8 Ways to Build Your Business Name in Your Local Community

Sam-Burlum-logo3 (2) Resized Written by, Samuel K. Burlum, Investigative Reporter and author, Published on 2/1/18, a SamBurlum.com Exclusive

Tags: Business, Community, Economy, Finance, Healthy Living, Small Business

Source: As the cost of marketing and advertising continue to rise and become out of reach for the average locally owned small business; business owners need to consider alternative community outreach efforts in getting in front of their next potential client.

Any proven marketing and advertising medium needs about ninety days in order to create top of the mind brand awareness with potential consumers who come in contact with marketing and advertising pieces. The cost of an effective marketing and advertising campaign can range tens of thousands of dollars, when including a mix of print, radio, social media, direct mail, and online advertising. Most small businesses cannot afford an effective comprehensive advertising campaign long term. On the other hand, small businesses cannot afford being seen by potential consumers.

So what does a business owner to do to get in front of people? There are many community oriented relationship building opportunities within the business’s local surroundings. Here are eight methods of reaching potential customers in place of expensive advertising campaigns.

One way a business can connect with the local community is to get involved in sponsoring local youth sports. Whether is sponsoring a local team or youth league, your business can benefit from being seen in the local youth sports network. Options include soccer, little league baseball, football, softball, and basketball. Most of the time, a business’s image and name can be found on player’s uniforms, on sports fields billboards, are mentioned in press releases, are mentioned by the game’s announcer, and are thanked on social media and in the media. Many parents will usually patron businesses that support their children’s interest.

2). Hold a free seminar at local library, VFW Hall, or Senior Facility Center. The great thing about hosing a free seminar at the local library, VFW hall, or local senior community center, is that in most cases, there is already a captive audience which can be notified about your event. Usually, these organizations will provide a monthly calendar of events for their constituents, which may have interest in the subject matter you desire to present. You will want to present an informative seminar on an industry topic you are an expert of knowledge in. Include in your presentation some facts and history about a leading concern, then present ideas and trends that are taking place to solve the issue. This is a place where you present as an expert, as an authority, without directly selling your products or services. In these cases, you’re providing a public service, where at the end you can hand out your contact information if anyone may have further questions or suggestions for you.

3). Volunteer for a good cause in the neighborhood (fund drive for local fire department or first aid squad; or raise money for an individual or family hit by a devastating life event). Volunteering is another way to build a bond with the community. You can sponsor a fundraiser, or just show up to support as many of the local fundraising efforts which benefit the community. When others see that you are generous with your time and your money, it will be notices. Whichever you give, money, your time, or both, make sure you do it from a place of sincerity, from the heart. People can spot fake intentions from across a room.

4). Get involved in your local church. Your local church can be a place where you can get to know others who share in the same values which you have in common. Whether it be to support their events, fundraisers, community outreach to the needy, or just make yourself available for set up and tear down of events, helping your local church can help you connect with others.

5). Get your business listed on Manta, Merchant Circle, and Yelp- as clients for them to leave a review and rate your business. Customer reviews and ratings rule the internet when grading a local businesses’ dedication or lack of customer service. You will want to ask your customers to leave a positive review on your Manta, Merchant Circle, or Yelp profile, after they have had a positive customer experience. Building a legion of online positive four and five star ratings and personal experiences by your clients can help spread the word of the great products and/or services you provide.

6). Join a local business or trade organization. Rotary, Kiwanis, Chamber of Commerce, BNI, LeTip, are all business to business environments. By joining these groups allow you to network and connect with fellow business owners and leaders within the community. These networks offer a number of opportunities, including but not limited to sourcing new vendors and suppliers, connecting with prospective clients, acts as a support system, and even provides educational resource tools to build your business.

7). Show up to other community events and town meetings. Getting involved in local politics can either hurt or help your business. It is wise to take some time to understand the legislative climate your business is subjected on a local, regional, and even state level. Showing up to a few meetings will provide you first hand insight to the challenges your business may face as a member of the tax paying community. Other attendees will take notice that you have an interest in the interworking of the local government, which a dialog can then be created.

8). Write a blog of how to tips for your clients. Public awareness and public education are methods for informing your clients on subject matters important to them. You can share how to do something or how to fix something. If you own a hardware store, you can discuss how to do a particular home project, and then at the end of the discussion, provide a parts list and a coupon for potential readers to patron your store. If you are into health and wellness, you can share recipes for healthy meals, or a fitness regiment that has helped your own health situation. Blogging allows for you to connect with potential customers by sharing your expertise from the comfort of your living room.

