Friday, March 28, 2014

What happens to your STUFF at the landfill?
MOST Importantly, are your documents safe?

As much as I love recycling and despise going to the landfill, in my line of business I have to go at least once a week.

We donate as much as we can to a non-profit charity. However Collectors, we unfortunately are left with items that have to be disposed of. We scrap metal (not for profit) and recycle e-waste as best as we can. This lightens our load and price at the landfill so it's a winning situation for all. If you are actively participating in your home cleanup, you will see the scrap people come and haul those items away.  It can actually be entertaining, if you have that sort of sense of humor.

Okay back to the remains, which is headed to the landfill. This could be important documents (stay with me Collectors, deep breaths), junk, rat infested clothing, whatever! It's in giant black garbage bags, and it's leaving with us.  

What happens to this stuff? And most importantly, are your documents safe? 
These are two questions I hear quite often, and so I thought I would write a blog about it.

First I will tell you in writing what happens, once everything has been approved at the landfill, I will update the media portion at the bottom.

Once your stuff is headed to the landfill there are no stops, except for gas or food for the crew. After all it's been a long day, and our work is still not done for a few more hours.

When we enter the landfill, we stop and are weighed in at the front. We drive over to the area where we need to dispose of your garbage, and we dump it right then and there. We personally (yes even me Collectors) throw your giant heavy bags into a hole. Tractors are going by dumping dirt and there are officials waving you out as soon as you are done. It's all actually quite fast. Sometimes we see the bags being buried and sometime we don't. Per officials, the landfill legally has to cover all the garbage at least once a day. Plus they have machines that are rolling over it trying to compact it. Firecrackers are going off non stop to scare off birds and it's all kind of exciting, except the smell of course. We jump back into our vehicles and head off to be weighed out. That is the process. In and out.

Now. Did you know it is illegal to pick, scavenge, go through anything at the dump? An official told me that once my stuff hits the ground it is HIS. People are not allowed to swap, sell, barter etc. It is illegal. They take this very seriously.

Please read my interview below with  Diana Ratto (Site Manager, Republic Services, Inc.) when I asked her specific questions about the Vasco Road Landfill:

Rachel: What is the difference between a landfill and a "transfer station"?
Diana: Transfer Station - Normally an enclosed area where garbage is dumped and a crew of “sorters” sorts material; i.e.; plastic, metals, cardboard, aluminum, from actual garbage (MSW) (Municipal Solid Waste); such as trash from your kitchen; used baby diapers; non-recyclable material.
Transfer station is where your garbage trucks leave out of in the morning around 3:00 a.m. and start their routes in the neighborhood to pick up your curb side garbage @ homes; Multi-homes; town homes; condo; and then once they pick up from their route; they head back to a transfer station to dispose their loads/garbage to be sifted through by “Sorter”.

Landfill - Final destination of Garbage; material that has already been sorted through from either a transfer station; MRF; IRF. This is non-recyclable material that once it arrives at the landfill is buried. After decomposing then the methane gas is extracted from the refuse/garbage and generates natural gas that provides energy to approximately 4,400 homes in the area.

Rachel: Is it legal to pick through bags of debris? What about employees or workers, are they allowed?
Diana: Answer - NO. 
It is prohibited to salvage through garbage debris at the landfill; it is not permitted.  It is immediate termination of employment if our employee’s salvages through the garbage.
Rachel: How long does it take for the landfill to bury your stuff after something is dumped?
Diana: At Vasco Landfill we MUST by PERMIT bury/tarp the garbage every night by 6:30 p.m.  This is a requirement of our Permit.

Rachel: Diana, thank you so much for your time explaining what happens to peoples stuff once it goes to the landfill.

Collectors - So is your tax paperwork from 1982 safe?! What about all that mail with your address on it? Absolutely. Lets think it through my information gathering Collectors.
The thought of: someone jumping into a garbage pit and ripping open tightly tied thick garbage bags, finding your documents ... all the while fighting off giant tractors and officials... um no. Not going to happen. AND if someone did do all of that, they would be in big trouble.

I hope you feel better about your stuff going to the landfill Collectors.

Rachel Seavey, Professional Organizer (and blogger) For Collector Care

Collector Care specializes in hoarding disorder, chronic disorganization and professional organizing. We  love what we do, and  provide realistic expectations and timelines. Please visit our website at  or call 925-548-7750
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Friday, March 14, 2014

Spring Cleaning in 15 Minutes or Less
from Collector Care

Hey Collectors! It's time for Spring Cleaning! Here are some quick tips to help you along the way. Choose at least one item from the list below and go for it! You can do it.

1. Schedule 15 minutes a day. Just a few minutes will keep your home organized and help you avoid clutter catastrophes.

2. Choose to keep, toss or donate items. Throw away or donate anything old, unused or unwanted. Toss anything damaged or broken.

3. Throw away outside clutter. Immediately toss things like hangers from the dry cleaner, plastic stadium cups and florist’s vases.

4. Throw away any clothes with stains. These do not double as rags. And they can’t be donated. They’re only taking up space.

5. Immediately recycle junk mail. Don’t even bring it into the house.

6. Check for expired coupons. Coupons are awesome, but can easily become an untamed mess. Store everything relevant in one envelope and regularly recycle unwanted or expired coupons.

7. Empty your purse, pockets and drawers of unwanted receipts. Shred or recycle old receipts. You most likely aren’t going to return anything for a receipt over a week old.

