How To Get Organized – A Zero Waste Friendly Version.

An organized corner of my cabin.

An organized corner of my cabin.

When I read articles on getting organized, I’m frustrated that they advocate the throwing away of items and don’t emphasize recycling, reuse, and my favorite – selling. So I’ve decided to write my own ‘get organized’ how-to article. Enjoy.

Start by choosing the space you want to organize. A space can be as big as an entire room or as small as your desk.  If you hate organizing, do one space a day. Don’t burn out by trying to do everything at once.

Make FOUR piles. I like using trash bags or laundry baskets to sort the piles.

  1. The ‘doesn’t belong here’ pile. Anything in the space that needs to be in another space goes in this pile. You will be tempted to move things as you find them – don’t. Wait until you are organizing the space it belongs in to put it where it belongs.
  2. Donate pile. Anything you don’t want that can’t be easily sold, put in this pile. This pile also includes items you want to give away to specific people
  3. Yard Sale pile. In this pile, put items you think can be sold in a yard sale, at the pawn shop, or some other way, like on craigslist or Facebook.
  4. Recycle pile. If it’s paper, plastic, glass, metal, tin, cardboard – it can be recycled.

There is NO throw away pile unless the item absolutely cannot be composted, recycled, donated, sold, or given away. If the item does not fall into any of these categories, then you can throw it away.

There is also no ‘what if’ pile. If you have to hold an item and think about it, it needs to go. If the item is sentimental and not important enough to have on display, find a home for it. Otherwise, it does not belong in your home.

DO NOT think you need to create more storage space by buying things. This is wrong. Before you think about creating more storage within your home, you need to go through the process of organizing every space. Then, once you’re finished, you can evaluate what kind of storage you need and how to implement it. Beware of buying new containers – they can encourage you to buy more, waste more, and create more clutter.

There should be no junk drawers in your home– just drawers for miscellaneous items you use occasionally. If you have ‘junk’ because ‘maybe’ you ‘need’ it, suck it up and put it in a pile.

Bonus! Organizing your car:

Immediately put the items you need to donate and sell in your car. Any coupons you have should always be kept in your car as well. You need some sort of open container to keep in the trunk or backseat to house these items. Trash accumulates in a car very easily. Bring a bottle with you for water and coffee, refuse plastic and paper, and recycle anything that comes into your car instead of carelessly throwing it in the trash. Remember: when you throw something away, where you do think away is?

Happy organizing!

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