Most of these practices only require your time. If you are to be noticed and remembered by your local community, then you need to be proactive in providing an extra value service that is important to them. Done with sincere intention, potential consumers will take notice of your noble efforts.

Samuel K. Burlum is an investigative reporter who authors articles related to economic development, innovation, green technology, business strategy, and public policy concerns. Burlum is also a career entrepreneur who lends his expertise as a consultant to start-up companies, small businesses, and mid-size enterprises, providing advisement in several areas including strategic business planning, business development, supply chain management, and systems integration. He is also author of The Race to Protect Our Most Important Natural Resource-Water, Main Street Survival Guide for Small Businesses, and Life in the Green Lane-in Pursuit of the American Dream.


Comprehensive Tax Code Reform That Will Work

Sam-Burlum-logo3 (2) Resized

Written by, Samuel K. Burlum, Investigative Reporter and author, Published on 2/22/18, a SamBurlum.com Exclusive

Tags: Banking, Business, Community, Economy, Finance, Government, Healthy Living, Small Business, Tax

Source: As the House, Senate, and Executive Branch of Government look to bring closure and pass a tax code reform into law; key areas of the tax code reform must be considered. With a system of piece meal laws layered over three decades, where does the government begin to streamline the tax code; simplify it; and remove burdens for most of its citizenship? We review some of the alternative answers to help shape up tax code reform.

Whenever government takes up the challenge of tax code reform; it becomes one of the most heated and contentious debates between the political parties; and between law makers and policy enforcement.

On one side of the aisle, Democrats say tax reform aimed at elevate burdens on corporations and business owners push the tax paying burden to the working class to have to pay more; leaving out those that have to pay more than their fair share; the wealthy.

Republicans are quick to respond with proposed policy that if you burden corporations and small business owners with the majority of the tax liability, they will be sure to cut jobs, which means a decrease in payroll and income tax contributions by both businesses and workers alike.

However, during the long drawn fight to parcel together a tax code reform bill; both sides miss many important targets that can have a drastic effect on how tax code reform can shape for the better.

One area of focus is when addressing CAFÉ and GHG standards; tax incentives and credits for fuel efficient and environmentally friendly vehicles. Every consumer of a new vehicle pays a gas guzzler tax as part of the overall window sticker price of the vehicle. This fee is paid by the engine-vehicle manufactures themselves then is passed along to every new vehicle purchaser. In the past there was a designation for multiple tax credit set asides, allowing for a consumer or a business to make specific deductions for their purchase of a specific vehicle, or technology.

What has been proposed is a change in the way this tax credit is even awarded. Instead of being vehicle or technology specific; awarding only a few of the specially selected vehicles or technologies; is to make the tax credit performance based. Having this tax credit performance based means that instead of just a few special items allowed to fall under this exemption, more technologies and market solutions could be considered by the auto industry if the tax credit was given based on performance of the technology or vehicle achieved above and beyond current CAFÉ or GHG environmental standards. It has been proposed that one could structure a performance based credit could be awarded if a technology or vehicle product provided over 10%, 20%, or even 30% improvement in engine fuel efficiency, and in lowering harmful vehicle emissions beyond the current benchmarks. This would allow for more technological advancements to compete in the market place, give the auto industry to search out more grass roots ideas and concepts; and be a better deal for consumers.

Another area of tax code reform important for consideration is the Made in the USA tax credit. Until they have reached their economies of scale in their production, small to medium manufacturing businesses cannot compete against similar goods made for far less overseas which are imported and sold by big box retailers. This proposed tax credit would allow for more small to medium businesses to deduct start-up cost and ramp up cost; allowing these smaller domestic manufacturers to price their goods competitively against cheaper goods imported from outside the country and sold at large chain retailers. As a sidebar, reevaluating tariffs on foreign made goods and increasing tariffs on items that are made in the USA of better quality would allow for these small businesses and manufacturers the ability to have some domestic market advantage.

