Each April, annual Earth Day events encourage us to do our part to be better stewards of our planet. Making “greener” choices is not only the right thing to do, it’s now easier than ever to be eco-friendly and live an environmentally conscious lifestyle. Here are some easy ways to adopt some green-living habits to Reduce, Reuse and Recycle while you stay eco-organized.
Reduce Your Paper Waste
Junk mail and catalogs are major clutter creators in a home and can quickly become overwhelming. They are also a huge waste of paper. You can help reduce paper waste and put a stop to your paper clutter by going paperless for statements and bills, and by proactively stopping unwanted mail.
If you are tired of getting unsolicited mail, there are free tools at your disposal to make that happen. Try the Paper Karma App to stop unwanted mail from clogging up your mailbox. Just snap a photo of junk mail you want to stop receiving and they contact the mailer to remove you from their lists. The other free tool I recommend is the Credit Card Opt Out service to get your name removed from credit card offer lists. You can opt-out for five years or permanently, and if you ever change your mind and want to start receiving offers again, you can opt back in.
Reduce Your Plastic Bottle Waste
According to the statistics, Americans use about 50 million plastic water bottles a year, and only a quarter of those bottles are recycled. Yikes, right? It’s time to banish the plastic water bottle in exchange for a greener, less wasteful option!
Instead of the plastic bottle, choose a refillable glass bottle like the Lifefactory Glass Bottle and take it along with you each day. This is one of my favorite bottles because I look for bottles that have a wide mouth for easy cleaning. A leak-proof bottle is also a must for me, as my bottle goes into my purse or workbag and, really, who’s got time for accidents? There are tons to choose from these days, so get yourself a bottle today and end the plastic water bottle dependency.
Re-use it. Don’t toss it!
As part of my organizing service, when possible, I try to reuse what my clients already own and have around the house before purchasing new items to organize. Items such as shoeboxes, cereal boxes, glass jars, and cans can easily be converted to organizing containers, drawer dividers and supply caddies. Get creative and cover a box with some pretty paper for a cute and functional organizer. Even an empty toilet paper roll can make a great little gift box! Reusing and repurposing items to organize is a great way to be Green and save money. Click below to see some fun and simple ideas for re-using and up-cycling on my “Re-Use It” Pinterest board.
Here in San Francisco, where I’m based, we have a robust recycling program through SF Recology that helps us keep things out of the landfill and supports our efforts to be Green. I recently discovered how easy it is to responsibly recycle household hazardous waste materials like old paint, batteries, cleaning solutions and aerosol cans. It’s an errand worth running, and a quick trip to the SF Dump does not take much time. In fact, it was one of the most efficient processes around, and only took 2 minutes! I pulled up to the Hazardous Waste Facility, showed them my ID and they took care of the rest. If you have household hazardous waste items adding clutter in your garage, under your sink or in your storage shed, do your part to get rid of it safely. Here’s a list of the materials SF Recology will accept, their hours, and their location. You can also request a free home pick up, so really, there’s no excuse!
Ever wonder if you’re recycling right? If you have an item you need to get rid of, but just not sure if it’s garbage, recycling or compost, type in the item in question on WhatBin.com for answers and other resources. Most municipalities offer information and recycling services, so check out the guidelines in your town and recycle responsibly.
The ultimate green living habit is composting. Composting can sometimes be gross, I get it. If you tend to skip composting due to its smelly and icky aspects, I have a favorite product to share that may change your mind. I know it’s a strange thing to love, but I LOVE using my eco-friendly composter bin, the Sure-Close Kitchen Composter.
I’ve gone through a couple of composting bins in my time, but this one has won my favor because of its hinged lid, which makes for easy scraping of food into the bin, and its size. It’s small enough to fit under the sink, keeping my counters clutter-free, yet has the capacity to handle a large amount of food scraps. It snaps closed and has a seal under the lid so no smell, and it is easy to clean. No smell + no sticky gross lids to hold open make this little bin a star in my composing efforts!
Everyday can be Earth Day if you make small, but important, choices to Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. Hope you’re inspired to add a new eco-friendly habit to help you live Green and stay eco-organized. Happy Earth Day!
