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Just do it

Ask any real estate agent out there, and he/she will tell you right away – de-cluttering will make your house look more appealing, desirable, and cleaner. 

It is probably the easiest - and cheapest - way to improve the looks of your property. Most home owners worry about ‘curb appeal’ and affordable ways to make their property look better (ie a quick repainting) before listing. They might invest their time and energy into repaving the driveway, or hiring a landscaping company. Yet many people forget to make their property look better on the inside before having potential buyers come in. 

Put yourself in the shoes of a prospective buyer. You’re looking for a house for your family, and you have a good choice with all the properties currently on the market. You want to see a spacious property that will fit your needs. When you walk through, you’re trying to imagine yourself living in the house. If the basement is full of old furniture, and closets are full of old toys, the home automatically looks smaller. 

Clutter can turn off any prospective buyer, thereby creating less competition for the home, which in turn can lower the final selling price.

You might be used to seeing clutter around your house, and may think it’s not a big deal. You may even think you don’t have clutter. Human mind tends to focus on the negative, though, and prospective buyers will focus on any clutter as opposed to seeing the features of your house. You might have a great floor plan and an amazing view, but if your house is cluttered with furniture and items dating back to World War 2, the floor plan and view will go unnoticed. The true potential of your house will be lost.

Clean out the basement of unwanted items. Call your kids and tell them to pick up the stuff they’ve been storing down there since they moved out. Have a garage sale and sell it if they don’t get it done promptly (that will teach them!). Call a local charity for a free pickup, if possible. Give away unwanted items to strangers on a street. Use the Free Items section of Castanet Classifieds. If all else fails, call a professional junk removal company, and ask them for help. 

If you really want to keep everything, and you can’t bring yourself to let your clutter go, rent a portable storage box from Big Steel Box, and store your items until it’s time to move. While it might take up some space in your driveway, it’s still better than having it throughout your house when potential buyers knock on your door.

Need more motivation? Think of it this way - when your house sells, you’ll need to deal with it anyway. So, why not be proactive and deal with it in advance. Doing it this way will benefit you financially and make the sale of your house much easier, so do as famous Nike commercial advises: Just Do It.

The future looks good

What does the future have in store for us?

We live in a constantly changing world, facing new developments in all aspects of our lives, from gadgets we are using every day to the cars we drive. If somebody had told me as a kid that we’d have fully electric cars and all-reaching wireless internet by the time I grew up, I would have told them they were dreaming.

Recycling and clean technologies are also changing as we go. Recycling in general has changed drastically over the years to the point where you can recycle almost anything. When I was growing up, the only materials being recycled were cardboard and metal. Nowadays the list of items required to be recycled is never ending – clean wood, painted wood, tires, drywall, metal, wires, electronic components, various types of plastic, office paper, batteries, paints, used oil, light bulbs, and more.

Recycling technologies are making our world cleaner and more efficient by allowing us to recycle items that 20 years ago we thought could never be recycled. What does the future have in store for us? What recycling or clean energy technologies will be available to our kids when they grow up?


Closed loop paper recycling

While paper recycling is not new, there’s a new technology coming online that will allow us to recycle paper multiple times. All paper, when recycled, breaks down, and can only be used for lesser quality paper. Grey’s Recycling, out of Edmonton, is solving this problem by using a cutting-edge process of adding cotton to paper. This keeps the paper strong, so that good quality office paper can be made. It also diverts tonnes of clothes away from the landfill. 

The benefit to the planet? It has been established that production of one tonne of office paper requires the cutting of 17 fully-grown trees. Closed loop paper recycling helps to reduce that number by recycling already-produced paper and cotton material destined for the landfill. 

I hope this Canadian company takes off in a big way to benefit us all in the future.


Self-charging vehicles

Electric vehicles are becoming more prominent today thanks to their obvious benefits. The Tesla car is all over the news lately, because Tesla makes driving electric vehicles truly cool. They’re extremely clean to run, quiet, and much easier to maintain than their gas engine counterparts. Who wouldn’t want to drive a Tesla?

