Many of us do not realize the amount of materials we throw away can be repurposed into something else. A lot of the items we have can either be turned into something new or reused by someone else. Many of these donation sites collect items and create new items from them with the intention of donating them to charity.

Milk Bags

Person holding a mat made of milk bags. Image via the Toronto Star.

Milk bags are a staple in many people’s lives, but did you know that once the milk is done you could reuse the bag? It turns out that milk bags are so resistant that they can last up to 25 years or more, making them the perfect bedding material for those in need. Milk bags are water resistant and they do not discolour from the sun. MILKBAGS Unlimited donated mats to the homeless population in Canada, countries who have faced natural disasters and Syrian refugees in Greece. Their efforts do not end there, they also send shipments all over the world, from El Salvador, Ghana, Jamaica to Zambia, Peru and so many more. The majority of milk bags are sent to the Mississauga warehouse for the Food for Children foundation. Find your nearest location on their website to drop off your used milk bags.

Pop Tabs

Three people counting pop tabs. Image via Pop Tabs for Wheelchairs.

This one is a real shocker! Pop tabs! Yes, you read that correctly. Pop Tabs for Wheelchairs collects pop tabs from used pop cans through donations and sells them to a recycling centre where they use the proceeds to purchase wheelchairs. The money collected is donated to the Robert Hampson Tabs for Kids Fund at PC Children’s Charity. All you have to do is fill a container of any size with pop tabs and donate it to one of the drop off locations.

Cell Phones

Nurse holding an old cell phone. Image via CTV News.

Many of us have old flip phones lying around in a drawer somewhere, so why not put them to good use? Inequalities when it comes to accessing technology have always been an issue; however, with the onset of COVID-19, this issue has escalated. Individuals without phones may be unable to contact COVID-19 site locations to find out where to get tested, receive their test results, or stay up-to-date on the news and changing protocols. Dr. Andrea Somers recognized this inequity and founded the donation drive for old cell phones. This program is directed towards vulnerable people who can’t access a phone, who are homeless, or suffering from addiction or mental health issues. Anyone interested in donating their old cell phone can mail their device to Toronto General Hospital.

Electronics

Three people collecting electronics in bins. Image via Free Geek Toronto.

Free Geek Toronto is a not-for-profit organization that accepts used electronics and resells them for a reasonable price to underrepresented populations who are facing financial hardships. Free Geek Toronto is also an employment social enterprise, which means they offer employment opportunities to those who are struggling to find a job in the labour market.

Employment social enterprises not only provide a form of income but also offer emotional and educational support to employees. Currently, Free Geek Toronto is not accepting electronics due to COVID-19 but when they reopen you can give them a call or visit one of their drop off locations.

Hockey Equipment

A young child with a helmet, skates and a hockey stick skating on ice. Photo by Michelle Valberg via Project North.

Project North is one of my favourite not-for-profit organizations in Canada. If you have any hockey equipment laying around your house this is the perfect organization for you! The Gear Up program accepts used hockey equipment and sends a full hockey bag to Inuit youth living in Canada’s northern communities. Project North supports the physical health and community development of children through their love for hockey. To donate your equipment first contact Project North to see what items they are currently accepting and then mail in your donation.

Over the winter break, consider donating to any of these organizations and giving the gift of compassion and love in a sustainable way!

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