We've given that a lot of thought throughout our renovation project. And we've found two key resources that everyone should be aware of.
Habitat for Humanity's Restore
On our house, we were able to donate light and bath fixtures. And we were able to buy some as well - so we helped on both ends!
The detail is amazing, look at the little screws that are used to hold the shade in place - tiny flowers!! They don't make them like that anymore!
One helpful hint - they are a bit cautious about what they will take. For example, we tried to donate a couple of ceiling fans that were in great shape - but they had too many in stock already and weren't interested. It pays to call them first and check.
I've become a huge Craigslist fan. Whether you're renovating a home or moving.... or just cleaning out the basement, this is a great resource to get rid of things quickly. Using Craigslist is simple. It's easy to take a picture of the item you want to get rid of, upload it to their website and wait for responses. We've met some wonderful people this way - they're happy to get a bargain and we're happy to have them haul it away and keep it out of a landfill.
As an example, we had lots and lots of windows that came out of our house. When I listed them on Craigslist as 'free 1900 wavy glass windows', I was overwhelmed by the response. One couple took some to build a greenhouse, another for a family camp. We also had a furniture builder come take a couple to reuse on his projects. What a great way to breathe new life into them!
So don't just throw everything into a dumpster. Think about whether there is another life for a product that doesn't fit your taste or style - but will give someone else some enjoyment!