There are still some downsides to owning an electric vehicle, though. Since they run on batteries, the effective range is limited by the battery’s capacity. Once the battery is depleted, you have to find a rechargeable station or head home to plug it into your home recharging unit. This isn’t very convenient, especially if you’re planning on using an electric car for travelling long distances. 

But fear not, new technology is here to save us. Companies around the world are working on introducing technology that will allow your car to be charged wirelessly, by means of induction, while you’re driving down the road. Just as it is possible to wirelessly charge your cellphone, it will be possible to charge your car by merely driving it at a normal speed along a specifically-designed motorway. Equipment installed underground will transmit electricity into a receiver installed on your car. Neat-o!


Dynamic windows

Believe it or not, buildings are the largest source of energy consumption in the world. When it’s cold outside, they need to be heated. When it’s hot, they need to be cooled. Almost 30% of this energy is lost through windows. New technologically-advanced dynamic windows solve this problem with zero effort.

‘Dynamic windows’ is a broad term for windows that are able to electronically change tinting in response to the outside environment. Just as the thermostat in your house controls the temperature, dynamic windows can change the level of tinting to match the weather outside, or time of day, or even sun movement. Electrochromic technology will change the colour of windows to absorb or reflect solar energy. This allows the windows to cool the building down by reflecting light when it’s sunny, or absorbing light when cooler. According to some manufacturers, dynamic windows can save 20% on heating and cooling system costs, 20% on lighting costs and reduce peak load by 25%.

The future is looking good.

Valuable clutter

It’s spring cleaning time, and as you’re sorting through the clutter in your basement, attic, garage, and other storage spaces, you’re likely to come across plenty of interesting (and possibly valuable) pieces of junk.

While finding a map to the lost treasure of One-Eyed Willy (sneaking in a The Goonies reference) isn’t very likely, you may be lucky enough to discover one or more items that would be valuable to someone else. But, if what looks to be trash can turn out to be worth a big sum – or nothing at all – how do you decipher between the two?


Research, Research, Research

Hit the books, pound the keys, burn the midnight oil. Take the time to research your discovery to try and narrow down what it may be worth. You don’t even have to visit the library – with the limitlessness of the online sphere, there are plenty of resources at your fingertips. Alternatively, pay a visit to the retailers, re-sellers, shops, and businesses that stock goods like your discovered items. Compare the prices they have listed to see what is reasonable, and to get an idea of the market value.

From consignment stores and thrift shops to online sites like Castanet, there are many places to choose from.

Find out your item's price both when used and when new, or what the cost is for the newest version of it. Consider the age and condition of your 'junk', which will impact its value. Also, consider whether it could be a rare or collectible find. Even if it’s unopened, it may be hard to get a price for your item, just by virtue of it already having been owned. Unless it’s a collectible (like dolls, vinyl, or silver), then having a perfectly packaged and unopened item could be to your benefit.


Seek Professional Help

Who better to ask than those in the know? Reach out to the experts who specialize in your type of goods, such as pawn brokers, museum curators, pickers, and collectors. If their life’s work or day-to-day dealings involves similar items, they may be willing to give you some advice or tips – especially if they’re on the lookout for such an item themselves.

The best way to know for sure what your junk is worth is to have it valued by a professional appraiser. Yes, it’s going to cost money to get a stamped, signed and approved valuation, but then you’ll have an official opinion and backup documentation to settle the matter. That can come in handy when insuring your goods, or selling them at (or close to) their actual value.

International Society of Appraisers Canada - http://www.isa-appraisers.ca/


Emotional Value or Monetary Value?

It may not have any monetary value, but that doesn’t negate the emotional value of your junk. Be sure to keep the two separate, though. Just because you believe something has value, doesn’t mean other people will. Don’t expect someone to pay more for your old NSYNC CDs than what they are actually worth (unfortunately it’s not much, ’90s boy band fans). But perhaps, if it means that much to you, it doesn’t really matter what it’s worth, as it could still be priceless to you.


Should You Table It?

