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Clutter. It’s distracting, depressing & can ruin a good day when it catches us at our door. It steals our focus. Why do we let it drag us down & keep us from enjoying our day? Because we are either lazy or lack a good method to diminish or eliminate it. Perhaps even both! If we just made a few baby steps towards banishing clutter, we could add so much to our daily living! Getting rid of clutter will not only tidy up a space – it will enhance your life. Sound crazy? Think about it… if we weren’t trapped or crowded by disarray, we would spend less time picking up, searching for things and being generally confined by our chores. Instead, we would have added time to relax, enjoy family, play, and so much more!

Start at the door – Which door do you use the most? In our house we use the main entrance. As we walk in our front door we find a small rack that is installed onto the wall. It was an inexpensive purchase totaling less than $15. It’s perfect for keeping coats or backpacks from crowding the floor. A key rack would be great for some families as well – you’ll always know where they are when it’s time to lock up or take the car for a spin. Shoe racks are a great addition to an entry way as well – this not only serves the purpose of keeping your footwear tidy & in one location. It also reminds you to remove your shoes & keeps from tracking debris though your house. You can store out-of-season footwear in storage containers to cut down on the amount by your door.

De-junk your mail – Junk mail was a big issue in our house. Endless envelopes and papers found their way stacked up on counters, tables and desks. Not only is this a clutter problem, but it’s a waste problem as well! Stand next to your paper recycling bin and trash can when opening mail. This inhibits you from piling up more junk to clean later. Discard all advertisements, papers and mail that you do not need. File bills for payment. Keep only magazines that you intend to read (and when you’re done recycle them by way of passing them on to others or donating to church, doctors office, etc). Contact companies to remove yourself from mailing lists. Choose to opt-out of free mailings to conserve paper and eliminate your receipt of trash.

Clean up after each meal – Insist that items are put back in their proper location after meals. Clear the table. Place dishes in the dishwasher and wipe down the counters. Run the vacuum or sweep through the kitchen. This reduces what you will have to do later or in the morning. You will be more relaxed with the tidy state of the room.

Keep a box for donations, trash and sales – Go through items as you cross paths with them. While you’re folding laundry make note of the item’s size, color, wear. Does this fit anyone in the house? Is it’s color complementary? Is it too worn? Does it even get worn? Get rid of clothing items that don’t meet the criteria for needing to keep. As you are putting things away, do a “once over” to see if they are items that are no longer being used. While cleaning up toys, note if the toys are broken, get played with or are still age-appropriate. Any items in your house that don’t have a need, get rid of! Throw away items that have no use to anyone. Put items in an area for a garage sale. Donate items as well! Places like Goodwill, Salvation Army or local churches & organizations are happy to receive your donations!

Make a realization – Not everything of value is valuable. I realize this sounds contradictory, but it holds truth – I promise! Just because something is worth money or is attached to a memory, that does not mean it needs to be kept for all eternity. Be at peace with letting go. Realize how items may improve someone else’s life or how its value can add to a charitable cause. Take snapshots of items that are haunted with memories so that you can look back at them – old outfits, toys and more. If it’s not an heirloom and not adding an aspect of function or decoration to your house (and this does not mean in a “decorative pile” in your unused basement or storage closet) then you can part with it.

Teach your children – Contrary to popular believe, you should not be following your child with a trash can and broom! Teach your children to clean up after themselves. Assign chores. Ban playtime until all jobs are done. This will help add to the overall cleanliness of your living environment as well as get the whole family involved. Have young children? Don’t use the excuse that they are too young to keep them from helping! Even my two year old is learning to clean up with age-appropriate tasks. My four year old clears and wipes the table after meals and my toddler helps by carrying a few small things to the counter.

There are countless methods and lists to follow for clutter elimination. Chances are, even if you followed all of the lists around, there would still be some areas of clutter in your life! But it can’t hurt to take a few small steps to try and rid yourself of what you can & get back to just enjoying life!

Have useful tips? Share them here! I will choose one of my favorite tips & the winner will receive a FREE cotton t-shirt from Cotton Mamma just like the one seen here! I will choose the winner on Wednesday, April 23rd, 2008!

So, what are you waiting for?

I’m sitting here, and I am at a loss in my effort to figure out when we got to the point that we are at – the point at which we don’t care about our one Earth around us. The point where all is taken for granted and we all just assume that our resources will never be depleted and that new is the best thing to have. Since I’ll never be able to really figure out why we (we as in the general population of the world) ever got to this point, I’ll have to focus on how to fix it. How can I fix this? Add awareness? Make a difference?

