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Encouraging Heroes. You can be one too.

The Donate Movement is an initiative that helps in two ways. It helps you get your house decluttered, and helps people in your local community with jobs.

I had a chance to interview Lorie Marrero, the national spokesperson for Goodwill® and ambassador for the Donate Movement. Lorie is a professional organizer helping people get decluttered and live a greener life as a result.

1. How did you come to be involved in the Donate Movement?
Our team approached Goodwill because we wanted to pitch a national talk show about losing your clutter pounds in January and do a story with them. I was looking for the right nonprofit partner to find a way to give back and add more meaning to what we do. From there our conversations led to the Donate Movement, an initiative to teach people about the impact that donating has on both people and the planet. I learned Goodwill would soon be launching the movement, and we all realized it was a perfect match for us to work together! I reach thousands of people who are making decisions about the stuff in their closets and garages, and I now have the honor and privilege of educating them about why Goodwill is a smart and responsible choice for donating those household goods.

2. What impact does donating have on my local city or town?
When you donate your clothing and household items to Goodwill, many good things happen. 1) You are keeping usable or recyclable items out of your landfills. In 2011, Goodwill diverted 2.7 billion pounds from landfills by selling or recycling what was donated. That’s 86 pounds per second! 2) The revenue from the sale of your donated items is used to fund programs for job-related services like training, placement, educational assistance, and resume preparation help. 3) People in your own community benefit from these programs and are placed in jobs throughout your hometown. 4) Employment means stability for their families and a stronger economic base in your area. And let’s not forget, shoppers benefit too, from the great deals they find!

3. As an organizer, how much of your work involves just getting rid of stuff?
There is a bit of a myth that all organizers want people to do is throw things away. Yes, that is part of the process, but the words “organize” or “declutter” don’t really do it justice. I actually coined and trademarked the phrase “SpaceScaping®” to describe what we do. We analyze needs for items and space, organize and purge items, store things appropriately, maximize the space available, and create systems for you that work long term, so you can STAY organized, not just GET organized. We are probably equal parts counselor, friend, expert, and personal trainer, making you get it done! I am really proud that our Clutter Diet program has made professional organizing help affordable and accessible for anyone. We help people all around the world online with our advice and consulting for about the price of a pizza.

4. Does it matter where I donate my excess stuff? What are some of the better places to donate and why?
I am so glad you asked this question. Many people are looking for the first parking lot dropbox they see. Members of the public should be aware that some are actually for-profit operations, and others may give only a tiny percentage to the charity they claim to support. In the same way you wouldn’t write a check to just anyone, remember that donating household goods IS philanthropy, and you want to be a responsible and conscientious donor. Find out first what the mission of the charity is and how much of the revenue from your donation goes directly to support that mission. With Goodwill, that percentage is 82 percent spent directly on programs to help people find work (2011). You can find out what kind of services your shirt, jeans, or lamp have provided with our Donation Impact Calculator (patent-pending) at http://donate.goodwill.org — for example, a working computer provides 6.6 hours of on-the-job training.

5. Where would you suggest a person look first to find stuff to declutter?
If you are looking for a place to quickly find things to donate, garages, attics and basements are the “final frontier” for clutter. These areas house things we are rarely or never using, because we’ve made a decision to get them out of the house but not yet out of our lives. However, I suggest beginning your organizing process by starting in a place that bothers you the most and would have the most impact on your daily life if you got it done. The benefits of organizing a frequently used space like a kitchen, laundry room, closet, or home office are immediately noticed and can carry you forward with momentum for other projects.

Thank you, Lorie!

Earnest Parenting: help for parents who want to donate extra stuff.