The Affordable Health Care Act; also known as Obama Care, has been a train wreck for many. Small businesses owners have seen their premiums and deductibles skyrocket; while seeing a decrease in the coverage they were once afforded. This expense, which was also passed along to small businesses as a way to make small business provide health care to their employees has done just the opposite. Many small business owners no longer can afford to offer health care benefits; which has resulted in some businesses losing some of their most qualified and productive employees to larger competitors who can afford the mandate.

This policy has also affected workers. Employees have found themselves paying more to health care insurance premiums, while receiving less benefit of coverage. The official poverty line, is anyone making less than $1005 per month ($12,060 per year). As the goal post moves for how much money it takes to support a family (including rent, utilities, food, transportation, education, and other necessities); families are forced to choose between food on the table or health care. In some cases, wage earners could not afford health care insurance prior to the Affordable Health Care Act. Now those same wage earners still cannot afford health care, and are penalized or taxed for not having health care insurance.

There are really only two alternatives in solving this issue…the first is to eliminate the AHCA all together and start over with a new slate that provides wage earners to either participate in a public system or to opt out for their own private policy and get health care on their own. In the event the wage earner wants neither, they could contribute to their own private health care savings account, setting aside a portion of their money each pay period for a rainy day. This savings account can travel with the wage earner just the same a 401k plan would when the wage earner switches jobs or careers. The other alternative is to create a single pay system, also known as universal health care, which many socialist and some free nations have employed.

Traditionally, there have been five income brackets for determining how much tax each wage earner must pay based on their income; which is a sliding scale ranging from 25% of your income (usually lower working class) to over 50% of your income (higher middle and wealthy class) must pay on their income. Granted there are a number of deductions and tax credits which have been adopted over time to help tax payers on all levels pay less; however to eliminate the debate of who is to pay their “fair share,” there is one singular solution that would solve this argument; the creation of one flat percentage income tax percentage rate. If everyone paid the same percentage on their income; each tax payer is equal in the eyes of the tax code, regardless of their social economic scale. This would also eliminate the need for special deductions by each constituency in order to posture their position.

A flat sales tax can also be implemented which could be shared between the states and the federal government. This tax and what is taxed could be standardized across state boarder. Usually those that have more income spend more, and as they spend more, they pay more to sales taxes on their purchases.

A reform suggestion to unemployment that would spur off the creation of jobs comes from across the Atlantic Ocean. In Italy, they have a program for wage earners who lost their job. If they and nine other people want to form a business, they can collectively withdraw their unemployment in a lump sum, and use that money to create a new entrepreneurial venture. Since each wage earner would own a piece of the business, the new business is driven by the performance of the group collectively; focusing their efforts on success instead of just doing enough to get by. Though in Italy, over half of these ventures fail; the other half that succeed, generate enough job opportunities to keep people from having to re-enroll for unemployment benefits.

The same program can be created here in the United States. A set aside can be created within the unemployment tax contribution; where employees are given the option to either collect unemployment over time; or take a lump sum and start a business with a group of other unemployed individuals that may have complimentary skill sets for a future business idea.

Ultimately, tax code reform means that the government needs to get its own house in order so it does not rely on more of its citizenship’s earnings to pay for government’s functions, but less of its own people’s money. Once government can control and lessen its spending to under its means ( in this case revenue from taxes) then real tax code can be considered, as tax code previsions can be eliminated, and allowing for the people to keep more of its own hard earned money.

Samuel K. Burlum is an investigative reporter who authors articles related to economic development, innovation, green technology, business strategy, and public policy concerns. Burlum is also a career entrepreneur who lends his expertise as a consultant to start-up companies, small businesses, and mid-size enterprises, providing advisement in several areas including strategic business planning, business development, supply chain management, and systems integration. He is also author of The Race to Protect Our Most Important Natural Resource-Water, Main Street Survival Guide for Small Businesses, and Life in the Green Lane-in Pursuit of the American Dream.


Who are the Eco-Warriors?

Sam-Burlum-logo3 (2) ResizedWritten by, Samuel K. Burlum, Investigative, Reporter And author Published on 1/30/18 a SamBurlum.com Exclusive

Tags: Business, Community, Economy, Farming, Finance, Government, Healthy Living, Small Business

Source: As there is more public awareness and public education about environmental concerns related to fresh drinking water supplies, air pollution, and what occurs on land, local advocacy continues to grow to protect our communities from these threats. So, who is fighting for the planet? We take a look at some of the non-profit groups that fight on the side of a cleaner environment.