Once you’ve cleared all the clutter and you’ve sorted items by what you want to keep, donate, toss, and sell, what’s next? Well, you could call 1-800-GOT-JUNK? to help with numbers two and three, but if you’d rather sell your items it could be the perfect time for a yard sale. When pricing goods for your yard sale, it’s important to do so at a value that is reasonable, and takes into consideration the condition, age, and rarity of the items up for sale, as well as how easy it would be to refurbish pieces such as furniture, if they are in a well-loved state.


Yard Sales

Offer competitive pricing – don’t price yourself out of the race, but don’t undervalue your items, either. Anything in new to gently-used condition can comfortably be marked at a higher price. If it’s an item that doesn’t have much value, but you’re keen to get rid of it, then you can greatly mark down the sale price.

Ask around to get opinions on what people would spend on your items. If your family and friends agree that your bookshelf is worth no more than $20, you should consider that price point. But be prepared to haggle and negotiate. Sometimes it pays to be flexible if it means you don’t miss out on the business of an interested shopper.


Have something to say about junk values? Comment the article here: http://blog.1800gotjunk.com/2015/05/09/how-much-is-your-junk-worth/


When tenants leave junk behind

Did your tenant move out without their junk? Try these quick ‘traffic tips’ to purge the leftovers!

As a landlord or property manager, you may have lingering junk that former tenants left behind. We don’t want to knock renters, of course - most people are very responsible - but sometimes items are left behind because the tenant didn’t come up with an advance disposal plan, weren’t able to fit everything in their moving truck, or didn’t realize leaving items would inconvenience the landlord.

You’re probably strapped for time trying to get the property cleaned so you can hand over the keys to new tenants, but the left over junk is a major roadblock. Here are some ‘traffic tips’ that take into account how much time you have before you need the junk gone.



Situation: You moved the old CRT TV into your office and you’ve been using it as a table. But it’s really time to get rid of it.

With more time comes more options. Take the junk to the recycling depot or see if a local charity will pick it up. If you work with the day-to-day operations of an apartment building and there are good items that have been piling up in the storage room, help residents host a building-wide yard sale. Or, if you think you could make a few bucks for strata, put up an ad on Castanet.



Situation: The tenant is gone, but you have a few days to deal with the TV they left behind.

If you have a bit more time to deal with the junk, you can make a few calls. Will a local charity come and pick up working items? Can you take it to the recycling depot? Is there anyone else in the building who’s interested in a free TV? If the items are in good shape, you could offer them to the next tenant.



Situation #1: Your old tenant moved out this morning, and your new tenant moves in tomorrow. There’s an old couch and patio set left over.

Situation #2: You’ve evicted a problem tenant. There’s garbage and various items still in the unit. There’s no new tenant immediately lined up, but the garbage and mess may turn into a bigger problem if it’s left sitting there.

If you really need junk removed immediately, we strongly suggest (we’re biased) you hire a junk removal company. If the schedule permits, the crew may even be able to come out the same day, giving you time to focus on getting the cleaning company in and out as quickly as possible.

More Reduce, Reuse, Recycle! articles

About the Author

Yoree Grozenok owns and operates 1-800-GOT-JUNK? in Kelowna, part of world's largest junk removal company. Years of operating this great business has given him wealth of knowledge and experience in recycling.

While other companies think of recycling as a 'nice thing to do', Yoree Grozenok built his business with recycling in mind from the very beginning. Not only is every effort made to recycle obvious items like scrap metal or cardboard, but the goal is set to recycle up to 80% of items picked up. They also recycle through donating items to charities or Kelowna Food Bank. All recycling efforts are tracked and publicly available for greater accountability.

Yoree Grozenok also started an annual eWaste recycling event that takes place each April in an effort to divert electronic waste going to the landfill. This drive give residents a chance to recycle their televisions, computers, and other electronic junk.

1-800-GOT-JUNK? was nominated for Green Business award through SIFE Okanagan.

Contact: [email protected]

Website: www.1800gotjunk.com

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet presents its columns "as is" and does not warrant the contents.

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