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Author: Naomi CookCloset Digital Apps General Home Organizing Productivity Recyling Seasonal Time Management

Summertime Organizing: Cool Down the “Write” Way

We are in the midst of a heatwave here in Eastern PA. Today for example is 97°, with a feels like temp of 106°…ouch! Not the most conducive weather for organizing, right?

Well, definitely don’t work in the garage, or the attic…basically avoid anyplace that isn’t close to air conditioning or where heat rises. That still leaves some great spaces throughout your home to work in. However, before you even start, grab some ice-cold water or your favorite cold beverage and sit down to write out some to- do lists.

Nothing fancy, a spiral bound notebook from your child that still had useable pages in it will do; you know that they’ll want something brand new for the next school year anyway! I bought myself a fun notebook from TJ Maxx (see picture), in my favorite color, to make it less of a chore.

Professional Organizing Tips

Prefer an app for your to-do lists? Trello is a fantastic app which lets you create endless topics (lists) and tasks (cards).

Start by writing the name of each room in your home on a separate page. The great thing about these lists is that they can be a summer and beyond project…no need to rush it! Next, start your brain dump, where you can write tasks to be done in each room. Write down what comes to mind and add more as you think of it. The tasks should be specific and therefore hopefully less overwhelming. It’s up to you to choose how many tasks you want to complete at a time!

For example:

Master Bedroom Closet Tops

  1. Make a first pass through the tops
  2. For tops that are not your style or don’t fit anymore, start a bag for donation
  3. For tops that are beyond repair (i.e. ripped and stained) and take to a fabric recycling bin like Planet Aid
  4. For tops that were expensive, start a bag for a consignment store

Do you have other things come to mind, that aren’t specific to a room? Write them down too! Getting too much junk mail? Look to catalogchoice.org and optoutprescreen.com. Getting too many spam calls? Try an phone app like, Should I answer?, with a cute little octopus icon, which turns green for a positive call or red, to know instantly if a call has received negative ratings, and block them on your phone! I know, I know, once a company is blocked by using one number, they will move to another, but every little block counts!

Pen and paper or app, the key to dissolving a cluttered mind is to write things down, so that you have space in your brain for more important things to think about, like what flavor of ice cream to get tonight!

Author: Anna SicalidesConsignment Donating healthy living Organizing Recyling

Earth Day Ideas from a Professional Organizer

Recycle Tree

Spring is finally springing up all around us, daffodils are blooming and the forsythia is blossoming into that amazing yellow color.

April Is The Month of Renewal

Easter and Passover are a time of new beginnings. April is also the month we celebrate the earth. Earth Day began in Philadelphia in 1970 (Belmont Plateau anyone?). In the organizing and productivity industry, we consider every day Earth Day! When we work with clients on a home organizing project, we teach our clients about recycling. There is so much that we recycle to help preserve our earth. Here are some of the resources that we use to locate the most appropriate place to donate and recycle in our area:

  • Rubbish: Your county, township, and trash hauler are your primary resources – their websites have information on what you need to recycle, how it needs to be prepared and when their hazardous waste and recycling events are (usually in the spring and fall).
  • ReSale: Selling things is another form of recycling, Facebook Marketplace and Nextdoor.com are easy and local. You can offer things for FREE on these sights as well.
  • RecycleGoogle.com “what you want to recycle+ your zip code” will help you find more resources. Earth911 – This is an informative website that also has lists of locations that accept all types of material for recycling by your zip code.
    Freecycle – This is a community board where you can post items that you no longer want and hopefully there is someone out there who is looking for what you want to move on to a better home. I found a woman who needed notebooks, I had tons of notebooks…she came by and picked them up one day! Out of my office! Professional organizer favorite. Grocery Stores – are great places to recycle those pesky plastic bags. Whole Foods -currently has containers for corks, plastic, and cell phones Mom’s Organic Market– the most comprehensive in our area has drop off bins for: bar wrappers, Brita filters, cell phones, batteries, drink pouches, food squeeze pouches, glasses, health & beauty packaging, cork, plastic and shoes- they also have other collections for specific items throughout the year, Christmas lights is a popular one. Staples and Best Buy take most electronic recycling. Goodwill– recycles electronics and fabric
  • Shredding: There are shredding events weekly in many locations- check local websites or do an online search for “shredding + your zip code”. Staples and your local UPS Store have shredding services
  • Donate:
    • Local Libraries– accept books and other media. Do not give them old text books, encyclopedias or VHS tapes that you recorded from your TV. Call your library to double check.
    • Habitat for Humanity -These folks use your donations to raise capital for their projects. I have had them pick up a jacuzzi, doors, furniture and windows. Call your local store because what they accept changes depending on what they have in stock, sometimes they will pick up.
    • Clothing and household goods including small furniture can be donated to Goodwill, Green Drop, various veterans groups, your local hospital and thrift shops.
  • Hazardous Waste: Local townships and counties regularly hold Hazardous Waste collection events. Check their websites. This is a guide for South Eastern PA. Look carefully at what is accepted.