There are countless things that I can do – that we all can do – to add to the effort to preserve this amazing planet for the next generations – the generations probably running at your feet right now or climbing on you as you read this. Your children and theirs. I’ll start with the simplest things…

For goodness sakes, recycle. It’s really not that hard & takes minimal effort. And this isn’t just for empty beer cans or plastic pop bottles. This is for all the “trash” you think you have. Honestly, what truly is trash? It’s the name for something that no longer has any use. Not just something you don’t want anymore, but it is no longer valuable or useful to anyone for anything. Using that simple definition, we should all think – really think – before discarding something carelessly. Is this trash? Perhaps it’s not trash, but something different. Perhaps it’s just unwanted, unloved or useless to you. If that’s the case, decide where it would be useful or who would love and want it. I truly believe that, in doing this, you will find a lot less trash around you, as well as make this world a bit tidier.

Let’s start with a few simple things that we can all do to use to live by the three “R’s” (reduce, reuse, recycle (in list format for ease):

1. Start by eliminating the trash that you purchase. If you don’t buy it, you don’t have to throw it away. This means, look for products with minimal to zero packaging. We are consumers of waste! Perhaps if we do this one, simple thing, a message may be sent to companies – stop selling us trash! Use less packaging! And, at the very least, there will be less for us to toss in the garbage each day.

I do understand that some items must be bought with packaging. Try your best to purchase items made with post consumer recycled materials. Also, check the labels to see if the packaging may be recycled. Better still, know what items your area recycles and purchase that packaging. Many items have the recyclable symbols, but facilities in your area may not recycle them. That just means they go to the landfill (an example are the different kinds of plastics).

2. Repair items that can be repaired instead of casting them aside as useless forever. Just because something is broken doesn’t mean that it should be doomed to the trash heap! If you can fix it, do so & continue to use it. And if you simply must still have new, fix the item still & give it away or donate it so that someone else may love it.

3. Donate donate donate. Not only does this give others a chance to use your item again, should you not desire to do so, it gives you something nice to deduct on your taxes. Who doesn’t love a little extra money back every year? Even items such as stained or ripped clothing can be donated – they are turned into rags & sold off by the pound by many thrift stores. Items like old towels and un-loved or worn out stuffed animals can be given to animal shelters! Use a little brain power to consider where else your items may be needed. Remember – something does not fall into the category of trash until it is no longer usefull to anyone – not just you.

4. Recycle! This doesn’t just mean aluminum cans or glass bottles – this means everything around you. Yes, please recycle food & beverage containers, but more than just those can be “played again.” Fabric scraps can be used to stuff pillows or homemade stuffed animals. Newspapers can be used to clean windows (and can still be tossed in the recycle bin after that!). Old sheets can be used to cover plants during a frost or sewn into an apron. Coffee cans are great piggy banks! Old t-shirts make great rags for cleaning or washing the car. The list goes on endlessly – be creative! Think “outside the box!”

5. Compost! Many areas are now offering community composting. But, at our house, we compost & reuse the nutrients for our gardens in the spring! Again, trash is something that has no use at all – so think before tossing your food scraps in the trash. Can it be composted? An incredible amount of trash is eliminated from our family alone, simply by composting. We have a container in the kitchen (an old coffee can works wonderfully!) that we put all our compost goodies in, emptying it into a compost pile when full. Wonderful, nutrient rich foods for the soil. Things like egg shells, coffee grounds, vegetable peelings and more. This may sound or even look gross to the average person, but to me I see a gold mine for our spring time garden.

6. Purchase or craft your own reusable items. Stop buying things like paper towels when cloth works just fine (even better in my opinion). Consider other washable items like family cloth, cloth diapers & wipes, nursing pads, dinner napkins. When packing lunches don’t use paper or plastic bags. Instead, reach for a reusable tote or lunch box. Ban things like plastic baggies and opt for products like the Wrap N Mat. Reusable drink containers like the Klean Kanteen are also a better, eco-friendly choice. Cloth pads & Sea Pearls are environmentally friendly as well. If there is a disposable product and a reusable one – opt for the one that will go the distance and live a long life.

7. Use packaging multiple times. Get an item in the mail? Save the box or mailing envelope to later package up something you intend to mail. More often than not a box or polymailer can be used again. Slit the opening carefully & store it for later use! Just imagine the waste we could banish if 5 people used a box again before it got the “boot” (and hopefully the “boot” is getting made into something new since polymailers and cardboard are recyclable!).

… and the list could continue on and on and…

Hopefully this will get our brains working more & people will take the few seconds that it takes to think about an item & whether it’s really trash before casting it aside. And please, don’t keep this information to yourself! Pass it on via word of mouth, educating your young ones or pass on the link.

I dare you to find passion in this subject as I have. I dare you to make a difference.

Peace.

Hello world ;)

Hello all! I blinked too fast & decided that I need just one more thing to do in my life! That’s right, a blog! I’m just not getting going, but be sure to check in now and again as I am sure to add things. I love living naturally, so I’m hoping to update this site often with ideas on how to make changes to do just that! In addition, I’ll share natural recipes, fun tutorials and more.

I hope this turns out to be fun for me & anyone that digests my writings.

Peace.