Despite our recent heavy snow falls, spring brings swelling tree buds, birds singing spring songs, and garlic sprouting in farm fields and gardens. When you get inspired to do your annual spring cleaning, here are some suggestions for what to do with items you no longer need.

As much as 8% of all solid waste going into landfills is fabric, used clothes, old sheets and towels, shoes, backpacks and suitcases that would be better used by others. Let’s facilitate more use of these clothes instead of burning them in the ecomaine incinerator or unnecessarily filling our Maine landfills, which are close to capacity. In fact, there is a long-standing industry of fabric recyclers that collect and sort wearable clothes and repurpose used fabrics. Damaged blue jeans and other cotton materials are broken down into cotton thread in Pakistan, dyed again and woven with two-thirds new cotton thread into new jeans. Lower-quality fabric is turned into rags for specific purposes varying from cleaning electronics, hospitality, health care, automobile repair and aerospace industries.

You can pay less for trash bags, clean out and make more space in your basement and attic by emptying out bins of old bedding and clothing. You can collect this cleaned material without having to sort it to put in Apparel Impact’s bin at Topsham Crossing. If you have sorted wearable clothes, you can easily donate them to Goodwill or put in one of several area consignment shops to offer to others. It’s worth collecting and donating not only your wearable clothes but also jeans with holes, torn seams or stains.

Mission-oriented companies, including Goodwill and Apparel Impact from Hookset, New Hampshire, will sort your materials and get them to poor people who can’t afford to buy new clothing. Family-run nonprofit Apparel Impact accepts dry, clean clothes and accessories with no odor or mold. They accept all sizes of clothing, coast, jackets, winter gear, and any kind of shoes, sandals, slippers or boots. Also repurposed are purses, pocketbooks, backpacks, duffel bags, belts, gloves, ties, scarfs and jewelry.

Apparel Impact picks up 125 white drop-off bins weekly in Maine, including one at Maine Street Bee at 125 Route 1 in Freeport. They sort best-quality items that can be reworn and sell mixed lots with ranges of quality to textile-recycling companies to fund their collection and sorting services. To donate to Apparel Impact’s bin on Topsham Fair Mall Road in Topsham, from Route 196, take the next entrance past Target and turn left into the parking lot, which leads to Dick’s Sporting Goods. The white bin is near the road and always open.

Goodwill has stores that accept donations on Gurnet Road in Cook’s Corner, Brunswick, and at 106 Park Drive at the south end of Topsham Fair Mall Road. Goodwill works with other businesses and nonprofits to train and support workers in skills that will help them maintain a stable life. Goodwill supports it’s workers with housing, lifetime mentoring and counseling, and brain injury rehabilitation.


To repurpose your highest quality, lightly used clothing, consider a large number of consignment stores in our area. Estilo at 153A Park Row in downtown Brunswick carries top-quality women’s clothing. Woods and Waters Gear Exchange on Pleasant Street carries outdoor clothing and equipment such as surf boards, bicycle panniers and waterproof bags. Take used sports equipment there to see for possible resale to them.

Sweet Repeats Children’s Consignment Shop carries a large selection of children’s clothes and toys at 554 U.S. Route 1, south of Freeport. Kargo’s at 4 School St. in Freeport has a huge selection of women’s party dresses, jackets, shirts, shoes and boots. They also carry accessories including handbags, wallets, sweaters and shaped hats.

Habitat for Humanity/7 Rivers runs the ReStore at 126 Main St. in Topsham across from Mt. Ararat High School. You can buy a wide range of donated bureaus, wooden and upholstered chairs, tables and desks. Your purchases will support Habitat’s building of homes for moderate-income new homeowners. Former President Jimmy Carter helped found and worked with Habitat for Humanity to empower young parents to own their own homes affordably. My husband bought both an inexpensive door and two windows at ReStore to use in building our solar greenhouse.

Nancy Chandler studied Animal Behavior and Anthropology at Stanford University, then received her master’s in biology education in her home state of North Carolina at U.N.C. Chapel Hill. She is passionate about teaching energy conservation and hopes to get you thinking about how to use energy use efficiently to save both money and reduce greenhouse warming gases.

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