by Environmentally Conscious Organizers Collaborative
Earth Day has been celebrated since the 1970’s as an environment based awareness building movement. The Earth Day founder Gaylord Nelson, then a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin, was later awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom (1995) -- the highest honor given to civilians in the United States -- for his role as Earth Day founder. The first Earth Day led to the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Acts. http://www.earthday.org/earth-day-history-movement
Organizing has a very natural connection to an ethic of conscious consuming. Some organizers believe that it is our responsibility to help our clients live more environmentally conscious lives.
One natural result of getting organized is the need to consume less because we know where to find those items already in our space. Thus, we can break the chain of purchasing more of what we already have. This is the very beginning of making conscious consuming choices in our lives.
Organizing is an exercise of reduction; increased efficiency and having the “right” things in your life to support you where you want to go. Below are a number of organizing “tiplets” anyone can implement that when combined with other people’s efforts can positively impact our world and our environment.
Reduce – Reuse – Recycle: Aim to reduce first, reuse second, and recycle third. Too often, people think recycling is the first step. Whenever you are “consuming” consider what you can limit; what you can reuse instead of purchasing and if you do consume, consider the last step of a products life in how it will be recycled. ALWAYS review “use” in the order of REDUCING first then Reuse and the Recycle. The more that can be accomplished in the reduce phase, the less there is to deal with in the other phases.
Create a landing pad in the house: By placing items where you won’t forget them, you have the opportunity to use your transportation more effectively – you won't be doing multiple trips out because you forgot the donations or items that needed to be returned. Also, it will be easier to combine your errands.
Some possible landing pad collection bins and supplies to facilitate recycling and donation could include:
Conserve Energy: This is as simple as making sure heat registers are not blocked and doors are able to be closed. This is only possible if there is not extraneous stuff in the way. Other simple steps can include:
Reduce Paper Usage: Think digital not physical/paper as much as possible. Do you really need to print that email out? Can you deal with that bill electronically?
Reduce Paper coming into the house:
Reuse Paper: If you have paper that you have only used one side – consider using a binder clip…. To make a pad of scrap paper.
Recycle Paper: Recycle all paper, even shredded paper. Instead of putting the shredded paper in a plastic bag and throwing it in the trash, use a brown paper lawn and garden bag to gather the material. This way you don't have to switch containers and the paper bits don't blow all over the neighborhood when you put it out for recycling.
Travel: When booking for business travel, use the Green Hotel Initiative’s Best Practices Survey to determine which hotels to use and aim to use the best form of transportation.
Health & Wellness for family, kids and pets: Some of the best cleaning materials are the most basic, least expensive, least toxic and have been around FOREVER. Google baking soda, Vinegar, Salt and prepare to be amazed at the possible uses of these simple cleaning ingredients. If you prefer to purchase your cleaning materials ready-made there are many green cleaners available commercially – Mrs. Meyers, Ecover, Seventh Generation, Bio Kleen are just a few to consider.
The Environmentally Conscious Organizers Collaborative has more info, tips and resources available at their website: www.EnvironmentallyConsciousOrganizers.com.
Michele Matties CPO®
No Worries® Organizing Services
Lynne Johnson CPO-CD®
Lynne Johnson, Organizer
Clear Your Space
Soloff Space Solutions
Doris Hasbun, Organizer
Harmonious Life Designs
Lauren Zalkind, Organizer
"Reuse" is my favorite component of the Reduce, Reuse, Recycle trilogy because new uses for old things are always cropping up! Here's my latest: When play-doh is dried out and done, the empty containers are perfect for storing small amounts of paint so it is easily accessible for touch-ups. The lids fit tightly, and the small size makes it more realistic to keep the paint near where it might be used...unlike that bulky paint can that you probably aren't interested in storing in your kitchen cabinets.
Save the environment by shopping for all your errands (not just groceries) with sturdy reusable bags made out of natural fibers or 100% recyclable material, available in many shapes, sizes and features (e.g., insulated). When you shop with your own bags, many stores give you cash back. The following 4 steps helps you get started:
Want to go more green but aren't sure how to go about it? This website, www.greenyour.com, is your guide to green living. It has five main categories: Home, Office, Body, Lifestyle, and Transportation for you to choose from and then under each of these categories, it is broken down into specifics. It is a great website to help you decide how you can altervarious areas in your life to go green.
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