We know they are out there.  Occasionally, one of their spokespersons are quoted for an article related to a battle with contributors to water, air, or soil pollution. They are photographed and filmed during their rallies and events, as the opposition to big energy, big oil, big industrial machine, and bad political policy. Their fight is beyond the newspaper headings and court rooms. They fight for the environment, for clean water, clean air, and land conservation. So, who are they? They are the Eco-Warriors, a category of organizations that from around the world stand up for environmental justice and the people whom which pollution affects.

The Sierra Club is one of the first environmental working groups ever established to tackle threats to our land, air, and water. Based in Oakland, California, the Sierra Club has extensions in every state. The Sierra Club was originally founded by the legendary conservationist John Muir in 1892. They are one of the largest of the Eco-Warrior Organizations, having a membership reaching over three million people. They lay claim to some of the most important environmental legislation including their assistance in the passing of The Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, and the Endangered Species Act. The Sierra Club is currently led by Executive Director Michael Brune, and his Executive Team.

Friends of the Earth are led by Erich Pica, President, who has been working on behalf of the environment for decades. Friends of the Earth utilizes a mix of strategies in their mission to fight on behalf of the environment, including advocacy campaigning, instigating lawsuits, rallies and events, and organizing members on the ground. Friends of the Earth have been around for almost fifty years. With offices in both Washington, D.C. and Berkeley, California, Friends of the Earth campaigns on local, state, and federal levels, on issues related to fossil fuel use reduction, standing up for the Rain Forest, advocating for organic and chemical free farming, and advocating for protection from corporate and industrial polluters.

When the political policy does not match the needs of the environment, the first in Washington, D.C. to take notice is the Natural Resources Defense Council, or the NRDC for short. The NRDC is on the front line of the environmental policy making debate. Combining the power of skilled and trained law professionals and its one million plus membership, the National Resources Defense Council leverages their knowledge, capital, relationships, and membership to speak up and act on behalf of the environment, clean water, clean air, and proper use of the ground under our feet. Since 1970, the NRDC has addressed concerns in the areas of climate change/global warming, clean air, energy and transportation, food and agriculture, health and environment, environmental justice, urban solutions, and sustainability, while also having an eye to the worldwide stage in international environmental battlefronts. Rhea Shu is currently the NRDC President.

Earth Justice headquartered in San Francisco, California, is led by Trip Van Noppen, the organization’s President. Earth Justice puts the tool of the law in the hands of its membership and advocacy groups; in challenging private, commercial, and government entities accountable to the law when they infringe on the rights of mother earth. They believe in standing up for the wild (animals and plants); healthy communities and the people within those communities; clean energy (including renewable energy sources) and a healthy climate. Earth Justice began their journey in 1965 when a group of attorneys, passionate about the environment, began to challenge the courts in the rights of the people for a clean and healthy environment. In many cases, Earth Justice will partner with other environmental working groups to address issues of coal ash, fracking, pesticides, salmon, and wolves. With over 400 cases on deck, Earth Justice is currently leading the way to bring justice to the planet

Water.org is the non-profit organization founded by Matt Damon and Gary White, who’s main purpose is to provide access to clean drinking water, sanitation and education for impoverished communities, villages, and in developing countries. Water.org partners with local organizers on the ground to establish new freshwater wells and provides education to communities on how to better manage their new-found resources. Based in Kansas City, Water.org has contributed to the improvement of lives of people around the globe including in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Caribbean Islands. Water.org has been able to provide over 9 million people with access to safe and clean water and sanitation, while helping communities institute practices that lessen their environmental impact. Water.org prides itself on the fact most of its work and impact is conducted and seen in the field where people need the most help.

The World Green Energy Symposium, directed by Professor Robert Gallagher, takes a different approach to solving environmental issues. The WGES gathers together many of brilliant minds together in one hall, including innovators, policy makers, financiers, community activists, educators, inventors, elected officials, green enthusiasts, and eco-warriors, to discuss the issues at stake and share solutions in mitigating problems related to mother earth. From energy generation and usage, to green tech innovation; from regulation and policy, to new ideas and rule-making, the World Green Energy Symposium has offered this cross-market dialog, resulting in real-time solutions being put to work in the field. Each year, the WGES honors one entity that stands out among the rest for their work, innovation, and achievements on behalf of the environment. The NOVA Award has been deemed the Oscar of the Green Community, and has been awarded to schools of thought, companies, and government agencies that have championed their ideas from concept to finished product in making a difference.