February 8th marked the Chinese Lunar New Year and the year of the Monkey. One of the great traditions of Chinese New Year is to clean the house as a way to sweep out the “old” in order to usher in the new. It’s a time for fresh beginnings, so if you didn’t start January 2016 off as you intended, now’s your chance to clear your clutter and put into practice some Feng Shui basic principles to harmonize your home.
The ancient Chinese art of Feng Shui (Wind- Water) helps create environments that are balanced and harmonious by improving Chi or Energy flow throughout the home. As a home organizer and space planner, I apply some basic principles of Feng Shui of placement, light, color and flow to design living spaces for my clients that are purposeful, organized and inviting. By following some of the more simple laws of Feng Shui, you can create a home that allows for maximum positive Chi and joy.
Clear The Clutter
While there’s much complexity to the art and practice of Feng Shui, experts and practitioners all agree that a first and very important step to getting started on a path of improved harmony of your living spaces is to remove clutter. In Feng Shui, clutter serves as an obstacle to balance and a blocker of good energy. The sooner you get rid of it, the sooner your home spaces can thrive.
For many, dealing with clutter is easier said than done, but if you want more Good Fortune and Peace of Mind, then make room for it! Start with any room, drawer or closet in your house that feels stifling and begin clearing out clutter. Set aside some time and find the inner strength to make decisions to get rid of what you don’t need, use or love. If it’s in good shape, donate it or pass it on to a friend. If something is in disrepair or broken, throw it away. You may find that by letting go, new and better things will find their way to you.
Some common areas where clutter amasses and are easy to ignore are “junk” drawers filled with random keys, home hardware bits and pieces, and other odds and ends. This is a good place to start. For clearing this clutter, remember: if it doesn’t serve a purpose, lose it. Next, go through your medicine cabinet and safely toss out expired medication and beauty products you no longer use.
If you want to feel more productive while you work, clear the paper clutter on your desk, followed by a purge of computer files you no longer reference. By de-cluttering your desk and computer files, you will instantly feel lightness and improved concentration.
Improve Energy & Flow For A Happy Home
If a room in your home is feeling stuffy or stuck, the first order of business is to declutter. Once you’ve removed any non-essentials, look at ways to rearrange furnishings so that your rooms are welcoming and have an ease of flow. Make them beautiful by adding pieces of art, good lighting and just the right amount of accessories.
Bedrooms are a sacred space for rest and should be a clutter-free zone in your home. Activate restful sleep and improve flow by removing energy blockers such as under-the-bed storage. For better harmony, make sure that your bed is accessible from both sides. Symmetry is important, too, so place nightstands and lamps on both sides of a bed. Balance is the name of the game here.
Are you a shoes off household? Make sure you don’t let them pile up by the door, as this blocks energy and good fortune from entering your home. If you don’t have a closet where you can put a shoe rack, use a shoe cabinet like this one from Ikea to keep shoes hidden and tidy, and yet still close to your entryway.
Easy Feng Shui Principles To Try Today
In this year of the Monkey, commit to clearing your clutter in order to transform and improve the energy of your physical spaces. By applying these Feng Shui basics, your home will feel lighter, happier and more harmonious.
It’s almost time to head back to school, and the question I get asked most often by families with school-aged children is: what to do with the high volume of school papers that come home in backpacks? Between the arts and crafts projects, the permission slips and the homework folders, kid’s school papers can overwhelm a space quickly and add clutter.
If schoolwork and artwork have the tendency to overtake your family’s living spaces or get lost in the shuffle, this school year, follow these get-organized tips for sorting, displaying and storing your children’s papers.
1) SORT. Set your kids up for success by establishing a clear spot for their school papers and backpacks to land as they arrive home from school. Create a family command center in your home’s entryway, in a closet, or, like in the photo below, along a wall near the kitchen. Install hooks at a kid-friendly height for backpacks, or use bins or baskets on the floor to corral bags, and teach them to empty their school bags right away. Depending on your set up, use paper trays, wall-mounted document holders or storage bins (ditch the lids) to create “homes” for homework folders, notices from school for parental review, and artwork. Older kids may be able to do the sorting independently, but for the little ones, do it with them and you’ll be teaching them the life-long skill of organization.
