Where To Donate...
Eyeglasses & Sunglasses

eyeglasses

According to eHow, there are an estimated 1 billion people that need eyeglasses but cannot afford to purchase a pair. In some countries, a person would have to work for 3 months to be able to afford a pair of basic glasses.

People get rid of glasses for all sorts of reasons - fashion, outdated prescriptions and broken frames being high on the list. Instead of tossing your glasses in the trash, why not send them off to be recycled, salvaged for parts and reused? Not only are prescription and reading glasses needed for individuals with sight problems, but sunglasses are donated to people living close to the equator to protect their eyes from sun damage.

Look below for a drop-off location near you. If you can’t find one, some of the charities below have addresses where donations can be sent. It’s important to make sure prescription eyeglasses go to a charity with a reliable recycling center so that lens can be properly restored and prescription strength’s recorded.

OneSight - Probably one of the largest vision charities in the world, OneSight distributes eyeglasses internationally helping approximately 7 million people to date. Drop off locations are divided by region. Click on your region to find a drop-off location near you. If you’d like to see where they’ve given in 2009, click here.

North America
Asia Pacific (Inc. Australia + New Zealand)
Europe

Lions Club International - The Lions Club International has 6 International recycling facilities (Canada, Australia, Italy, France, Spain and South Africa) and 11 Domestic recycling facilities that accept eyeglasses by mail. Click here for the one nearest you. Eyeglasses can also be mailed to their headquarters at:

Lions Clubs International Headquarters
Attention: Receiving Department
300 W. 22nd Street
Oak Brook, IL 60523, USA

A drop-off location might be available near you. Check with your local Lion’s Club to find out if there is one in your neighborhood.

LensCrafters - Each LensCrafters retail location has a drop-box where old eyeglasses and sunglasses can be dropped off. Through their partnership with OneSight, LensCrafters provides free eyeglasses and eye exams to people both domestically and abroad. Domestic recipients are recommended through local agencies, school, and Lions Club branches. Click here for a LensCrafters near you.

New Eyes for the Needy - New Eyes for the Needy also works in developing countries and domestically. Eyeglasses and sunglasses can be droped off or mailed to their office at:

New Eyes for the Needy
549 Millburn Avenue
PO Box 332
Short Hills, NJ 07078

Make sure to click here for instructions on how to ship packages.

Household Rechargeable Batteries

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Rechargable Household Batteries include “standard” batteries (AAA, AA, A, D, C, Watch, Hearing Aid) and Batteries found in Laptops, Phones, Power Tools, Digital Camaras, Camcorders and Remote Control Toys. Due to all of the chemicals that make our gadgets run without being plugged into a wall, batteries are extremely toxic to the environment when they go out with the rest of the garbage. Large quantities of batteries in landfills can lead to contaminated groundwater and a host of other icky things.

My home state of California has the strictest battery recycling guidelines in the country. There, all types of batteries, including single use ones, are considered hazardous and have mandated ways of being disposed. If you’re a California resident, click here to find out how to dispose of single use batteries. You’ll have to contact your local agency - this page divides them up by county for you.

That said, everyone can click here to find a drop off center near you. Simply enter your zip code and you’ll literally get dozens of results. These drop off points will (or should) accept any type of battery that can be recharged. If you’re unsure of what qualifies, use this nifty little tool to figure it out! Just scroll over each room in the house and it tells you some items you might not have thought of!

Bicycles

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In many third world countries, a bicycle can make a life-changing difference where the only other transportation option is walking. Its the difference between being able to attend school or increase marketplace sales.

I havn’t owned a bicycle in lord knows how long, but I know plenty of people that have one rotting away in their garage. Since bikes are kind of bulky (only kinda), all of the organizations below operate regionally. I hope you can find one near you!

Bikes for the World: DC Area but also includes New York, North Carolina, and Virginia Sites

Bikes for the World is a nonprofit group out of the Washington, DC area that provides bicycles to community development programs in third world countries. Some of the bikes are provided at low cost in exchange for community service and others are provided as rewards to students who do well in school and have to travel long distance to attend class. Bikes for the World also has a domestic program called the Rockville Youth Bicycle Project which offers kids the change to earn a refurbished bicycle for doing community service. Upcoming collection dates and sites can be found here.

Working Bikes Cooperative: Chicago, IL but includes various Illinois, Iowa, Wisconsin and Indiana drop-off locations

Working Bikes Cooperative restores bicycles and distributes them for free both locally and internationally. International bicycles are donated to individuals who rely on them as a primary source of transportation. Local bikes are donated to day camps and city programs.

See how to donate by clicking here. You can also see where recent donations have gone by clicking here.

Pedal Revoluation: San Francisco, CA

A non-profit bike shop in San Francisco that refurbishes used bicycles and teaches at risk youth how to ride and repair them. Their store is located at:

3085 21st Street at South Van Ness)
San Francisco, CA 94110

You can visit their site here.

