Can you believe it is spring? I love spring—the smell of flowers, the rich scent of the earth, fresh cut grass…. Spring always makes me feel hopeful and that anything is possible. It is also a great time for bringing ways to be green into your organization. It doesn’t have to be complicated and you can have some fun! Let’s celebrate Earth Day a little early with some easy eco organizing tips.
First, I wanted to share some statics with you from TreeHugger.com. I would recommend reading the whole article. It is an interesting read with lots of good additional information:
1.4 Pounds: The amount of trash generated daily, on average, by every American. Packed in cubed feet it would be the height of the Leaning Tower of Pisa.
254 million tons: The amount of trash that Americans generate in a year.
22 billion: Plastic bottles thrown out yearly.
12 feet: The height of a wall from Los Angeles to New York City that could be made from tossed office paper every year.
300: Laps around the equator that could be made in paper and plastic cups, forks, and spoons disposed of annually.
2,000+: The number of active landfills in the country.
1000s: The number of inactive landfills in the country.
38.4 tons: the amount of garbage per person in Las Vegas landfills.
10 tons, or less: The amount of landfill waste per person in Idaho, North Dakota, and Connecticut
Hopefully, these statistics will motivate you to consider being green not only in your organizing but also your every day life.
Rachel’s Five Fun Eco Friendly Organizing Tips
1. Banker’s boxes. I love the size of banker’s boxes because they are easy to carry around the house and easy to label for sorting. My favorite part about banker’s boxes is that most of them have handles. They also stack nicely and are sturdy enough to reuse for years.
2. Creative repurposing for jewelry. Bangle bracelets are tricky to store. They don’t quite fit into most jewelry boxes and they don’t hang well on a hook.
Rather than stash them in the dark corners of your dresser drawers, create a bangle holder from items you already own.
Most bottles fit bangle bracelets quite well. Simply grab a bottle — any beer or soda bottle will do — and stack your bracelets vertically around the bottle.
If you want to make your bracelet collection part of your décor, opt for a decorative bottle that’s slightly larger than the bracelets. They’ll stack nicely and rest around the bottle without falling to the bottom.
3. T-shirts. If you have a lot of t-shirts, especially ones from Jr. High, High School, College or perhaps races where you have competed, teams you support, etc. consider having them made into a quilt.
You will release all that clutter and have something useful that is fun and lets you enjoy good memories every time you use it.
4. Go green with your cleaning products. Most of the time we already have these items in our kitchen or pantry such as vinegar, olive oil, baking soda, etc. Here are 8 eco friendly cleaning recipes you can try: http://www.womensvoices.org/take-action-with-womens-voices/green-cleaning-parties/green-cleaning-recipes/
5. I love to repurpose clear plastic containers that I get from the store when I purchase shower curtains, pillowcases or bedding. I use the smaller clear pillowcase containers to keep my cords together. I love that these containers are sturdy, see through and you can easily label with a sharpie. With the different sizes you can use them for to store a variety of things. No more trips to the store to spend money on containers you already have at home!
Here’s another site I love that is full of good information: http://earth911.com
How are you green? What are your favorite eco-friendly tips for organizing or for life? Share in the comments below.
Do you need to get organized and want to be as green as possible? Are you looking for creative organizers who can help you declutter and repurpose? Collector Care can help you get organized and be environmentally friendly while doing it!
Call Collector Care at 925.548.7750 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule your free 30-minute consultation and learn about how we can help your be more organized and eco-friendly.
Photo credit: http://lemerg.com/696549.html
Choosing What to Sort #3
If you have been following my blog, we have been doing a series on where to begin. Don’t forget to check out the other blogs on where to begin. You can view the previous step Preparing to Sort here: http://www.collectorcare.com/cleaning-organizing-new-year-preparing-sort/
Today we are going to talk about deciding WHAT to sort. I get this question a lot. What do I chose to start? What should I sort first? I am going to suggest that you read this blog once before you make some decisions and then read again as you determine what to sort.
If your house is completely chaotic with stuff everywhere, it may be a challenge to figure out where to start.
I personally love filing paperwork, but this is not a good place to start. Don’t begin with paperwork because this involves lots of follow up, work, making decisions such as whether to file or shred, you may need additional information, etc. This requires a lot of effort and I believe it is better to start out with something a little easier.
Don’t start with photos either because there is usually a large amount and not much reward because of the volume. Photos tend to trigger memories, both good and bad, and can take us down the road of the past and future. You could easily become distracted.
I suggest you start with recycling. Many people are concerned that their garbage may contain some recycling materials. If you feel like your garbage has some recyclables this might be a good place to start. You can make a big dent in this area AND it sets you up for success that you can build upon.
Choose a small area you feel ok to declutter, that doesn’t give you anxiety and where you can easily fill your “to go through” box.
The garage or attic is another good place to begin. If you haven’t been in these areas in five, ten, twenty years or more, that will actually help you. It is a good place to start because you tend to have a lot less attachment to things you haven’t seen in a long time then items that are on the dining room table that you see everyday.
Another easy area is the kitchen. You might not have been in the kitchen in a while. It tends to be easy to release expired, moldy and contaminated items. Don’t worry about putting everything perfectly in your containers. Stuff may not fit and that is okay; place those items neatly next to your box to go through.
Start small and make good decisions. Find a space in your home where you are ok with decluttering. Maybe an area where you have old, crusty art supplies that are you know you could release. Or the bathroom with makeup that is past its shelf life. Find things that are easy to let go of. You will gain a great sense of accomplishment going through these items. Don’t make it hard in beginning or you may stop sorting.
