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Where in San Francisco to donate your joyless items during the pandemic

Streamline your life by decluttering your home

a series of hanging lightbulbs attached to cords.
It’s time to get rid of your Edison light fixtures.
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More than on year after of Netflix’s Tidying Up with Marie Kondo, based on Marie Kondo’s book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, wherein people of varying degrees slovenliness are shown how to improve their lives by decluttering their homes, a surplus of joy-free junk filled thrift and consignment stores.

Or rather, they did until shelter-in-place orders went into effect. But if you’re stuck at home with a plethora of used items, you can still find ways to get rid of your junk.

In light of the Covidian era, here’s a local list of places in San Francisco and the Bay Area where you can still recycle or dump items that no longer have room in your life.


Clothes

If the items you choose to purge from your closet are up to snuff, you can try selling them online via Poshmark.

Style-prone purgers will have to wait for stores like Crossroads and Buffalo Exchange (who select attire based on season, style, label, and wear and tear) to reopen.

You can also donate your clothes homeless shelters like Raphael House (Tendernob) and St. Anthony’s Foundation (Tenderloin) by appointment only, which you can scheduled via their website. Walk-in drop offs are no longer welcome.

Please keep in mind that donations centers are not garbage cans—you cannot throw away unwearable, ripped, or soiled clothing at these centers. Instead, head to US Again to recycle your clothes. There are 10 drop-off locations in San Francisco.

Books/papers

The controversial portion of Tidying Up is the difficult, yet possibly rewarding, chore of getting rid of unnecessary books. I did it, and I haven’t looked back.

During pre-Covidian times, you could donate books to San Francisco, Oakland, or Berkeley library systems. However, now that libraries are closed for the time being, you can’t.

You can try to shelve books inside one of San Francisco’s many Little Free Libraries.

Outside of the city, books can be sent to the Prisoners Literature Project.

Also, as Lifehacker points out, a great way of reducing the amount of paper in your life is by switching your bills and bank notifications to auto-pay and e-statements. Check out these articles for more info on moving toward a paper-free life.

Komono (miscellany)

This includes everything from tech to furniture to sneakers. But let’s start with the kitchen because that’s where people seem to have the most joyless items.

Kitchen: Onion choppers, avocado slicers, and—yes—arguably pointless garlic presses clutter up kitchens. A sharp knife will do what these clunky and pointless items can do, only better. Recycle these items, but remember to clean them first.

Also, if you’re not having regular dinner parties at least once a year—and during these trying times, who is?—your abundance of plates, glassware, and silverware can go. Goodwill and local shelters, once they reopen, will happily take these items off your plate.

Most kitchenware made of plastic or glass can also be recycled.

Tech: Any device tied to a personal account, from computers and phones to tablets and smart home device, should be scrubbed of data before selling. (Facebook, Nextdoor, and Craigslist have portals for selling tech gadgets, which are still going strong during shelter-in-place.) Big-box stores like Best Buy, Office Depot, and Staples all have buy-back programs for their own products. Apple will recycle any Apple device for proper disposal. (Who knows—your Apple device might even be eligible device for a gift card or a partial refund.)

The city of San Francisco will pick up your bulky items for disposal twice per year for free for residents. Schedule a pick up with Recology’s Bulky Item Recycling program. (I use it regularly, especially after I downsized my life in order to get a better night’s sleep.)

You can also recycle unsellable tech items at the SF Transfer Station where you can dispose of up to 30 electronic items per month for free.

Furniture: Nice furniture can be offered up on Craigslist or a sidewalk/garage sale. Please note that unless you have a great eye for design and your furniture is in excellent condition, you will need to make a signification price chop on items you sell. This goes double for selling furniture to colleagues.

Craigslist is also good for getting people to come to your place to haul away goods.

Mattresses can also be scheduled for a pick up with Recology’s Bulky Item Recycling program. Though unadvisable, many residents tend to leave old mattresses out on the sidewalk with the hope of passersby taking them away. It’s bad form, but people do it.

Bayview Greenwaste Management Co. (SF) and Bee Green Recycling and Supply (Oakland) are classic dump yards. Call them for more information about hours and bulk dumping.

Other items: This Popular Science article will tell you how to recycle a myriad of odds and ends, from toothbrushes to worn-out Converse sneakers.

Sentimental value

Sentimental items (like old family photos, furniture, heirlooms, jewelry) that you no longer want can be passed on to other family members or friends.

You can also try selling items to antique shops (once they reopen, of course), like Grand Central Station Antiques (Bayview) or any number of consignment shops.

Hoarding is a disorder where people have attached significance to unneeded items or items of no value that would otherwise be considered trash. Hoarding exacerbates when a sufferer’s home turns into a fire hazard (due to blocked exits and stacks of flammable objects) or a health hazard. Cognitive behavior therapy is regarded as the best treatment.