Clean Water Action, with chapters in over fourteen states, is one of the leading advocacy working groups in pitching for clean drinking water, and aims to protect natural water sources, land, and air. Since 1972, Clean Water Action has championed for the environment, cleaner communities, and regulation that puts mother earth back at the helm. In recent history, Clean Water Action has focused their efforts on fighting the practice of fracking for oil and gas, to keep toxic chemicals and pollutants out of waterways, lakes, streams, and rivers, and to build a future of clean energy and water usage. Clean Water Action has been aggressive and very vocal in the State of New Jersey, which is highest on the EPA’s list for having the most superfund or brownfield sites. Led by Robert Wendelgass, Clean Water Action has their main office in Washington, D.C.

Green America, based in Washington, D.C., is led by Alisa Gravitz, which has been on the side of the environment for decades. Green America’s mission is to harness economic power, the strength of the consumers, investors, businesses, and the marketplace to create a socially just and environmentally sustainable society. Green America focuses on climate change, food production, finance and green investments, labor, social justice, and green living. Green America has gotten some attention in the last six months, as Green America has brought to light the infringement of the Back Forty Mine, which is beginning to threaten the sacred Menominee River, a vital source of clean fresh drinking water to over 35 million people, as it feeds into the Great Lakes.

There are many more Eco-Warriors out there, which look to protect nature’s wildlife and national treasures, working on behalf of the planet. Remember, we only get one planet, so we must help mother earth win the fight.

Samuel K. Burlum is an investigative reporter who authors articles related to economic development, innovation, green technology, business strategy, and public policy concerns. Burlum is also a career entrepreneur who lends his expertise as a consultant to start-up companies, small businesses, and mid-size enterprises, providing advisement in several areas including strategic business planning, business development, supply chain management, and systems integration. He is also author of The Race to Protect Our Most Important Natural Resource-Water, Main Street Survival Guide for Small Businesses, and Life in the Green Lane-in Pursuit of the American Dream.

How Would General Colin Powell Lead if He Owned A Small Business?

Sam-Burlum-logo3 (2) Resized Written by, Samuel K. Burlum, Investigative Reporter and author Published on 2/8/18 a SamBurlum.com Exclusive

Tags: American Free Enterprise, Business, Community, Economy, Government, Small Business, Tax

Source: Every small business has its share of challenges, and each successful business owner must have an iron stomach to lead their business through times of growth or economic downturns, often making unpopular decisions for the good of all.  One of the most successful Generals who ever served this country also had to make difficult choices.  So, let’s entertain a hypothetical situation:  General Colin Powell got bored with retirement and decided to open a small business, offering a set of products and services he was passionate about and felt would be of great service to the community. How would he manage his business? How can you apply his leadership style and methods to your business? Are you ready to take charge of your business to win over Main Street?

“Command is lonely.” Another way to express this is, “It is lonely at the top.” In business, the business owner cannot be everyone’s friend. They must be a leader. You can expect not to be liked by some of your employees, or by your competition, or even by some of your neighbors or even some of your own family, as they may become jealous and resentful of your small business success. What I have found is that most people who would be the first to complain they have less than someone else, are usually the last people to take risk and responsibility for their own situation. They are also the most unlikely to ever own a small business venture, and would rather criticize others from the cheap seats and sidelines.

As the leader at the top, your business will require you to put in the time investment when no others will. That means staying late to serve a customer or to clean your store front. That means giving up doing the “normal things” with family and friends when you need to fill in for an employee who just called out sick. It means spending extra time beyond the normal business hours to take care of the business paperwork and accounting or marketing functions. As a business leader you must accept the idea of being an army of one when everyone else has gone home for the day.

General Powell once said, “Being responsible sometimes means pissing people off.” How does that apply to small business ownership? A small business owner must make unpopular choices that may not sit well with employees. A business owner may decide to set hours that are designed to cater to their clientele, which may mean staying open late on weekdays or open on weekends, when most people would rather be home or out with friends and family. When a small business owner sets the schedule, someone is assigned hours they are required to work that may not be popular. The business is being responsible by recognizing its clients’ needs and accommodating them by the hours of operation the business is open.

