Tag Archives: green

Too Easy to Buy, Too Hard to Let Go

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“Getting stuff” can be fun and easy…it’s the “letting go” that can be challenging

We Americans have too much stuff.

This is our observation gleaned from decades spent immersed in the home organizing industry and working with people in their homes. Why is this?

Stuff is cheap. It’s easy to come by things relatively cheaply. Big box stores such as IKEA, Target, WalMart, and Costco always have great deals on household goods and furniture…not to mention the ease of buying with Amazon. The advent of online shopping means goods arrive at our door with one click. Even getting used things is easier than ever with sites such as Craigslist, eBay, Freecycle, MoveLoot and NextDoor.

New things are fun! Our media and culture promote the excitement and promise of re-decorating, having the latest fashions and gadgets. We have acclimated to the idea of rapid change and stimulation. These forces help drive us to think of everyday goods and furniture as almost disposable instead of intended to last for years.

Smaller families mean gifts abound – we see this so often with kids’ toys. With smaller families there are more adults to dote on the kids. Gone are the days where a child gets a few things from their parents and maybe the grandparents. Now we have aunts, uncles, friends and neighbors with few or no kids who want to get in on the fun. It all adds up to too much.

Environmentalism. Even our desire to be green adds to the problem. We are lured into buying things that are cheap…Wow! A couch from IKEA for $119? What a deal! But when that couch gives way or wears out we feel bad for wanting to trash it…sometimes we hold onto broken or worn things, trying not to waste them by sending them to the landfill. But then our garage turns into a trash receptacle.

What to do about it?

Curtail the shopping. Make a game out of shopping at Costco and only buying 5 things you really need. Begin with the end in mind and – before you buy – imagine what you’ll do with the item when it wears out or you’ve outgrown it.

Request non-tangible or consumable gifts from extended family and give those yourself. Providing savings bonds, promises of outings, shows or more elaborate vacations…even contributions to a car fund…can provide long-term satisfaction to both the giver and the receiver.

Think “Environment” before you buy. Buy for quality and endurance. Will that item be valued by your children when they’re ready to start their own families? Will there be a market for this item in the future?

Abundance is a process of letting go; that which is empty can receive.” – Bryant H. McGill

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Filed under Decluttering, General Organizing, Holidays, Perspective, Reduce/Recyle/Reuse, Strategies

Green De-Cluttering

There are lots of resources for turning trash to treasures!

There are lots of resources for turning trash to treasures!

Do you want to declutter, but dread adding to the waste stream?  It’s easy to be green when you are organizing.  Organizing is all about recycling and reuse.

You’re working on an organizing project and you’re accumulating a pile of items that you no longer want or need.  In can be discouraging to end up with a pile of things that aren’t easy to dispose of…that pile tends to sit around until you “figure out” what to do with them.

The short-term solution for some people is just to put everything you don’t want in the trash.  We must admit, sometimes that option is very enticing.  But with heightened consciousness about the waste stream, just dumping stuff you don’t want can be irresponsible.

Here are types of things you may find in your discard pile and ideas of how to get rid of them responsibly:

  • Sensitive information to shred (paper or discs) – do you have a local shredding company where you can bring this to shred?  Mobile shredding services are available to come to you in some areas. Office supply stores sometimes offer this service.
  • Scrap metal – broken garden tools, miscellaneous metal parts. Most recycling centers have bins for these items.
  • Clothing and fabric scraps – most charities take usable clothing, but clothes that are stained, torn or unusable can still be recycled.  Goodwill Industries takes worn out clothes, sheets and fabric scraps and repurposes them.
  • Plastic stuff – broken toys, buckets or pieces of household equipment don’t need to be put in the landfill.  Many recycling centers take different kinds or plastic for proper disposal or repurposing.
  • Paint, chemicals – these hazardous wastes need special care.  Most counties have facilities for disposing of them.
  • Building materials – many larger cities have re-use stores run by Habitat for Humanity or similar organizations.
  • Food – unopened, unexpired food can be taken to a local food bank.
  • Liquor – word has it that the Lyons or Elks clubs accept unopened liquor bottles and use it for raffle prizes. Check for a lodge in your area.
  • Styrofoam – another item that makes me cringe when I think of putting it in the landfill. Styrofoam is another item that some recycling centers accept.  Making it less onerous to dispose of oversized electronic packaging.
  • Packing peanuts – UPS and other shipping stores will take these
  • Oversize trash  – Junk haulers will pick up for a fee. There are national franchises and local operators; use Yelp to find a good one.
  • E-waste – most cities have electronics recycling centers. Be on the lookout for special e-waste recycling events put on by local organizations.
  • Stuff to sell or donate.  Here is a list of options for getting money (or not) for the things you don’t want.
    • Donate to CharityDonationTown.org will identify charities that will pick up in your neighborhood
    • ebay Trading Assistants – have a special relationship with eBay and can handle many different kinds of items to resell for you.  Generally they take 30 to 50% of the selling price of your item for their service
    • Estate Liquidators
    • Online Community Forums – your neighborhood group, Freecycle.org, Craigslist.org
    • Auction houses
    • Host a Garage Sale – do it on your own or enlist your neighbors to join in

If all this sounds too complicated, that’s where a Professional Organizer can help you out.  Their job is to find ways to re-purpose, recycle or dispose of the many things that clients are done with. Professional Organizers often interface with all the above to help you expedite removal of unwanted stuff. Working with an organizer can help you feel good about your organizing and de-cluttering project from start to finish!

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Filed under General Organizing, Reduce/Recyle/Reuse, Strategies