Last fall, I was tasked with moving Alliance’s Annapolis headquarters across town. The Alliance was in their old space for 12 years, which meant we accumulated a lot of stuff. I began working for the Alliance after COVID, and some days it was just me in the office, where formerly, it was a bustling space full of life. The organization then decided it would be best to downsize. We moved to the Annapolis Arts District, in downtown Annapolis, upgrading to Class A office space – which means we no longer need to worry about facilities management like maintenance of the building and grounds.

My personal goal for the move was to have very little trash left over. I had seen other companies move out of their spaces and send perfectly good and sometimes beautiful office furniture to the dump. There were a number of ways I reduced an old church full of 12 years of accumulated items.

Getting Organized

Packing up the old headquarters

The first thing I did was inventory every item in the office, from dishes and utensils to pens and staples. After all, we were moving from over 4,000 square feet to 1,200 square feet! We looked at the floor plan of the new office and determined exactly how many desks, chairs, file cabinets, etc. we had to move. I then got to work on figuring out what to do with what was left over.

The Pennsylvania team loads up some of the leftover office furniture

When in Doubt, Donate

I utilized to post our surplus large and small – office furniture to boxes of paper clips. The FreeCycle Network is a grassroots nonprofit movement of people who give and get free stuff in their own towns, and membership is free. It was so wonderful to meet people and donate items that we knew would be used. We helped a mom start her new business off with file cabinets and hanging file folders, a new teacher with a classroom computer, and a language teacher with a whiteboard and dry erase markers.

Chesapeake Bay Program and Alliance staff sorting books for donation at the old office.

Once we donated through Freecycle, we still had a great deal of items that needed a home. We utilized GreenDrop, who accepts donations on behalf of a local nonprofit. They pay their nonprofit partners for donated items, helping them fund programs in the community. We chose to have the proceeds from our donation go to the American Red Cross. You can drop off or schedule a pickup, packing donations into large plastic bags and boxes. They also provide a tax receipt for the IRS.

Tying up Loose Ends

Part of the move included needing to dispose of old files we no longer needed. Not only was it unnecessary per IRS regulations, we were also moving to becoming a fully digital office. We hired locally owned and operated Patriot Shredding to shred and recycle our sensitive documents. They also offer e-waste and electronic recycling in the DMV and PA.

Pre-COVID, the Alliance invested in an office-wide phone system upgrade. Due to the cost of the system, we decided to try and recoup some of the cost by selling the like-new phones. We were able to find a buyer and were happy they will be reused in another office.

The office-wide phone system, ready to go to its new home

Once we donated and sold all we could, we still had some furniture we could not find a home for. The final step was to hire a junk removal service to take those remaining items to the dump. We used another local small business, Easy Hauling Services, LLC. They were great to work with, and one truckload that went to the Millersville Landfill in Anne Arundel County to have the metal recycled. If you’ve never been to a landfill, it is actually a very efficient and impressive operation. They provide a waste management system that focuses on the convenient separation of recyclables and reuse of discarded materials to minimize the need to dispose of these materials at the landfill. It is an eye-opening experience to see where your everyday trash goes.

For the move itself I researched local companies. We chose Bookstore Movers, a small family business that serves the DC Metro Area. They were fast and efficient, and we highly recommend them!

Moving into the new office

Overall, the Alliance’s downsizing of headquarters was a daunting experience, but a great learning experience as well. I am proud to have helped others while trying to have the least negative impact on the environment. I hope that by sharing our experience it can inspire you to think twice before throwing things out. There are many people and organizations glad to use your unwanted items. One man’s trash truly is another man’s treasure. It just takes time and a little extra effort! Check out the Alliance’s new headquarters below.