Another example that can be applicable to General Powell’s quote is when dealing with a difficult customer. As a business owner, it is not always possible to satisfy the demands of a client. Say you own a hardware store, and a potential customer walks in the door. They desire to purchase an item, but demand you provide the item at the same price or lower price as a big box retailer down the street. You explain your position of why your price has already been set. You take the time out to educate the potential customer about the higher quality and value your store offers; and yet the potential client begins to argue with you, voicing their demands to the point of shouting at the sales counter. In some cases, you must stand your ground if you believe in the value you offer, and not compromise on your position, even if it pisses off the potential customer who never stepped foot in your store before and may never return.

General Powell also shared, “Keep looking below the surface of appearances. Don’t shrink from doing so, because you might not like what you find.”  Basically, never stop in your journey in improving your business. There is always room for improvement. If a business is not looking to improve itself, or looking to grow, it will begin to fail and die. A business owner can never become complacent and think they are on top, if they do, the advantage automatically will be given to the competition. A business owner must always stay hungry and be in search of new methods or practices that improve the profitability and branding of their business image. I have found that every small business has one area of business competency which lags behind the rest of the operations and functions of that business, and to not go back and improve these areas when resources may be abundant, creates an internal risk.

Also, “Have fun with your command.” This means playing hard when you have earned it. Never forget the passion that was the reason why you went into business for yourself. Look for the joy and celebrate the joy of owning your own business enterprise. Every once in a while, sit back and enjoy the rewards of your efforts, even if it’s in the small things. Remember, when you enjoy what you are doing, it no longer becomes work, it is play.

Most of all, General Colin Powell believes, “Perpetual optimism is a force multiplier.”  The direction of any organization will trend toward where the attitude of the people involved take it. If the leader of the business is always looking forward, even in difficult times, their influence can spread quickly to give hope throughout the business. On the flip side of the coin, the sour outlook of any employee or manager can have a devastating effect on the productivity of the organization. It only takes one sour apple to poison the entire situation. A positive attitude can uplift employees when the message is reflected that the business and its leaders are capable.

So, how do you think General Powell would run his business? Do you think he would operate it like an army; ready to serve its clients at any moment? Would his employees be ready in a moment’s notice to meet their objectives?  Would his business be the well-oiled machine you can set your watch to? If he ran his business like he did the armed forces, you can count on it.

Samuel K. Burlum is an investigative reporter who authors articles related to economic development, innovation, green technology, business strategy, and public policy concerns. Burlum is also a career entrepreneur who lends his expertise as a consultant to start-up companies, small businesses, and mid-size enterprises, providing advisement in several areas including strategic business planning, business development, supply chain management, and systems integration. He is also author of The Race to Protect Our Most Important Natural Resource-Water, Main Street Survival Guide for Small Businesses, and Life in the Green Lane-in Pursuit of the American Dream.

Recycle, Re-purpose, Reuse; Giving New Life to Used Items

Sam-Burlum-logo3 (2) ResizedWritten by, Samuel K. Burlum, Investigative Reporter and author, Published on 2/1/18 a SamBurlum.com Exclusive

Tags: Business, Community, Economy, Finance, Government, Green, Healthy Living

Source: In comparison against most smaller and undeveloped nations, the United States categorically is one of the wealthiest nations in the world. When compared to the average household in other nations, even the poor are not considered so poor. As a nation we also are some of the world’s most consuming population of material things. Our nation also wastes just as much as it consumes. So how do we lessen our consumer footprint not to be so wasteful?

There is an old saying, “Everything has its place.” Go into any suburban home in post-modern day era, and you most likely will find a basement, an attic, a closet, a garage, or even a shed full of items which have outlasted their initial use. It seems that most households in America will replace their cell phone every six months, a kitchen appliance once a year, and then there is the question of what to do that occasional odd ball item which someone may give us as a gift, yet serves no immediate purpose in our household.

So what are we to do with all of this stuff? The obvious answer is if the item is much past its prime, beyond the cost of repairing it; it is time to recycle it. Every year, landfills run out of space because we still do not recycle enough. Glass, plastic, metal, electronics, appliances, wood, paper, cardboard, automobiles, and even some types of concrete-cement all can be re-processed and converted into other products. Before you throw something into the garbage can, ask yourself can that item be recycled. Most county governments have a waste disposal and recycling center which you can donor your renewable waste. Salvage yards will accept every type of metal and in some cases, plastic, glass, cardboard, and electronics. Wood items are ground down to make mulch or cardboard.

