Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Take Stock of What You Own

As anyone who's ever had a disorganized cabinet, closet, or home knows, one of the biggest frustrations is re-buying things you already own because you can't find them or didn't know they were there. And of course, over-buying is one of the least green things you can do! You end up with 10 sets of colored markers, 4 bottles of the same cleaning product, and countless holiday napkins - all of which are likely to get thrown away down the road.

As the holidays approach, we start thinking about parties, family gatherings, and gifts. This season, do yourself a huge favor and take stock of what you own before you hit the stores. Dig out your holiday supplies from wherever they may be hiding, consolidate them in one area, and sort like with like so you know what you have. You may discover you don't need to buy holiday cards, wrapping paper or lights for the next 10 years. And if you find you have way more than you need, now is the perfect time to donate such seasonal items to local charities or thrift stores. 

This principle should also apply to everything else in your home - not just holiday or seasonal items. At some point, you have to stop and take stock in order to break the cycle of over-buying. If you are overwhelmed and don't know where to start, take a look at the items that are used frequently in your house. For example, if your kids are into arts and crafts and you are buying duplicate supplies because what you have isn't organized or accessible, tackle this category first. Your pantry, cleaning supplies, or school supplies might be other smart places to start. I often say that organizing is like a puzzle, once you get even one piece in place, the rest becomes easier...little by little. 

Bottom Line: If you're buying things you already own out of disorganized desperation, take a little time to stop and take stock of what you have, starting with the priority areas for your family. You'll find things you've been looking for, stop over-buying what you've found so less is coming in, and gain some can-do momentum!

Photo Credit

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Creative Re-purposing

When we talk about green organizing, one of the biggest principles we follow is re-purposing items you already own. They might not be working in their current role, but often, just giving an old item a new role gives it new life and helps to solve your organizing needs without spending any money, acquiring anything new, or getting rid of something old.

Here are some examples of re-purposing I've used with clients recently:

1) Taking a shoe shelf that wasn't being used in the closet and putting it by the front door where shoes were sprawled all over the floor (an example of simply relocating an item to where it's more useful).

2) Using an empty tissue box to corral a drawer full of empty plastic bags to be re-used. This example also saves lots of space. If you re-use plastic bags, containing them is very important and a tissue box works wonders to contain lots of bags in a small space.

3) Using rolling mesh bins being underutilized in a toy room to contain balls and other sporting goods in the garage. The rolling feature made them much more useful in the garage where they can be rolled out on the driveway for easy play. Their larger size also made them more useful for larger items like balls and water toys, rather than small items in a toy room.

Real Simple likes this idea of re-purposing so much that they have a regular feature in the magazine, a web page, and even a new book dedicated to New Uses for Old Things. Check it out for some creative solutions to common household issues. Some of the ideas I find a bit far-fetched, but some of them are absolutely brilliant...in any case, there's no doubt they will get you thinking!

Bottom Line: Next time you're re-organizing a space, think creatively about what you already own. You just might find you have what you needed all along. And don't be afraid to use things unconventionally - if it works for you, that's all that matters! What examples of re-purposing have you used recently?

Friday, October 22, 2010

Feel-Good Footwork

If you've been working on your fall closet switch or any closet de-cluttering project, you've no doubt uncovered some shoes you're not wearing and could be better used for another purpose rather than collecting dust in your closet. Usually, I send my gently used shoes along with other clothing donations to a local thrift store or Goodwill. However, it turns out there are other outlets for your unused kicks.

One of my favorite blogs, Unclutterer.com, recently mentioned a program called Soles4Souls. This organization, created after the tsunami in 2004, collects gently used shoes and distributes them to people in need all over the world. According to their web site, we (Americans) discarded more than 300 million pairs of shoes last year alone. So consider a green outlet for your under-used shoes, such as Soles4Souls. They have collection sites and events all over the country, so check out what's available in your area.

You may also have some well-worn athletic shoes kicking around your closet that you're wondering what to do with. The good news is, thanks to Nike's ReUse A Shoe program, they don't have to end up in the landfill either. This program accepts all brands of athletic shoes in any condition and re-purposes all parts of the shoes into material for athletic fields and courts...pretty cool! I was reminded of this program by an announcement for a community recycling event. The program routinely collects shoes at local events, but you can also check their web site for a drop-off location near you.

