This section focuses on reuse and recycling resources in the Chicagoland area, for help as you declutter your home. We continue to add more information so please check our site from time to time. Note that this information changes often; if you notice anything that is outdated, please let us know via the Contact Form.
THE WASTE SHED
The WasteShed is a creative reuse center in the Humboldt Park area of Chicago. They collect reusable art and school materials that would otherwise be thrown away, and make them available to teachers, artists and anyone else who needs them, at low cost. For additional information, click here.
Donations are accepted at 2842 W. Chicago Avenue from 11:00am to 6:00pm, Tuesday through Saturday. All donations must be in clean and usable condition. Well-organized donations are much appreciated! Make sure you call first. Sometimes the store will not accept donations for a period of time, when the inventory is backlogged.
Paint (no house paint or spray paint please), dyes, brushes, ink, hot glue guns, glue, art tools, stencils, pencils, pens, markers, pastels, charcoal, ceramic tools and glazes, pencil sharpeners, mineral spirits, cutting mats, mold making and casting materials.
Fake flowers, doll making supplies, candle wax, soap/candy molds, pipe cleaners, googly eyes, pom-poms, craft foam, marbles, pins, board games/puzzles, beads, jewelry, magnets, corks, masks and small costume elements, seashells.
Copy paper, rolls of paper, construction paper, cardstock, art paper and pads, origami paper, posters.
Stickers, scrapbook paper, rubber stamps and stamp pads, calendars, playing cards, postcards, National Geographics, select other magazines (please ask for details), maps, old photos.
Fabric and Notions
Fabric yardage only (1/2 yard and larger), yarn and knitting needles, cords and laces, lace, elastic, zippers, bobbins, thread, buttons, sewing tools, embroidery hoops, ribbon, fasteners, leather, felt, patterns.
Binders (2 inch or narrower only), post-its, thumbtacks, staples, paperclips, writing utensils, scissors, hole-punches, staplers, tape dispensers, organizers, transparencies, sheet protectors, labels, envelopes, tape, notebooks, clipboards.
Foam core, poster board, mat board, frames, old signs, plexiglass, silkscreens, vinyl lettering, hanging hardware, canvases (painted or new), easels.
Mason or baby food jars, tins, plastic organizer boxes, Rubbermaid tubs, jewelry boxes, buckets, cigar boxes, film canisters.
Tissue paper, greeting cards (unused), party decorations, ribbons, bows, rolls of gift wrap, gift bags, bubble wrap.
Wallpaper, mosaic tile, paint swatches, mirrors, shelf brackets.
Wire, keys, nails, screws, bottle caps, drafting lamps, light kits, Xacto knives, most smaller tools, working light bulbs.
Working Bikes gives donated bicycles new life by redistributing them as tools of empowerment in local and global communities. They provide free bikes to communities in need, locally and worldwide. They accept donations of bikes in repairable condition, as well as bike parts and accessories. Donations can be made directly to the warehouse/shop at 2434 S. Western Ave. any time during store hours. In addition, there are many drop-off locations all over Chicago and the suburbs - click here to find a location near you.
Try your local library - many will sell used books as a way to generate extra funds. I take many book donations to the Wilmette Public Library, where they run Books Down Under. Note that they will also take sheet music, CDs, and DVDs. There is a drop-off door in the back, near the parking lot. Donation guidelines are:
- Gently used books in good condition
- Fiction or nonfiction, for adults or children
- Classics in good condition
- Recent best sellers
- CDs/DVDs in good working condition
- Sheet music and records
Not Accepted -
- Books in poor condition
- Damaged/torn/broken bindings
- Dirty/moldy/water damaged
- Highlights, underlining, or markings
- Encyclopedia sets
- Dated nonfiction
- Outdated travel or technology books
BERNIE'S BOOK BANK
This organization accepts all new and gently used children’s books for birth through 6th grade level. However, they cannot use textbooks, dictionaries, activity books, coloring books, reference material, religious books or foreign language books (dual language OK).
For additional information and drop-off locations and hours, click here.
SWANCC (Solid Waste Agency of Northern Cook County)
This is an excellent resource for recyling! There are many locations for electronic recycling, although the hours vary - generally they are open one or two days a week, for a few hours. I recommend you check when you are ready to purge, as hours and locations do change fairly often. Click here for all the locations, hours, and accepted items.
SWALCO (Solid Waste Agency of Lake County)
Another great resource, but a bit further north of Chicago. Note the some locations (including Highland Park) accept clothing and textiles, as well as shoes. Click here for added details - locations, hours and accepted items.
Furniture is becoming increasingly difficult to donate, as donations typically exceed the market for used items. And furniture takes up a lot of inventory space. If you have items that are in good condition, there are some options that you can try. The more lead time you have, the better. Note that we are not aware of any places that will accept used mattresses.
Brown Elephant is a thrift store whose proceeds fund the Howard Brown Health Center. Howard Brown serves more than 27,000 adults and youth each year in its diverse health and social service delivery system focused around the LGBTQ community. They will pick-up furniture, once approved, for a suggested $25 donation. For additional information about accepted donations and their pick-up service, click here.
CHICAGO FURNITURE BANK
This is a great organization that collects donations of gently used furniture and household goods. These items are then distributed to families and individuals transitioning into supportive housing, turning empty spaces into comfortable homes. Note that there is a pick-up fee (varies from $100 to $200 depending on volume) which covers their expenses. To fill out a pick-up request, click here.
Hadassah is a volunteer women’s organization with over 300,000 members, who enhance the health of people worldwide through its support of medical care and research. Their thrift shop in Deerfield helps fund the organization. They accept a number of items for donation including furniture. Best to check with them regarding the furniture that you have. Additional information can be found here.
Humble Design partners with local area homeless and abuse shelters to identify families that are emerging from shelters and into low-income housing. Many of these families are victims of abuse and have left behind all personal items upon escaping and entering an emergency shelter. Most have no beds, books, toys or furniture to call their own. To schedule a furniture pick-up, click here. Note that they ask for a $100 donation to cover costs.
Make sure you donate only unopened and unexpired personal care items; best to try your local food pantry. I take a number of items to the Northfield Township pantry, including paper goods. They have a number of drop-off places on the North Shore. To find one near you, click for: Donation Information
CONNECTIONS FOR THE HOMELESS
This organization not only provides shelter, but also has programs to help end homelessness. In-kind donations that are needed include: food, toiletries, healthcare items, housewares and adult clothing. Donations may be delivered to:
- Hilda's Place, 1458 Chicago Avenue, Evanston - from 6pm to 9pm, 7 days a week
- Main Office (2121 Dewey Avenue, Evanston - from 8:30am to 4:30pm, Monday through Friday
For additional information, click here.