2) SHOWCASE. The days of cluttering the fridge with artwork are over. Instead, create a “wall of fame” and hang your kid’s art on a wall, a door or a window. Pro tip: make it easy to update and maintain! Implement a simple string and clip solution, like in the photo below, or install the sturdy and popular Ikea Dignitet stainless wire and clip system, which allows for maximum flexibility since kid art isn’t always one size. Or, create a gallery wall by making “frames” made with colorful masking or Washi tape, or by hanging Li’l Davinci Kid’s Art Frames, which open from the front and are super easy update. Most importantly, to minimize the potential for clutter, curate the collection and rotate art often so that your kids see their latest and greatest works on display. My next tips cover how to keep what’s most meaningful, and how to use tech to snapshot then toss the rest.
3) KEEP. Store your kids’ mementos, artwork and important schoolwork in acid-free bins or file boxes. Of course, not everything your child creates or brings home from school is a masterpiece or super special, but for the items that are precious to you, keep the memento bin or box handy and commit to adding to it on a regular basis. Each child should have their own memento bin(s), and if they didn’t already do this, write their name and date on the back for posterity’s sake. By adopting this habit, you can rest assured that you’re keeping your kiddos’ papers wrinkle-free and safe, and you cut down on the paper piles and clutter.
4) DIGITIZE. For the items that don’t make into the memento box, use a free or low-cost App to snap photos of your kid’s art and then… Let It Go. Kid’s Artwork Apps like Artkive, Keepy and Canvsly make it easy to store, organize, edit and share with family. Apps are especially helpful for memorializing those oversized or 3-D pieces that don’t fit into memento boxes easily. A nice idea is to publish your kid’s art into cool, bound art books that can sit out on the coffee table and that they can keep forever. Bottom line: if you want to release some guilt about tossing artwork and papers, these Apps can help!
I hope these four tips help you with your back to school organization and preparation. For my product picks and more photo inspirations check out my Pinterest Board: Back to School_Organizing School Papers and follow me on Pinterest. Here’s to a happy and organized school year ahead!
Good company, great food and reflecting on all that there is to be grateful for. This is why I love Thanksgiving. But hosting Thanksgiving dinner can also mean stress, chaos and a long list of to-dos!
Well, that’s no fun and that is precisely why, if you’re hosting this year and if you’re feeling overwhelmed or stressed, you should take a deep breath and follow these 3 tips:
1. Share the load. Sometimes it takes a village. Most guests are cognizant of how much time and effort goes into putting on a Thanksgiving feast and are more than happy to contribute and help out. So let them! Do you have a guest that’s an amazing baker? Great! Let them bring their favorite dessert. Is there a wine aficionado in the family? Lovely. Guess who’s in charge of selecting the wines? Decorations can be delegated to the crafty DIYer in the gang. And so forth. Letting your guests contribute what they are good at is a wonderful way to lessen your hosting to-dos all while giving them the chance to shine and display their talents. And for those with no stand-out talent? Every party needs ice, right?
2. Do what you can ahead of time. Beyond the menu planning and the shopping, tackling some small tasks in the day or two before Thanksgiving can set you up for success. Now’s the time to clean out and organize your refrigerator to make room for all the goodies and leftovers that will surely fill your fridge. Go ahead and set the table the night before and pull out all the serving dishes and utensils that you’ll be using so that you know what goes where when the meal is ready to be served. On the day of, keep on top of dishes and make sure the dishwasher is empty and ready to load at the end of dinner. If you are serving coffee at dessert time, earlier in the day set it all up and set your auto brew for dessert hour. Voilà! One more thing scratched off your to-do list.
3. Avoid kitchen bottleneck. You know how it goes…at most parties people end up in the kitchen. If you want to keep your guests safely away from the turkey work zone right before dinner, set up a drink station in another part of the house, like in the living room or dining room. Gather up the goods, like an ice bucket, scooper, glassware, beverages, wine and wine opener and let your guests play bartender and serve themselves. After the meal, create a drop zone on the counter where helpers can stack dirty dishes or have them load directly into empty dishwasher (see tip #2), but discourage the guests from congregating in the kitchen for too long, and give them something to do, like play a game. I’m all for letting 1 or 2 guests help out with dish duty, but you know what they say about too many cooks in the kitchen.
