You probably don’t know this, but I try to stay somewhat organized. Additionally, my family has been donating to Goodwill for years now. I can recall us bagging up old clothing to take to the local one when I was a little kid. A couple of times a year, my mom and I go through our clothes and donate at least 1 big bag of stuff to Goodwill. We feel that it’s important to help other people. Also, it helps me clear out my very tiny closet. That being said, I was honored to have the chance to interview Goodwill Ambassador and bestselling author Lorie Marrero. She is a Certified Professional Organizer and an active mother of two teenage boys. She is a regular contributor for Good Housekeeping and the bestselling author of The Clutter Diet: The Skinny on Organizing Your Home and Taking Control of Your Life. Take a look at what all we can learn from her…
1. Are there certain times of the year when people should de-clutter their house? If so, what should they be doing and when?
Yes, there are times that make more sense for certain jobs, like organizing your garage when it’s not so hot outside. And there are certain times of the year that people tend to get more motivated, like “spring cleaning” season. People probably want to go through their closets during times of seasonal changes, like when you bring the sweaters out for colder weather, and go through their kids’ clothing before doing their Back-to-School shopping. Our online program has a weekly plan that takes you through your entire house in a year’s time, using some of this appropriate seasonal timing to prompt you for these projects.
But in general, one of the mistakes people make is neglecting regular maintenance… saving up organizing projects until they are a more extreme problem. You have to brush your teeth every day-you can’t expect to brush them 30 times in one day for the whole month and get the same results. It’s like that for your house too-having habits that keep the house straightened daily go a long way.
2. Do you have any tips for getting things organized to donate?
Often people do not take action when they notice something needs to be donated, and it remains in circulation with the rest of the stuff in the house and gets forgotten. You notice something hanging in your closet that you’re no longer wearing, for example, and just flip past it and keep going. We recommend setting up a “Donation Station,” a place where the whole family knows to place items when they are ready for donation. You can keep paper grocery bags or large shopping bags there, which stand up on their own and are disposable containers. If you want to take a tax deduction for donated items, keep a clipboard and pen there so you can write down each item as you put it in a bag. When you have full bags, put them in your car and take them to Goodwill. You can find your nearest donation center here.
3. Why did you decide to become an ambassador of the Donate Movement?
I am the Ambassador of the Donate Movement because it makes perfect sense-donating is the most responsible and beneficial way to declutter your home. Donating is good for the environment, for you, for your neighbors, and for your community. I reach thousands of people every week who are making decisions about their stuff, and I have the privilege of explaining to them why donating makes sense and why Goodwill is a smart and responsible choice to receive your donations. It’s so important for people to be conscientious about where they are donating! Some of the drop boxes you see out there are actually for-profit scams, or they give only a tiny percentage of profit to the charities they claim to support. Collectively, 82% of the revenue from your donations goes directly to help Goodwill’s mission of putting people to work, and every 38 seconds of every business day, a person served by Goodwill earns a good job. You can see the impact of your donations with the Donation Impact Calculator. It’s fun to plug in some sweaters, jeans, and books and see how many hours of services that provided for someone!
4. What is your favorite aspect of being a national spokesperson for Goodwill(r) ?
I get to hear the many stories of the people your donations have helped and see the impact firsthand. I find that most people know the name “Goodwill,” and they know that they have thrift stores. But they have no idea what the mission of Goodwill is-to provide job-related services and opportunities to people with challenges to finding employment. These challenges could include language barriers, criminal records, disabilities, or a lack of education or work experience, among many others. I have the privilege of educating people about this mission and telling some of these stories! For example, one box of books provides 42 minutes of career counseling for someone like Shelton. Goodwill helped him find his job as a security guard and he is now working toward earning his associates degree in criminal justice. Goodwill helped him see that his learning disability did not have to keep him from achieving his goals.
5. How did you know that you wanted to help people become de-cluttered?
I really don’t like wasting time unnecessarily-I am always looking for shortcuts. I read my first organizing book when I was about ten years old, and saved up my allowance to buy a label maker at about that same time. When I got married and had kids, I moved 11 times in a 10 year period, so I got a lot of practice at being efficient! After having worked in a corporate job, at the end of all that I wanted to start a business. I had a service business for many years providing hands-on organizing services with my team of organizers in Austin and San Antonio, and then created our online consulting service, The Clutter Diet(r), in 2006. When I was thinking about what business to start originally, I had thought I could do well at being an organizer, a freelance writer, or a web designer, and now, serendipitously enough, I actually get to do all three of those things in one! We have helped thousands of people in eighteen countries with affordable virtual consulting to help them get unstuck and organized with expert advice online.
So, what did you learn from my interview? Is there something you wish I would have asked but didn’t? Do you donate to Goodwill?
Disclosure: I was not compensated in any way for this post. The opinions expressed are my own.