Saturday, January 16, 2010

Stump the Organizer Saturday! Packaging Clutter

"This might seem like a trivial problem but it's driving a wedge between my husband and me. What do you do with all of the boxes for the electronics and toys? I want to throw them away but my husband says we have to keep them. If something breaks it has to be shipped back in the original packaging. Is that true? How do people keep all of those boxes? Thanks for your help and our charity is any animal rescue."

Thanks for your question Sandy. Actually, the question of what to do with the original packaging is pretty common one for organizers. I imagine after the holidays there is a lot of packaging cluttering up people's homes. The problem can be solved with a little research on your part and a marker.

The first step is to read the warranty literature for the product. Does the warranty explicitly state that a product must be shipped back in the original packaging? No? Then toss that packaging in an environmentally responsible fashion. By the way, shipping stores like the UPS Store will recycle Styrofoam peanuts.

If the warranty does indeed state that the product must be shipped in the original packaging, the next piece of information you need is the length of the manufacturer's warranty - also in the warranty literature. Next extrapolate the warranty expiration date from the purchase date. For example, if you bought a cordless phone on 12/1/09 and the length of the manufacturer's warranty is ninety days, then the warranty will expire on 3/1/10. Write "Expiration Date" and the expiration date on the exterior of the original packaging. Store that box in some out-of-the-way location. Attics and basements are great places to store this sort of thing.

When you happen to be in the storage area and you see boxes with past expiration dates, you can in good conscience dispose of them. Writing the expiration date on the box is the key to keeping the packaging just long enough.

If the warranty does not indicate retaining the original packaging, then you have the option of asking a shipper to package the product for you, if needed. Shippers are experts at safe packaging. Of course if space is not an issue in your home, you can save the original packaging - just remember to use the expiration date.

The next logical question is what to do with the paperwork. Here are some options:
* Tape the purchase receipt to the warranty and file it all in your "Warranties & Manuals" file.
* Write the purchase date on the warranty which is filed in the "Warranties & Manuals" file. File the purchase receipt in the "Tax Deductible Equipment or Supplies" file (if you can deduct the product from your taxes) or in the appropriate month file. If you file the receipt separately from the warranty, write down the name of the item on the receipt. It will easy to locate the exact receipt if it is labeled. Also make sure that your purge schedule for your files is after the warranty expiration date.

I hope this information removes the wedge and the excess packaging clutter from your lives, Sandy.

Stumped by an organizing dilemma? Send an SOS! Email your question to me for our Stump the Organizer Saturday! post. Also send the name of your favorite charity which will be entered in our end of year drawing for a $25 donation.
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