8. Choose paperless billing. Most bills can be paid online. It’s the quickest way to prevent piles of paper.

9. Opt out of unwanted catalogs. Call the number listed and ask them to stop sending you mail.

10. Tame your virtual clutter. Clean out your computer. Delete old documents and sort important files in clearly labeled folders.

Rachel Seavey, Professional Organizer (and blogger) For Collector Care

Collector Care specializes in hoarding disorder, chronic disorganization and professional organizing. We  love what we do, and  provide realistic expectations and timelines. Please visit our website at  or call 925-548-7750
Tweet us on Twitter : Like our Facebook page : Pin with us on Pinterest

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Hoarder Babe - A story about me from a mystery Collector.

Dear Collectors, thank you for your kind messages and sweet wishes. Whoever wrote this to me is especially creative, and I hope you don't find offense with me posting this online. You were not offended sending it to me right? (winks)

Last weekend I spoke at the San Jose Convention Center (so it's a bit creepy that there is reference to it, were YOU there???) and then I got this in my email. When I responded I got a failure to send message. Who are you Lostin Piles? Give us a call, we offer free estimates!

Hoarder Babe

Subject: Hoarder Babe

A desperate message comes in to mild mannered Professional Organizer Rachel Seavey while she is presenting at the San Jose Home Show.

Slipping discreetly into an empty room, no one notices the flash of light. But when she comes out and dashes out the front door all dressed in white, hazel eyes gleaming over her mask, there are gasps... isn't that, yes it is, its Hoarder Babe.
Arriving on the scene, she finds a man in front of a garage, buried up to his knees in a landslide of paper. What seems to be the problem sir? "My high school reunion is tomorrow, all I wanted to do was find my old yearbook. I know it’s in here somewhere". 

After quizzing him on the color and size of the book, and when it last looked at it, she slowly crawls on top of the pile. Using the expiration dates of old coupons to lead the way, she zeroes in on a bookcase in the back corner that is peeking through the top of the pile.

"Stand back everyone, this could get messy" she says before disappearing into a cloud of utility bills. After several tense minutes, a blue book " The Santa Cruz High School Fighting Vegetarians, Class of '82" slides down the pile to land at his feet. "Oh Thank You Hoarder Babe". She is about but correct him that it is "Hoarder Woman", but decides to accept it as a compliment. With a wink she is gone.

Back at the convention center, dabbing a little makeup on her wrists to conceal the paper cuts, she smiles and says "Hi I'm Rachel, I'd like to talk to you today about Chronic Disorganization".

By Lostin Piles

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Top 10 Tax Preparation Tips from Collector Care

Top 10 Tax Prep Tips from Collector Care 

1. Start early. You’ll receive tax forms from employers and banking institutions by January 31. Begin gathering everything you’ll need to file as soon as possible.

2. Hire a professional organizer. If your home office is overflowing with paper clutter, hire an organizer to help you gather all your important documents and prepare your tax information to be sent to an accountant.

3. File free. If your income is less than $58,000 the IRS offers free tax preparation software.

4. Make a checklist. Include all the information and documents you need to gather like:
  • Personal information and previous tax returns
  • Information and income for everyone in your household
  • Income from W-2 forms
  • Self-employment income and expenses; 1099 and K-1 forms
  • Education scholarships, loans and interest paid
  • Divorce decree and alimony paid
  • Vehicle expenses such as the cost of parking and tolls
  • Income from rentals or other sources like unemployment, gambling, alimony, etc.
  • Income from retirement, savings and investments
thank you for this image

5. Itemize deductions only if it’s more beneficial than a standard deduction. If itemizing deductions, you’ll need:
  • Form 1098 or other mortgage statements
  • State and local income tax paid (other than wage withholding)
  • Real estate and personal property tax records
  • Invoice showing amount of vehicle sales tax paid
  • HUD statement showing closing date of home purchase
  • Cash amounts donated to charitable organizations
  • Healthcare costs
  • Expenses related to investments
  • Job search costs and employment-related expenses

6. Avoid the top three most common tax errors:
  1. Claiming incorrect estimated tax payments.
  2. Deducting the wrong amount for the standard or itemized deductions.
  3. Selecting the wrong amount of tax from the tax table on paper tax returns.

7. Can’t file by April 15? No problem. All taxpayers get an automatic six-month filing extension to October 15. The extension is only for filing tax returns and not for payment of any taxes that may be due. Be sure to pay the total tax due by April 15 to avoid penalties and interest.

8. Don’t miss out on a return because you moved. Each year, the U.S. Post Office returns millions of dollars in refund checks as undeliverable. This is generally because taxpayers moved after they filed their taxes. The post office does not forward refund checks. Notify the IRS immediately of a change of address.
9. When to expect your refund:
  1. E-file return: Refunds are processed within seven to ten business days. Direct deposit refunds will reach your bank account within five to seven business days.
  2. Paper return: Direct deposit refunds for paper returns are deposited in six to eight weeks.

10. Reinvest your refund. Instead of spending your refund check on department store sales, invest it in an IRA or deposit it in your savings account. Your future self will thank you. 

Do you need help getting your paperwork together? Hire a Collector Care Professional Organizer to help you get through the daunting task of going through all of and shredding your paperwork.  We will sit by your side and go through it all together, no joke. Is your garage packed with paperwork? Bring it on! We sort through paperwork in bulk regularly and we enjoy it. If your paperwork scares you - don't face it alone. 925-548-7750.