Happy Thanksgiving and happy hosting! Read more tips for getting your home ready for company on Thanksgiving here.
Thankfully, finding ways to be Eco-friendly while organizing has never been easier. And while there are lots of organizing products out there that are made from environmentally friendly and sustainable materials, such as bamboo and natural fibers like cottons and linens, I’m going to skip the product picks for this post and save that for another time. Instead, I’d like to share some easy tips for applying the motto of Reduce, Reuse and Recycle into your organizing efforts.
Bringing less “stuff” into your home will have a positive impact on your spaces and how they feel and function, and will help you in your quest to cut the clutter and get and remain organized. If you’re sick of the paper clutter than enters your home thanks to the onslaught of junk mail, catalogs, credit card offers, and useless coupons then OPT OUT!
Be proactive and reduce clutter by putting an end to unwanted mail. These websites help consumers get their names off of marketers’ lists:
Another simple way to do your part to save trees and reduce the paper clutter is to go digital. If you haven’t already done so, consider going paperless for all your banking and bill paying needs. The advantages are huge! No more documents to manage, to file and to hog up precious storage space in your file cabinets. If you must keep copies for your records, make a habit of downloading statements into folders on your computing system and using a naming convention that will make them easy for you to find later.
Get creative and repurpose what you already own! So much of what we use in our everyday lives can be upgraded to a clever organizing product with very little effort. If you have access to shoeboxes, tin cans and jars, then you can fashion cute and handy containers for office supplies and other knick-knacks. If you need inspiration, check out what others have done by searching for DIY organizing ideas on Pinterest or in any search engine.
We all bring home so much packaging that can easily up up-cycled into something useful. I’m always impressed with the fresh and surprising ideas that Real Simple puts in their New Uses for Old Things website. One idea of theirs that I love is to use an old Kleenex box to keep plastic bags in one easy-to-access, tidy spot. Simple, but effective! My desktop pen/ruler/scissor/stapler holder, is a re-purposed KOBO candle package. The packaging was too pretty to toss, so I found a way to make good use of it! Next time you buy an Apple iPhone or similar, don’t toss the box! The sturdy boxes that phones come in make great drawer organizers.
Recycling isn’t just for paper, plastic and glass! You can give your old stuff new life by “recycling” it and donating to worthy organizations. If there’s a cause that speaks to you, find out if opportunities to donate goods exist. If you’re stumped by where to donate your used goodies, charities such as the Goodwill, Dress for Success, Soles4Souls, and The Salvation Army have wonderful programs in place and are easy to find in most big cities.
If your used stuff is too junky to pass on to others, then discard of it responsibly. I often find that people hang on to stuff that’s broken because they don’t know what else to do with it. It ends up as clutter, and who wants that?
There are great resources available like Earth 911 for finding the proper way to dispose of batteries, electronics, cords and cables, tires, paints, and pretty much anything you can think of. There’s also TerraCycle, which has programs for recycling waste from hard-to-recycle packaging. In San Francisco check out the local recycling program for info on free or low-cost removal of unwanted items.
So, go Green and Reduce, Reuse and Recycle while on your path to getting organized.
With Valentine’s Day approaching, I’m feeling inspired to proclaim my crush on some favorite products of mine. These items are things I use to help keep my Life Well Organized. And it wouldn’t be a Valentine’s-themed post unless we saw them in the hues of red, pink and white, right?
1. The Desktop File. This file box by Semikolon (available in a multitude of colors) helps keep my desk clutter-free, all while keeping my files easy to access. It’s a great way to organize things in a stylish way. Who says office accessories can’t be pretty?
2. The Folding Stepstool. This little stool is great because it folds up and takes very little space. It’s lightweight, yet can hold up to 300 lbs, and it has a handle, making it super easy to tote from room to room. Since I lack stature (I’m 5’3” on a good day) I rely on this stool a lot. As an urban apartment dweller with limited storage space, I use every inch of my apartment and that means going vertical with high shelves. When it’s time to reach up and grab what I need, this little stool saves the day!
3. Bins. Staying organized is made easier with the right bins and containers, and for me, the Ikea Rationell Variera box is the perfect tool for corralling like items and storing them on shelves and in drawers. It’s made from sturdy recycled plastic, has handles and comes in two sizes and in two colors (white and red). You can’t beat the price on this sleek looking bin…$5.99 sm and $6.99 lg. You can find these bins in the kitchen wares section of Ikea’s Marketplace.
