If you've used this extra time at home to finally clean out your cluttered garage or purge your overstuffed closet, you are not alone.
Matthew Flores, the director of marketing for Goodwill Industries of Southern Arizona, says that although the number of individuals donating used items appears to have decreased in the past few months, the size of the actual donations has increased.
"People who have been home have whole cars loaded up or trailers loaded up," he says.
If this is you — or you have a corner of cast-offs you haven't dealt with yet — there are a few things you need to know. Also, as with everything, please check with individual organizations for updated information as things continue to change and stores re-open.
1. There are places accepting donations of used items.
A number of Goodwill locations are accepting donations, although some of the thrift stores themselves are still closed. Flores says that there are plans for a phased re-opening in May. For now, visit goodwillsouthernaz.org/donate for updated information about locations accepting donations — and please don't dump your stuff outside if your Goodwill of choice is not. That's happening and it's not safe for the Goodwill staff who have to deal with it.
"We don't know when that donation got there, so we can't safely quarantine it," Flores says.
At locations that are accepting donations, you'll find two bins outside. Take one donation receipt, and then distribute your items into the appropriate bins — one for hard goods and one for clothing. When the bins fill up, donations are then set aside and left untouched for at least three days. Because no attendants will be helping you, only donate what you personally can lift into a bin and save the rest for later.
Certain Goodwill locations are also accepting donations of pet food and supplies to donate to Pima Animal Care Center, along with new and unopened cleaning supplies and personal protective equipment in partnership with the Pima County Health Department, says Flores.
Also make sure you note what stores will and will not accept. Make sure what you're donating is not junk.
"We appreciate people's generosity, but a broken toaster is not a gift to us," Flores says. "It's a cost. That's going to go directly to the landfill and we have to pay that fee. ... Make sure that when you're donating, it's a gift and something of value and you're not just decluttering and looking to pass your waste off for someone else to deal with."
Other places accepting donations:
• Salvation Army Family Store and Donation Center on Oracle Road, 5757 N. Oracle Road, is accepting donations of secondhand items Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Visit salvationarmytucson.org/family-thrift-stores for more information.
• We Care Tucson (formerly World Care), 3029 N. Stone Ave., is accepting donations of medical equipment and working and non-working electronics (no broken TVs or cathode-ray tube televisions, please) in bins outside the office. Visit wecaretucson.org for more information.
• Rise Equipment and Recycling Center, 1134 S. Park Ave., is accepting donations of working and non-working electronics outside by the donation gate Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Starting May 11, the store will be open with only six people allowed inside at once. For more information about donations, visit riseequipmentrecycling.org.
• The Humane Society of Southern Arizona's Thrift Store, 5311 E. Speedway, posted on its Facebook page that it will re-open Friday, May 8 and will accept donations during store hours. Go here for more information.
• The Casa de los Niños Thrift Store will begin accepting donations again May 21. Visit casadelosninos.org for more information.
2. Consider scheduling a pickup for big items.
The thrift store connected to TMM Family Services, which serves vulnerable children, families and seniors, will schedule a free pickup to collect your unwanted appliances, furniture and home improvement materials. Visit tmmfs.org or call 520-326-1936 for more information.
The City of Tucson is still continuing its scheduled Brush and Bulky collections for its residents. Cristina Polsgrove, the city's environmental services spokesperson, suggests scheduling a special Brush and Bulky pickup. For around $55 (the price can vary if the pickup is larger or takes longer to collect), you can get rid of green waste such as tree trunks and cacti (cacti must be contained in a box), furniture, scrap metal, appliances and more. Make sure you check the list of what you can and cannot leave out on your curb for Brush and Bulky. The size limit is 10-cubic yards. For context, an average washing machine is about 1 cubic-yard.
If $55 seems steep for what you want to get rid of, Polsgrove suggests going in on it with a neighbor. Visit tucsonaz.gov/es/brush-and-bulky for more information.
3. If you can help it, skip a visit to the landfill.
This brings us to our next point. Polsgrove says an increase in traffic at the Los Reales Landfill combined with added safety precautions caused long lines last month.
And while the Los Reales Landfill and the Pima County-owned transfer stations are open, if you can wait for your regular trash day, Polsgrove suggests doing that.
"We're basically asking people to listen to the guidelines from the CDC and every government," she says. "If you can stay home, stay home. That's our message. If you don't have to go to the landfill or you can wait until your Brush and Bulky collection comes up, please do so."
4. Make some money.
You can sell your clothes to Buffalo Exchange through the Tucson company's sell-by-mail option. Request a free, prepaid shipping bag online and fill it with your clean clothes — each bag holds 20 to 40 pieces. The store buys current clothing for men and women in like-new condition.
For whatever Buffalo Exchange chooses to purchase, you'll receive 25 percent of the selling price in cash via PayPal or 50 percent in store trade.
Whatever they don't purchase, you can pay to have shipped back to you, or just let Buffalo Exchange donate those items to a nonprofit.
Here's a handy list of what to pack and what to skip and directions for mailing your pieces.
The Tucson location of Buffalo Exchange, 2001 E. Speedway, will also be opening with limited hours Friday, May 8, according to a press release. You'll be able to drop pieces off by appointment only. Visit buffaloexchange.com for more information.
5. Crowd-source or hang on to things.
This is less satisfying than clearing out your house with one trip to a donation center, but loading up your trunk or reserving a corner of your garage for cast-offs is also a really good option as you wait for your favorite thrift stores to implement safe donation procedures.
Polsgrove also suggests reaching out to your neighbors and friends to see if anyone can use what you're discarding. She points out that this is a great option for half-used bottles of things such as pool chemicals or pesticides (the city is not currently collecting hazardous waste) or pieces that someone craftier than you could easily upcycle.
And who knows? Maybe if you keep those old books and that wonky chair in storage long enough, someday they'll once again spark joy.