Cylces of Change: Alameda, CA

Taken directly from their site: “Cycles of Change’s primary strategic goal is to enable as many youth and adults as possible in the East Bay’s flatlands communities to use bicycles as a healthy, low-cost, efficient, safe form of primary transportation. For the past 10 years, Cycles and partner agencies have been working to build a network of neighborhood-based bicycle education and distribution programs that can serve the basic transportation needs of hundreds of Alameda County’s residents." Cycles of Change accepts bicycles for donation and recycling (if not up to donation par). Visit their site here for more details.

Recycle a Bicycle: New York, NY

Recycle a Bicycle works with children in NYC public schools and after-school programs. Visit their page here for details.


Community Bike Programs: If you did not find an organization near you, check here. This is a directory of Community Bike Programs in the US by state. You’ll have to check with the actual program in your area to see if they are accepting used bikes.

Cell Phones

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How many cell phones do you have lying around the house that you don’t use anymore? If you’re like alot of people I know, every 11 or 22 months you get a new one (as soon as they let you have an upgrade!).

The current estimate is that there are 30 million unused cell phones lying around people’s homes right now. Less then 1% of cell phones are recycled. Below are some pretty awesome organizations that could use your old phone.

Cell Phones for Soldiers: Started in 2004 by a 13 year old girl and her 12 year old brother. Old cell phones are sold and the money is used to purchase calling cards for active soldiers to call home with. Postage paid envelopes can be printed here from the site or you can provide your own postage, which helps to stretch the dollars even more. Phones can be mailed to:

The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence: My personal cell phone charity of choice. The Coalition collects old cell phones and distributes them to domestic violence victims so that the can always call 911.

Cell Phones for Life: Senior citizens, disabled individuals and batter women’s shelters are provided cell phones that can dial 911 in case they they have an accident or emergency. Phones can either be sent by mail or if you have more then 6 phones, UPS will pick them up for free. The address to send phones to is:

Cell Phones for Life
24 N. Washington St.
Ardmore, OK 73401

Call to Protect: taken directly from their website…”The national CALL TO PROTECT program enables people to retire their wireless phones in a manner that will help the environment and raise funds for national organizations working to end partner violence. Funds generated through CALL TO PROTECT collections have provided grants totaling over $3.5 million to agencies leading the campaign against domestic violence.” Click the link for a drop-off location near you.

The Collective Good: This is for people who want some incentive to get off their butts : )

The Collective Good allows you to decide if you want the money raised from your donated cell phone goes to a charity of your choice (over 700 to choose from) or to yo pockets! Click here to get started.

In-Store Recycling: Several stores including Radio Shack, Best Buy, Office Depot and Staples have in-store cell phone recycling bins where old phnes can be dropped off at your leisure. Click any stores link to go directly to that stores locator page. This is a way better option then throwing your phone away because all of the toxic chemicals from the battery and various parts can be disposed of properly.

Shoes

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Runner’s Feet, Malawi, Africa
Photo by Amy Gottlieb, Center for Disease Control, Global AIDS


If there is one thing I love more then anything else, its shoe shopping. I could spend all of my time and money on it if you let me. Which also means that I have WAY more shoes then necessary. So once a year, I go through my closet and donate any shoes or clothing that I havn’t worn in the previous 365 days. This ensures two things:

1. I don’t end up with a pair of shoes from a decade ago that I forgot existed

2. It stops me from holding onto shoes for nostalgic reasons or because they go really well with one outfit that I never wear.

3. It prevents me from holding onto shoes simply because I spent a lot of money on them.

Having a clear objective criteria for something as awesome as shoes really helps when parting ways with an item you love so much.

I personally love donating shoes because its easy to take for granted the millions of people worldwide don’t have even a single pair to protect their feet. So, depending on you’d like to give to something local or international, or if you just want to be green and recycle your shoes, I have plenty of options for you.

Domestic Shoe Donation Programs (US + Canada)

International Shoe Donation Programs

Shoe Recycling Programs

Styrofoam

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Chances are, if you’ve purchased a new appliance you’re familiar with the tons and tons of styrofoam that are included in the box. Chances probably also are that you feel bad for throwing it out but don’t think there’s anything else you can do it with it. These places will accept your old packing buffers:

Your Local Crafting Store: Places like Michaels, Joann’s, Pearl and A.C. Moore are usually happy to take that stuff off of your hands. Chunks of styrofoam are often necessary for crafting projects so  they like to have it on hand to give to customers or to use during one of the classes that they often offer.

Your Local Nursery or Home Gardener: Styrofoam is a very handy product to use when potting plants. Packing peanuts and broken up styrofoam work just as well, if not better, then rocks at the bottom of planters. It allows water to drain so that roots are not submerged in water. Find a local nursery by typing “plant nursery” into the google search and checking what local businesses pop up.

Your Local Packaging Store: This category is especially useful for those annoying packaging peanuts. The UPS Store or UHaul can use those little suckers to help people that are boxing stuff up.

Craigslist: You know how theres that section of free stuff? Well one of the things people look for there is moving items. This method is also handy if you’re looking to get rid of both the styrofoam AND the box.