For the last several weeks, I’ve been dealing with trying to get stuff we have out of the house. Partially because we’ll move in the summer (not far but still it’s a move). Partially because I’ve realized that our current place is much bigger than we need and the extra space is just leading us to accumulate stuff . Partially because baby’s stuff is starting to take over the house. Partially because I’m realizing that between hubby lack of organization and just the stuff we have, it’s stressing me out. And yes, I might have watched a bit too much Marie Kondo 🙂

At any rate, first on the list are items that we truly don’t need anymore. Clothes that baby has outgrown. Postpartum care items. The co sleeper we used for the first six months. The infant car seat. Fertility medicines. And it’s been surprisingly hard to work out what to do with some things.

Stuff like the cosleeper or carseat are easy — we had hoped to have another child and at any rate, aren’t sure if we’re done so we’re packing those away for the future. Outgrown baby clothes go into a pile to donate and one to keep for future use.

But some of the other stuff is hard. Postpartum care items — I have piles of perineum ice packs, an unopened set of adult diapers, and an unopened box of breast pads. I don’t need them anymore and it’s not the sort of thing that I intend to carry from house to house for a second child. And it’s also the sort of thing that must be useful to someone – a women’s shelter maybe? A couple of hours later (and many web searches, emails and phone calls), I realized that it’s surprisingly hard to donate such items. For reasons that make no sense to me. Ok, I get that some places only serve a certain age group and postpartum is a very specific one. The one local place that did accept them, I’m not sure I want to donate to (their website language reads very anti-choice and I’m not sure I want to support that). Eventually I found a place in Maine (!) that accepts (unused) medical supplies for donation to developing countries. All my space needles from fertility treatments are going there too.

Another pile of stuff I wanted to donate was my insulin – I have a few vials when my doctor prescribed them but then I switched doctors and never used them. Given the cost of insulin, I didn’t want to just throw it. Eventually found a place in Florida that accepts diabetes supplies – test strips, insulin, needles, lancets, the works.

And the last round of things – my fertility meds. I ended up being really bad at this. I didn’t feel comfortable donating them until I was in the third trimester — during most of the pregnancy, I was worried that something would go wrong and wanted to keep the meds in case we had to do another cycle in the fall. This is irrational of course – I would have still had insurance coverage for meds and by the time that ran out, these meds would have expired. But there you have it. By the time I got around to trying to donate them, most had expired. Mostly I’m just annoyed at myself that with all the need for these medications, I didn’t do a better job of filling in the gap where I could.

This whole process has been rather depressing actually. I know I’m not the only one with surplus items that should be of legitimate use to others. And it’s just frustrating to realize that the way the system is set up, the easiest thing to do is throw them out. I spent some of my childhood in India, and in some ways, I think the system there is better able to reduce waste. There are always those in need for food/clothes/medical supplies. Electrical items that don’t work first go through attempts at repair in these tiny roadside electrical shops. Ditto with clothes/shoes/pretty much everything. Here it’s often cheaper to just buy a new one. As for repairing them myself, face it, even if I have the skills to repair one of those things, I certainly can’t do all of them.

I do think that there’s a need for a centralized donation pool of some kind to at least know where to best donate different types of items and it still surprises me that nothing seems to exist.

2 thoughts on “Donations

  1. I remember trying to donate medical stuff – it really is difficult! It does feel like there should be a place where everything can be sent.

    In general, though I’ve seen some organizations begin to work on figuring out the problem of unwanted stuff (one college I know has a big “garage sale” at the end of the school year where students bring unwanted items like furniture, coffee makers, etc – many of them couldn’t take the items to wherever home was – and the sale opens to the public. Apparently it’s been a big hit), it’s a huge issue. There really should be a better system…

    Good luck with your move!


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