Bottom Line: Next time you uncover shoes that have been taking up space at the bottom of your closet, consider do-good donation options - it will leave you (and your closet) feeling good!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

What to Do With Your Untapped Crafty Inspirations

When it comes to decluttering your home, one category of items that often comes up is craft supplies that fall into the category of “seemed like a good idea at the time.” We all have projects we wanted to get to in an ideal world, but just don’t seem to get done. When you uncover unfinished projects and dormant hobbies as you clear your clutter, make a list and decide which ones actually fit into your current lifestyle. For each item on the list, either give yourself a short-term deadline to take action or cut yourself some slack and remove it from your list. Most people feel a huge sense of relief when they decide to take some projects and even fun hobbies off their mental to-list and clear the gear and supplies from their home.

When it comes to crafting, projects often come with piles and bins of creative supplies. For creative-types who had a vision for the ribbons, fabric, buttons and egg cartons, it can be hard to let these go into the dumpster. Re-Nest wrote a great post with five possible outlets for your excess crafting supplies. If you decide it’s time to part with supplies that are collecting dust rather than serving as your creative outlet, check out these options in your community. Some of the same programs may also want gear and equipment for your past or theoretical hobbies.

Bottom Line: Do yourself a favor by reclaiming space in your home and life for the activities that matter most to you now, while giving others in your community a chance to enjoy your unused crafty inspirations!

Photo Credit

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Home Improvement You Can Feel Good About

If you have home improvement projects on your fall agenda, Habitat for Humanity’s Re-Stores may be a great resource to help you stay green and save some green! Re-Stores sell usable and surplus building materials to the public at a fraction of the retail price. This may include fixtures, appliances, building materials and even furniture.

On the other end of the equation, Re-Stores also accept donations of new or gently used items that can be re-sold to others. The proceeds help local Habitat affiliates build homes in their community.

Bottom line: For home improvement you can feel good about, check out the web site for local Re-Stores near you.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Refresh Your Nest with Re-Nest

While checking my e-mail today, I was introduced to an on-line resource for green design and living that I wanted to share - www.Re-Nest.com. Re-Nest is part of the Apartment Therapy family - I receive daily e-mails from Apartment Therapy and absolutely love to click through the daily House Tour photos - one of my favorite daily indulgences. I can’t believe I’d previously ignored Re-Nest...until now.

This simple site contains posts on a variety of useful and/or entertaining topics. I especially enjoyed 13 Products That Are Unnecessary and Wasteful. Looking at lists like this helps keep your shopping filter sharp and focused - do I really need this or do I already have something that can do that job...or does the ‘job’ even need to be done? This doesn’t mean these items don’t serve the purpose their makers intend them to, but most of us are better off adopting a ‘less is more’ philosophy when it comes to our homes.

The Re-Nest House Tours can also give you some great ideas to refresh home with furniture and other household items you already own. As we all know, not buying new stuff is one of the best ways to conserve resources.

Bottom Line: I hope you enjoy this site as much as I am. I just added it to my Google Reader so I can get a regular dose of great green ideas!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Lunch-to-Go: Green Style!

With the beginning of school upon us, now is a great time to think about how to go green with your family’s lunch routine. For kids and adults, taking lunch from home is a great way to save money and can also make it easier to stick to a healthy routine. Lunch from home can also easily be a green way to eat, especially when compared to day after day of take-out in disposable containers. Here are some great products to help you and your family reduce lunch-time waste.

One of my favorite discoveries are Lunch Skins made by 3 Green Moms. These super-cute, food-safe and dishwasher-safe snack and sandwich bags in various sizes and patterns completely eliminate the need for plastic baggies or aluminum foil in the lunch bag.

And speaking of lunch bags, while kids have always had a variety of lunch bag and box options, adults now have super-sleek and easy to-go options, such as BUILT’s line of lunch totes. These neoprene totes zip close and help insulate foods and can be thrown in the washing machine to keep them clean. No more brown bag lunches!

A great set of reusable food storage containers, such as Rubbermaid’s Easy Find Lids line can help round out your green lunch routine. You can also pick up some biodegradable, reusable cutlery and of course quench your thirst with reusable BPA-free water bottles, such as the WaterWeek bottles we highlighted in July.

Bottom Line: Do lunch-from-home in green style with great reusable products the whole family will love!

Photo Source: www.lunchskins.com