If your ten-year-old stash of scrapbook papers, rubber stamps, and ink pads isn’t seeing much love these days, it might be time to de-stash to make room for new project supplies. Clearing out your craft cupboard or space can be a daunting task, but if you’re feeling the urge to do a refresh, here’s how to get started and how to donate your art supplies to help your community and reduce waste.
Tips for Letting Go of Art Supplies:
- Set Your Limits: Decide how much space you want to dedicate to each category or item, then pare down your supplies to fit that space.
- If you have one folio for 12” x 12” paper, limit yourself to just that much paper and let go of the rest.
- If you have one bin for yarn, keep only your favorites and leave a little room in the bin.
- If you have a collection that’s growing, like highlighters, consider letting that item take over the space your little-used mechanical pencils once occupied, and clear out the pencils.
- Check For Changing Tastes: Go through your stash and make sure that you still like everything. For instance, let all of your pink and brown items go if you no longer like that color combination.
- Make Sure it Works: Check your stamp pads, glue pens, tape rollers, markers, etc., to make sure they are all functional. If not, find a way to refill or recycle them instead of tossing them!
- Project Remnants: If you bought supplies for a one-time craft, like a cross-stitch sampler, and haven’t stitched anything since, it’s likely not worth hanging on to the project remnants such as leftover embroidery thread, needles, and hoops.
- Don't Let Guilt Win: Just because TikTok loved it doesn’t mean you will! If you tried making soap or resin jewelry and found it wasn’t the right craft for you, don’t feel guilty and hang onto the supplies – let that stuff go to someone who will love it!
- Fill a Box: Decide on a box size you can let go of and fill that box. If you have a room full of supplies, you might decide the volume is two plastic totes. Or, if you have a craft cupboard, maybe it’s only one shoebox. Start with what’s easy and build momentum from there.
Where to Donate Art Supplies:
When deciding where you’ll donate your art supplies, first consider the outcome. Do you want to support a non-profit, do you want to get your materials in the hands of other crafters, or do you want it gone without much thought?
Donate to a Local Non-Profit:
Many local non-profits will happily take your supplies. Please do your research and deliver ONLY what the non-profit needs; otherwise, you’ll end up creating a burden for them. Clean and sort your supplies and consider these options:
- Little Picassos: https://www.littlepicassosart.com/donate
- Stoughton Youth Center: http://www.stoughtonareayouthcenter.org/donate
- Stoughton Area Resource Team: http://www.startstoughton.org/socktober-glovember
- Madison Children’s Museum: https://madisonchildrensmuseum.org/support/individual-giving/wishlist/
- St. Mary’s Care Center: https://www.volunteeryourtime.org/need/detail/?need_id=551252
- Monroe Street Arts Center: https://www.monroestreetarts.org/supplydonations
- Pathways of Wisconsin: https://pathwaysofwi.org/donate/
- Goodman Community Center: https://www.goodmancenter.org/get-involved/ways-to-give/donate-goods
- Also, check with your local church, daycare center, preschool, youth center, teachers, and nursing homes
Donate to a Thrift Store:
St. Vincent DePaul (SVP) and Goodwill are the two primary non-profit thrift stores handling general art and craft supply donations in the greater Madison area.
- Goodwill focuses on providing training, employment, and supportive services for people with disabilities or disadvantages who seek greater independence.
- SVP is a worldwide Catholic organization that works to alleviate local poverty through food pantries, housing programs, charitable pharmacies, and more.
Unfortunately, neither takes much care when it comes to art and craft supplies. SVP will generally hold the supplies in storage and have a once-a-year craft, fabric, or yarn sale but the supplies are usually still in dump bin displays and collections are separated.
Donating to a Creative Reuse Center:
There are over 100 creative reuse centers (CRC) across the U.S., including Hello Art Hatchery, who will handle your donation with great care and will have knowledge about the products your donating. When you donate to a creative reuse center, you’re ensuring that your supplies will be well cared for and will end up in the hands of other artists and craftsmen.
Many of the older, more established CRCs are 501c3 non-profit organizations, but most of the newer stores are not, preferring instead to follow a traditional retail model. If you’re worried about donating to a non501c3, please don’t. No one is getting rich off selling used art supplies!
Many CRCs will offer discounts to those who donate, and almost all of them “pay it forward” by providing materials to local non-profits and educators, and/or donating a portion of their proceeds.
We do it because it’s the best way to provide a truly unique offering; it keeps items out of the landfill and gets quality art and craft supplies into the community at affordable prices.
What About Selling Your Art Supplies?
Marketplace, Craigslist, eBay, and garage sales are excellent venues for selling your leftover supplies. However, a warning that your used and unopened art supplies aren’t worth nearly what you think they are. Without a customer base, it’s challenging to get 50-70% of the value of your items at resale like a CRC can. If you plan to sell your art supplies independently, expect a 10-15% return. You'll also have the hassle of listing the supplies, handling inquiries, and arranging pickup and payment.
Another option is to put together a supply swap with friends. If you’re part of a crafting group, you can have a day where everyone brings their supplies and exchanges, or you can simply gift your extra supplies to a friend who might enjoy them!
Hopefully, now you have a better idea of your options for donating art supplies. We encourage you to choose the best path for you and make sure to recycle or donate – keep those items out of the landfill!
If you're ready to donate your art supplies please reach out! We will pick up donations in the greater Madison area, accept drop-off donations at our processing location, and we reimburse up to $20 in shipping costs if you aren't local. Learn more on our Donations page.