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Happy Earth Day! Today let’s take a look at some of the ways that you, as a professional organizer, can protect our planet.
One of the most obvious relates to helping clients declutter. There are so many alternatives to simply throwing unwanted items in the trash!
Turn clutter into cash
Clothing, toys, books, and other items can often be sold in consignment shops or secondhand stores. Larger items may be advertised free on local bulletin boards, websites such as Kijiji or Craig’s List and in some community newspapers, and for a fee in other publications or on eBay. If your client has a large quantity of items in good condition, he or she may wish to hold a garage sale. You may even be able to earn extra income by coordinating sales on your client’s behalf.
Give it away
Your client will probably want to give certain items to friends or family members. These should be placed in clearly labelled boxes.
Other things may be offered on Freecycle, a network to connect people with stuff to give away with others who need it. With thousands of groups all over the world, there’s most likely one in your area.
For practically any item in good condition that your client no longer needs, from cutlery to farm equipment, there is probably a charity who will gratefully accept it as a donation, whether it is to be sold to raise funds or given to someone in need. In some cases, clients will be eligible for a tax receipt for their donations.
Many organizers will load items to be donated into their vehicle at the end of an organizing session, and deliver them to the appropriate organizations. By providing this service, you not only save your clients the trouble of doing so, but eliminate the chance that they’ll change their minds about keeping some of them. You may choose to charge a flat fee for this service, do it at your regular rate, or possibly do it at no charge as a community service (though with today’s gas prices, you might want to think hard about that one!)
Dispose of it properly
Things do wear out, and you can’t find a new home for everything. It’s important for you to be familiar with the waste management systems in your community in terms of what can and can’t be recycled and how to dispose of large items and hazardous waste. When you’re doing a large organizing project, blue boxes and other containers can fill up very quickly, so bring along a supply of blue bags, clear bags, or whatever is acceptable in your municipality, to make sure that all garbage goes where it is supposed to.
As I mentioned earlier this week, one year I worked with another local business owner to hold an Earth Day Garage Sale. By doing this I provided my organizing clients with an outlet for their unwanted goods, kept those goods out of the landfill, and raised funds for a worthy cause. I’m sure you can come up with some great ideas too!
Before making that final decision to sell, donate or discard something, consider whether it could be a useful organizing tool. For example, people often hoard boxes, baskets, or other containers in which they’ve received gifts, with the hope of eventually finding a use for them. Rather than tossing them, only to have the client dish out money for special organizing containers, ask yourself if anything they already own would do the trick. Gift boxes can often be used as attractive yet functional holders for personal grooming supplies, desk supplies, or other small items.
Encourage earth-friendly habits
Of course, getting rid of excess stuff is only one role of the professional organizer! The other side of the coin is encouraging your clients to stay organized, and one way they can do that is to stop buying things they really don’t need. This not only helps them to maintain a clutter-free space, but helps the environment too!
So far I have only looked at the basics: reduce, reuse, and recycle, but there’s another side to green organizing that you may not have considered. Many popular organizing products are made from plastic, which is not friendly to the environment. If you are really serious about going green, you will want to explore alternatives to recommend to your clients, such as biodegradable wicker baskets.
This is an important issue that affects each and every one of us.
What are YOU doing to protect our planet?