These organizations will pick up from your home:

Consignment stores are an option as well.

However currently there is an abundance of stuff that people are getting rid of, they are very picky, so what you try to consign has to be in very good condition.

Finally, there are many auction houses that have niches that may meet your needs.

Depending on what you have there is usually an auction house or specialty sale that items can go to. When you sell at auction houses and consignment shops there is a fee usually between 30% and 50%.

Be kind to our earth…

 

Author: Gabrielle Watters-SmithRecyling

Spring Into Action – the 411 on Recycling and Disposal

Most of us want to waste less and recycle more in an effort to take care of Planet Earth. However, the “who, what, when, where and how” can be confusing and foil our best intentions. This causes clutter in our homes and a pang of guilt in our minds.

With Earth Day approaching, let’s make the effort to shred our papers, recycle outdated electronics, and collect and properly dispose of no longer needed or expired hazardous household products and prescriptions. Below are many useful links to spring you into action:

GREATER PHILADELPHIA AREA:
Check counties below for local recycling information and upcoming hazardous waste and shredding events in your area:

Unused Medication:

Electronic Recycling:

Community Shredding Events:

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protections provides information and resources for Recycling & Disposal Programs in our area. Tips for handling composting, motor oil, tires, electronics, waste reduction, drug take-back programs, and household hazardous waste are also offered.

NEW JERSEY:
The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection’s Recycling website will answer most of your recycling questions. Find out what upcoming events are happening in your area by clicking on “Your County’s Recycling” page.

Unused Medications:

Electronics:

DELAWARE:
The Delaware Solid Waste Authority covers all of your recycling and disposal questions in their handy and easy to follow website. You will want to bookmark this one!

Unused Medications:

The benefits of recycling help your environment, your community, your home and you!

“Recycling turns things into other things. Which is like MAGIC!”
-Author Unknown

Author: Naomi CookClutter General Organizing Organizing Products Recyling Small Spaces Travel

Your Car: Clean, Clear and Under Control!

Car CleanoutWhen was the last time you took everything out of the trunk and off of the floor of your car and really explored what is hanging out in there? Maybe you have some store returns to make that happen to be intermixed with fallen French fries, sticky soda bottles and stinky gym shoes…ick. It sounds like a scenario for those Febreze Car Fresheners!

On the next nice day when you can dedicate a few hours, head out to your car and follow these simple steps.

1)  Remove EVERYTHING – Yes, I said everything! First, take out the bigger items from the floor and then the stuff from your glove compartment, center console, door pockets and trunk. Don’t forget to look in all those other nifty hidden compartments, as well. For now, keep these items in neat (or as neat as possible) piles in your garage, on the patio or in shopping bags.

2)  Clean – Clean your interior windows including the front windshield, the rear window and the gauges. Next, dust and clean your dashboard. Finally, vacuum the floors and seats. If you haven’t done this process in a while, you may just prefer to head to the car wash and let them take care of it for you. A good car wash may be something worthwhile to get rid of that pesky pollen…achoo!

3)  Trash/Recycle – Get a trash bag as well as another bag for recycling. Toss any items that are trash, like those fries! Recycle any maps or papers that aren’t needed, like expired car registration or insurance documents, soda cans and water bottles.

4)  Sort – Go through the rest of the items and decide where they need to go, whether it is back in the car or into your house.

5)  Organize – Keep some fabric storage bins with handles in your trunk and on the backseat. They are inexpensive and can surprisingly hold a lot. Five bins should be enough; you don’t want to fill up your entire car with them.

  • In the trunk
    — Use one to stash snacks, like granola bars and crackers, for that on-the-go hunger.
    — Use one to hold car-cleaning supplies and a first-aid kit.
    — Use one to hold miscellaneous items that accumulate daily.
        Bring in this bin once a week and put the items where they belong.
  • In the backseat
    — Use one lined with a plastic grocery bag as a mini-trash bin.
    — Use one lined with a plastic grocery bag as a mini-recycling bin.
    — Also consider seat-back organizers if you have kids. This will allow them to keep their belongings together, like magazines, books and headphones. Going vertical is always a winner in any organizing scenario.

6)  Maintain – Whenever you stop for gas, pop out the trash bag and toss it. Save the recycling items to take home if you don’t see a recycling bin. Keep some additional plastic grocery bags folded flat on the bottom of each bin.