Once you have found an area, start placing items in your “go through” box and go to your sorting station. Stay focused and just put stuff in your box. Maybe put a piece of bright colored poster board where you’re decluttering so you know where your station is and can easily find it each time. If you need to, throw a blanket over other stuff so it doesn’t distract you.
Remember, take your time putting your items in your box and not being a perfectionist about the process. This will provide a solid foundation of items to go through.
Have your Keep, Donate, Important, Recycling and Garbage bags by your sorting station.
Next month we are going to talk about Keeping vs. Donating. If you can’t wait check out the podcast! http://hoardganize.libsyn.com/where-do-i-begin-keep-vs-donate-4
How do you like to sort when you are decluttering? By color, size, item? What has been the biggest challenge for you when it comes to sorting? Share your comments below.
Sorting is only the beginning of getting organized and reducing your clutter. Collector Care can help! Call Collector Care at 925.548.7750 or email email@example.com to schedule your free 30-minute consultation to discuss how we can help you with decluttering, hoarding, extreme clutter and getting organized.
Meme Credits: http://www.icanteachmychild.com/simple-sorting-for-young-toddlers/
I was asked the other day about clutter and how much was too much. You can have varying degrees of clutter. One of the ways Collector Care supports clients is by clearing extreme clutter. Extreme clutter is more common than most people realize. Here is what I consider to be extreme clutter:
When areas of the home cannot be accessed, rooms that you aren’t able to get into for years or even decades; rooms that aren’t able be used for the intention such as being able to shower in the bathroom or cook in the kitchen.
Hoarding vs. Extreme Clutter
You can have extreme clutter in only one area such as the attic. If you can’t use the room as it is intended, walk through the room, or if an emergency crew can’t access it because it isn’t clear, it is extreme clutter.
You can be a hoarder and have extreme clutter. You can have extreme clutter and NOT be a hoarder. Sometimes with extreme clutter someone has been physically or mentally unable take care of themselves, his or her home, or pets. This happens when you can’t move boxes or take out the trash. For example, seniors with dementia or the onset of Parkinson’s disease and no one is aware of what has happened.
Many times people with extreme clutter don’t ask for help. They don’t know or understand how dangerous the situation has become; they are embarrassed; or they do not want to be seen as a burden. A situation can go downhill fast. For example, a leak in the bathroom turns into a pipe bursting because they were embarrassed to call someone to fix the leak because of all the clutter. Now there is a non-working bathroom due to extreme clutter.
Most of my clients are not technically hoarders. Hoarders have strong attachment to items. Someone might not care and would like to get the stuff out of their homes and have NO attachment, but can’t physically or mentally make it happen. A hoarder can have an attachment towards trash. Hoarding and extreme clutter can intermix, but whether or not the person has an attachment is the main issue to determine if it is hoarding or extreme clutter.
Challenges to overcome
Physical. With extreme clutter you may be on a shaky foundation. An avalanche may happen because many times things are stacked to the ceiling. You might misjudge and might move the wrong item and an entire pile comes crashing down.
There is always lots of dust and this can cause breathing issues. Many of my clients have CPAP machines and they have large amounts of dust in them from the extreme clutter.
Mold or rodent damage is also a result of extreme clutter. Pets also don’t like clutter and start to relieve themselves in the home. Someone might not be able to physically take out the pets, and pet feces and urine are everywhere. Mold, rodent damage and pet feces and urine are hazardous to your health.
From a mental perspective, many of my clients don’t want to let go of items they spent their hard earned money buying. They have worked their entire lives and it is hard to let go of what they paid for. They tend to hang on to stuff with the intent to cosign or give it away, but that never happens.
No No No
If you have a friend or a loved one who has extreme clutter, do not judge them! This includes facial expressions and muttering. The last thing you want to do is hurt their feelings. They already feel horrible whether or not they show it.
Do not go in and throw stuff out when they are gone for a weekend or in the hospital. If you do this, it will stress them out and make the situation worse. It is okay to make sure there are no safety issues, but do not attempt a massive clear out without them there.
How to Help
Take it slow and earn their trust. Take the person out of their home and spend time with them. Create a bond and begin a conversation about what needs to change. Don’t make it all about the cutter. Talk about other things and learn about them and their interests.
Also, let go of YOUR idea of what a perfect home is, and allow them to let go of stuff at their pace. It is better to slowly make decisions than to try and rush them through the process. Don’t be overly critical. Most of the advice you would like to give they have heard before and just have been unable to execute.
I encourage you to work with a therapist as well as a professional organizer if you can. With a team effort they will feel loved and supported.
It is going to take time to go through and get rid of extreme clutter. I always tell my clients let’s plan to work every Tuesday for the next six months to a year. They do not want to hear this at first as many people have unrealistic time expectations.
I also encourage my clients to make other healthy decisions about themselves while we work together including working with a therapist, diet, exercise, self care, etc.
Do you have extreme clutter? What is your definition of extreme clutter? Share in the comments below.
If you have extreme clutter, it may be a bit overwhelming or challenging to get started. I would encourage you to reach out for help. There are lots of services and people, including Collector Care, that can help you with your extreme clutter.
Are you surrounded by extreme clutter? Don’t be embarrassed! Collector Care can help you get organized and clear clutter so you can be surrounded by what you love and what brings you joy!
Call Collector Care at 925.548.7750 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule your free 30-minute consultation and learn about how we can help you compassionately clear your extreme clutter.
Image credit: http://countylive.ca/blog/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/hoarding.jpg