Couch Exchange

A Story of Responsible Exchange and Reuse

Take a second and look around your home. How much stuff do you have? Is it all being used? There’s a good chance you may have duplicates of what you see in front of you.

It’s true that eventually our stuff owns us more than we own our stuff. We accumulate more and more and the required space and maintenance can weigh us down. That’s why in my career as a certified professional organizer, I meet so many people desperate to free themselves from the mental pain and frustration that builds with an increasingly cluttered home.

But way too often, I see people parting with items that are barely even used — sometimes with tags still on them — leaving them on the curb to go to waste at a local landfill. The desire to get some peace and organization in their life is so urgent, that they overlook the damage they could be doing to the environment and miss a great opportunity to give back to those in need.

I know their unwanted stuff could help others because I’ve felt this need personally. I’ve been a single mom since my daughters were toddlers, with no support from their father or any extended family. Before I started my successful career as a certified professional organizer, I had a full time job that paid barely enough to afford day care for my kids. We had little else for a long time, with nothing in the living room besides a single loveseat, and I remember eating popcorn for many meals so that my kids could eat a healthy, balanced diet.

At one point during this stretch, I overheard a co-worker complaining about having so much stuff it was stressing her out. She fretted that her 2-year-old had a TV and VCR in her room, and she still had 3 more collecting dust in her basement. She was surrounded by stuff and she just wanted to get rid of it. It pained me to hear this, and while I didn’t want her to find out, I could have really used her stuff. It made me wonder just how many people were in this similar situation, on either end of the “stuff spectrum” — those stressed by both a lack of stuff and an overabundance of it.

Fast-forward to the present day, after many successful years building my professional organizing company. I’m just as passionate about helping people create peaceful, enjoyable living and work environments, but I’m also eager to connect people on either end of this “stuff spectrum,” passing unwanted, usable items into the hands of others that are in need of it, all while reducing the amount of stuff in landfills.

If you’re clearing your home of unwanted stuff, it’s a good idea to sort your stuff as reusable or not reusable. If someone can get some life out of it — whether it’s a couch, TV, or appliance — consider searching websites that can pair you with a donation center or someone in need, whether it’s The Stuff Stop, Craigslist, or some other resource. And if it’s not reusable and you’re junking it, try to choose an eco-friendly junk removal company that recycles as much material as possible. This way, we can do our part to make sure that the cycle of stuff creates the least stress for everyone, including the Earth itself.

Image source: bixentro