinnies, Savers, RSPCA, Brotherhood of St Laurence and local charity shops - check your local store for accepted donations

GIVE NOW - to locate organisations assisting refugees, unemployed and homeless


ELECTRICAL GOODS - large

(TV’s, computers, white goods, etc)

Salvos, Vinnies, Savers, RSPCA, Brotherhood of St Laurence and local charity shops - check your local store for accepted donations

GIVE NOW - to locate organisations assisting refugees, unemployed and homeless


E-WASTE

If it has a plug, battery or cord – it’s e-waste.

ALL e-waste is banned from landfill in Victoria

Victoria drop off locations

Australia Wide drop off locations


FOOD

Check your local area for drop off points at supermarkets, council offices and churches

FoodBank (Australia) - also collects unopened toiletries & household cleaning products

Compost out-of-date food where possible


FURNITURE

Refugee or women's shelters are often in need of furniture - search your local area

Salvos, Vinnies, Savers, RSPCA, Brotherhood of St Laurence and local charity shops -check your local store for accepted donations, and for collection information on larger items.

Habitat ReStore (Victoria) - check accepted donated item lists and guidelines


GAMES & TOYS

Local Toy Library, Children’s Hospitals, Preschools & Schools and Doctors Offices

Second Chance Toys (Sydney)

Salvos, Vinnies, Savers, RSPCA, Brotherhood of St Laurence and local charity shops - check your local store for accepted donations


GARDEN TOOLS

Tool Libraries, Schools, Community Gardens and Garden Clubs


GLASSES (prescription)

Recycle for Sight - collection points at Specsavers stores


HOMEWARES/KITCHENWARE

Salvos, Vinnies, Savers, RSPCA, Brotherhood of St Laurence and local charity shops


LIGHT BULBS

Recycling Near You (Australia)


MAGAZINES

Local Hairdressers, Cafes, Doctor Offices and Retirement Homes


MATTRESSES

Bed Collect and Soft Landing collect mattresses for recycling

Your local council may collect as hard waste, but you will need to check if they recycle


MEDICINE

RUM - Return Unwanted Medicine program

You can return prescription medicines, over-the-counter medicines, herbal or complementary supplements, gels, liquids, or topical creams to your local pharmacy


MOBILE PHONES

GIVE NOW - to locate organisations assisting refugees, unemployed and homeless

Mobile Muster to recycle your handset


OFFICE ITEMS

Green Collect accepts an array of office supplies including: stationery, small electrical, floppy disks/dvds/vhs/batteries/light globes, document trays/magazine racks, whiteboards, shredders, letterhead, paper and envelopes


PAINT

Paintback diverts unwanted paint and packaging from ending up in landfill and vital waterways


PLASTIC GARDEN POTS

Local schools, community gardens or garden clubs

Garden stores and plant nurseries may accepts pot return


SPORTING GOODS & SHOES

Shoes for Planet Earth - collection points around Australia and New Zealand

Victorian Save Our Soles is a Victorian initiative to recycle sports shoes at selected shoe stores including Rebel Sports.

Boots for All (Victoria) - collection boxes available for those not located near a collection site

Fair Game (Western Australia)

Boots For Africa - collecting pre‐loved football boots and delivering them to children and young adults across Africa


STATIONERY

Green Collect - accepts stationery items, such as tape dispensers, pens, pencils, sticky notes, highlighters, rubber bands, erasers, hole punchers, letterhead, paper and envelopes. They also resell items in good condition

Salvos, Vinnies, Savers, RSPCA, Brotherhood of St Laurence and local charity shops

Office Works and Terracyle have collection points for pens & markers


TEXTILES

Boomerang Bags accepts leftover quilting fabric, doona covers or pillow cases and turns them into reusable shopping bags


TOILETRIES - (unopened)

Share the Dignity, Pinchapoo, The Beauty Bank, FoodBank



AUSTRALIA & VICTORIA RESOURCES

Victoria - Sustainability Victoria

Australia - Recycling Near You

Australia - Op Shop Listing find a charity shop near you

Australia - Refugee Council has a database to locate organisations collecting goods

Australia - GIVE NOW find a not-for-profit to donate your pre-loved items to


WORLDWIDE RECYCLING RESOURCES

USA - Earth911

UK - Recycle Now



Are you trying to rehome, repurpose or recycle something that’s not listed here? Comment below and I’ll look for a solution.

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