January is GO Month! Getting organized does not have to cost a lot of money. It’s not only possible to get organized on a budget, but it can be environmentally sound as well. Use “reduce, reuse and recycle” as your guiding phrase.
Reduce what you own to items that really make a difference in your life. Keep items that are actually being used and are things that you truly love. Everyone has at least a few things in his home that aren’t as useful as he had hoped they would be. You know - the things that were purchased with the idea that they might come in handy someday, the items that seemed like they were a good idea at the time, the disliked gifts, and the impulsive purchases.
Unfortunately, holding on to these things will not bring back your money. Nor will holding on to a disliked gift help your relationship with the person who gave you the gift. These items are “squatters” – they sit in your home without being useful and they require your time and attention to store and maintain them. Even worse, they hit you with a wave of guilt every time you see them. You can do with a little less guilt and clutter in your life. Send those “squatters” to the thrift shop – it’s an easy way to recycle them. Send broken and outdated electronics to an electronic recycler (a quick internet or phone book search will locate them). Reducing your inventory to things that make your life productive and pleasurable will reduce the time and money you spend on keeping things organized.
Reuse items by giving them a new purpose. A little out-of-the-box thinking and that old dresser becomes a gift-wrapping center or a place to store linens, a small cabinet becomes a nightstand, and checkbook and gift boxes become drawer organizers. I’ve seen old serving trays turned into mail in boxes, cereal boxes turned into magazine organizers, ice cube trays turned into jewelry organizers, and small jars used to organize the necessary small stuff of life – from paper clips to cotton swabs. A little paint, fabric remnants or decorative paper help repurposed items conform to a color scheme. By the way, a uniform color scheme reduces the amount of visual clutter. It’s an amazing trick – try it!
Recycle things. Look for sturdy shelves and file cabinets at thrift and second-hand stores. You want file cabinets with fully extending drawers – drawers that only open to the ¾ point are irritating every time you need to pull something from the rear of the drawer. Add a hanging file frame to each drawer if there isn’t already one. Hanging file frames are about $20 from any office supply store. Hanging files are so much easier to use than folders for keeping your paperwork organized and easily accessible. A little paint and these used finds look new.
Bookcases are useful for so much more than books. To maximize your space, think “vertical.” With labeled baskets in a bookcase you can to corral small stuff. Put a tall bookcase in a kitchen to store small appliances, serving dishes and trays, pantry items, and even cookbooks! Use inexpensive pegboard to store pots, pans and cooking utensils on the wall. Julia Child did.
When it comes to reusing items, be careful of “someday” thinking. Acquiring or holding on to things for which you don’t have a designated purpose, adds to the clutter collection. Also, if the new purpose will not be beneficial to your life, the transformation is not worth your time or resources. Have a plan for when and how things will be transformed into the useful times you envision. The last thing anyone needs is a collection of projects to do that is languishing in storage.
Focus on keeping things useful and relevant to your life. Then reduce, reuse and recycle. You’ll save some green by being green this GO month.