If you have children, you will know this scenario all too well; you buy an outfit, a pair of shoes, or a toy for your young child just to watch them outgrow it in a matter of a few months. There are a few options…You can trade up your gently used items for either cash, store credit, or a donation voucher at a local consignment shop which deals mainly with children’s items. One store in mind is called Once Upon a Child, where slightly used items are cleaned up and prepared for resale well below the original sticker price. You can find many name brand items can be found in these types of stores for a fraction of the former sticker price, thus allowing disadvantage parents to purchase name brand clothing for their children, without the high cost. You can also donate your items to your local church or to a family that might have children that might be slightly younger than yours; thus allowing for the children items to get a second life.

Just about any household item can be cleaned up and resold at a consignment shop, flea market, if the age of the item is correct, and antique shop, or even at a church bazaar fundraiser. There is an old saying, “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” Your item may have outlived its use with you, however for someone else the item’s life is just beginning. Common items that you can find at flea markets or bazaars include tools, car parts, children’s toys, household decor, and even furniture.

You can try finding a new home for your item online. Craig’s List and EBAY are online havens for folks looking to sell and buy slightly used items. Even Facebook offers their version of the local marketplace. The most popular categories to buy and sell used items include used furniture, used cars and trucks, used garden tools and equipment; and children’s items. You will also be surprised at the amount of private sellers of jewelry, collectibles, and closeout items from businesses which are liquidating their left over inventory.

Many non-profit organizations have programs where you can donate your used and undesired car, boat, truck, trailer, or recreational vehicle. The standard previously followed, is that the donor would receive a donation voucher that they could write off their taxes in the amount of the lowest retail book value for their donated vehicle. In more current years, the donor gets a voucher for their item that relates to the scrap value of their former item. Then the non-profit will usually deal with a third party who would determine whether to scrap the item, or offer it for sale at the higher retail value. The public has no idea how much more the third party makes or how much the non-profit will actually receive. In this case, its best to sell your item as a private sale to another individual and then donate the cash amount to the non-profit you desire to assist.

The latest trend is that something old can be made new again. Wooden pallets can be taken apart and remade into shelves, storage crates, or even décor. Metal sheathing can be re-purposed into material for walls, shelving, made into crafts and containers, or even used in the construction or renovation of a home or business. Glass bottles and jars are great for making sand art pieces, planter pots for small flowers, or even fill them with candy or treats as gifts. Even old lumber, such as rustic beams, floorboards, shiplap siding, can be re-purposed for giving a new home the rustic look, or can be used to replace damaged lumber in a restoration project.

Even some waste products around the home can serve another purpose. Food scraps such as used coffee grinds, egg shells, banana peels and bones from meat when added to leaves and grass clippings, make for a great compost mixture for the at home gardener. Cardboard and newspaper can serve as a weed barrier in vegetable gardens and are safe for the soil.  When the cardboard and newspaper break down, they provide contents for earth worms to use to help enrich the garden soil.

Many of us are used to taking former dish and bathroom towels once they are past their prime and put those towels back to work in the garage as wash rags for the car or lawn equipment. Plastic bags from the grocery store can be reused as small garbage bags around the home. Brown paper bags from the grocery store can be made into protective book covers for children’s school books. Gift boxes can be held on to and reused again the following holiday season. Just about any item around the home can be re-purposed and reused into something else.

It is our responsibility as stewards of planet earth, to find ways to get the most life out of the consumer goods and material items around us. With limited landfill space, and the need to protect our precious fresh water supplies, the more we can do to recycle, reuse, and re-purpose, gives us one less item that makes its way to the landfill before its prime.

Samuel K. Burlum is an investigative reporter who authors articles related to economic development, innovation, green technology, business strategy, and public policy concerns. Burlum is also a career entrepreneur who lends his expertise as a consultant to start-up companies, small businesses, and mid-size enterprises, providing advisement in several areas including strategic business planning, business development, supply chain management, and systems integration. He is also author of The Race to Protect Our Most Important Natural Resource-Water, Main Street Survival Guide for Small Businesses, and Life in the Green Lane-in Pursuit of the American Dream.

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