7)  Rejoice! – Look inside your newly cleaned car and get ready for those road trips. Then take a whiff. If it still stinks, quickly proceed to the nearest store and buy yourself an air freshener!

Happy travels wherever you are headed, near or far!

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Author: Darla PompilioConsignment General healthy living Recyling Shopping

Good Habits for Earth Day 

Earth Day - April 22Every time I enter a client’s home, I’m reminded of the sheer amount of stuff with which we surround ourselves. Does our stuff make our lives better or more difficult? And, what happens to all of the stuff we don’t want?

Most clients try to recycle as much as they can, but the truth is, much of what is donated ends up in the dump. Just this week, I was at a baby shower and the mother-to-be received so many gifts, she remarked they would need a storage unit. She wasn’t kidding.

April 22nd is Earth Day and a great opportunity to reflect on the world we would like to leave to our children and grandchildren. Take a look at the road sides as you drive around this month. Few places don’t have plastic bags blowing in the limbs of the trees and litter strewn about. While we need things to live, conduct business and improve our quality of life, do we want to leave a legacy of trash for the next generation?

Water bottles are a scourge on our earth and resources. According to Ban the Bottle, “Americans used about 50 billion plastic water bottles last year. However, the U.S.’s recycling rate for plastic is only 23 percent, which means 38 billion water bottles – more than $1 billion worth of plastic – are wasted each year.” The EPA estimates that 75% of the American waste stream is recyclable, but we only recycle about 30% of it and The Recycling Coalition of Utah states that “Americans represent 5% of the world’s population, but generate 30% of the world’s garbage.”

How can we stop burying ourselves and our loved ones in garbage? 

  • For starters, buy less. Do you really need that new (fill in the blank)?
  • Reuse what we have. Owning fewer items makes them easier to find and in turn, we are more likely to not have to re-purchase the same items.
  • Buy items that come in less packaging: less packaging means less waste.
  • Shop for pre-owned items and support local organizations like thrift stores.
  • Compost food scraps; vegetables/fruit peels and leftovers.
  • Donate what we no longer want, need or love. This extends the usable life of the items, allows someone else to enjoy them, and they stay out of land fills.
  • Re-use glass bottles/jars for water/food, in place of plastic bags or wrap.
  • Stop using plastic shopping bags. Get into the habit of using reusable shopping bags.

Happy Earth Day!

 

Author: Vali HeistClutter General healthy living Organizing Recyling Spiritual and Holistic

The Green Pope: A man after my own heart

PopeWhen I read this headline, I had to smile: The Green Pope: Francis is putting the full weight of the papacy behind efforts to curb climate change. Many Professional Organizers base their businesses on being ‘green,’ recycling, and simplifying the homes and lives their clients lead. After being glued to the television for the Pope’s entire visit to the United States (I was painting my bedroom at the same time), I couldn’t help but see a connection between this incredible man and some of the same ideals that relate to the environment and the business of professional organizing. After the Pope’s visit, I did some research, and two documents written by the Pope stood out.

The first document was published on June 18, 2015, when Pope Francis released the encyclical Laudato Si: On Care of Our Common Home. In this document the Pope calls on all nations and peoples to address urgent environmental concerns, including climate change. Francis reported that this encyclical was not really an environmental document; rather, it highlighted the developed world’s indifference to the destruction of the planet while pursuing short-term economic gains. The Pope states, “Never have we so hurt and mistreated our common home as we have in the last two hundred years.” Professional Organizers work with clients every day to set up home recycling centers, and the significance of that labor isn’t lost on us; we are helping our clients save the planet one household at a time.

The second document released by the Pope was The 15 Diseases of the Curia. The Curia Romana is the papal court, or the people who assist the Pope in the government and administration of the church. Pope Francis explains that these ‘diseases’ do not only concern the Curia “but are naturally a danger to every Christian, every curia, community, congregation, parish and ecclesiastic movement.” Number 13 on the list is the disease of Hoarding. In layman’s terms, a person tries to fill an existential void by accumulating materials goods, not out of need but only in order to feel secure and, as a result, burdens the soul. As a nation, we see this every day as shopping has become the national pastime, and anyone can accumulate goods 24/7 by using the internet and television. When people become overwhelmed with clutter and don’t know where to turn, very often it is the Professional Organizer who gets the call for help.

Finally, my hope is that no matter what our religious preference, we all take the words of Pope Francis to heart and be responsible stewards of our planet– our first home.

Clutter Quote: “Creation is not a property, which we can rule over at will; or, even less, is the property of only a few: Creation is a gift, it is a wonderful gift that God has given us, so that we care for it and we use it for the benefit of all, always with great respect and gratitude.” Pope Francis