4. The Reusable Bag. Yes, it’s a chic and Eco way to tote things from here to there, but what makes the Flip and Tumble Bag a favorite of mine is that it balls up and makes it a snap to put into my purse so that I have it handy when I need it, which happens to be every day. A bonus to using reusable bags means no more unwanted and unneeded plastic or paper grocery bags in my home. Less clutter is always nice, but so is doing my part to create less waste.
5. The Lacquered Tray. When you’re not using your lacquered tray to serve from, it can be used as a neat way to keep your collections together. On a dresser, you can use a tray like this to keep your jewelry or perfume nice and tidy. On a desk, put your office supplies on the tray and have things within arms reach! A tip: add pretty paper to the bottom of the tray to give it a more decorative touch.
Tired of going from room to room looking for the wrapping paper, ribbon, tape, gift tags, and scissors? Life Well Organized says stop the madness! Save your time and sanity this holiday season by compiling all your wrapping supplies and keeping them organized and handy so that you can have more time to celebrate good tidings and cheer!
And while the idea of having an entire room dedicated to crafting and wrapping gifts is very cool (see photo above via Country Living), alas, urban dwelling limits things quite a bit. So, let’s keep it real here and go over some options that even the smallest San Francisco apartment can handle. Here are some gift-wrapping organizing products that will make wrapping gifts a delight and not a chore.
Short on Space and Cash?
These low-cost options from retailers like Target, Bed Bath and Beyond and The Container Store keep your supplies neatly organized and easily accessible. Better yet, when not in use, you can store these under a bed, in the corner of a closet, or hang from a closet rod. The Real Simple gift wrap and ribbon organizers even collapse flat when empty!
Have the Space and the Cash?
If you’re looking to invest in a gift wrap organizing system, here are some options you’ll love! If you have wall space that’s begging to be utilized, Pottery Barn offers this sleek wall-mounted organizer that will make gift-wrapping a pleasure all year long. Looking for something stylish and mobile? Ballard Designs’ gift wrap caddy makes it easy to set up your gift wrapping station anywhere in the house. And, as Cam from Modern Family knows, the Elfa Gift Wrap Cart, available at The Container Store, is the Cadillac of all gift wrapping stations. The Elfa Gift Wrap cart contains all your supplies ever so neatly, and provides easy mobility. Check out Cam and his Elfa Gift Wrap Cart in the video below!
You’ve invited the guests. You’ve planned the menu. Hosting Thanksgiving dinner at your place this year will be great! Here are some ideas to help keep the coat clutter and the clean up time to a minimum leaving more time to be thankful.
For when guests arrive…
A coat rack that is too full is an eyesore, and no one wants to dig under other coats on a bed to get to their things, so plan ahead and use a system that allows for guests to hang their coats on hangers. If you’re short on space in the entry way closet, an over-the-door valet is a great way to create space to hang coats.
Having a larger party? A collapsible garment rack can handle many coats. This one is sturdy (it won’t tip over due to weight of coats) and once you’re done using it, it collapses and tucks away until your next party. Don’t forget to have extra hangers on hand.
If it’s raining, you’ll want a spot for those wet umbrellas. Styles range from traditional to FUNctional, but bottom line: placing an umbrella stand near the door will keep things tidy and dry.
After the meal…
Many find that the most stressful part of hosting Thanksgiving is the post-meal clean up. Take your guests up on their offers to help clean and make it easier for them by doing a little preparation. For leftovers, have some inexpensive plastic or cardboard storage containers ready so that guests can make their own to-go selections.
If your bins are under the sink, take them out of hiding and place them in the kitchen where it’s easiest to access. Label each bin “recycle,” “compost” and “trash” so that your helpers know what goes where.
Lastly, when it’s time to wrap things up, have a collection of kitchen wrapping supplies handy. Place plastic wrap, aluminum foil, wax paper and plastic baggies in a container near where your helping hands will be. No need to keep going into the drawer for these items!
Once the food’s put away and the kitchen is clean, it’s time to relax and give thanks that it’s over. Until next year, that is!