Guest: How Getting Organized is Also Being Eco-Friendly

How we use what we have can truly make a difference in our pursuit of helping the environment.

When you think about your stuff—what you buy, how you use things, why you keep what you keep, etc. it enables you to take an honest look at how you're doing your part. Here are a few ways that the process of getting your home office organized can actually help you be more earth-friendly:

Know what you already have. When your space is organized, you know where things are. You can look and know immediately if you need to replenish your supply. In any area of the home or office, knowing what you have will help you to make well-informed purchases, instead of unnecessary ones.

Strive to minimize. With all the attention that's been given to environmental friendliness, there is an endless supply of gadgets and gizmos you can purchase to help reduce your carbon footprint. However, retailers don't mention one of the most important elements in being earth friendly—it’s not what you buy, it's what you avoid buying! When making any purchase, be clear about its use and value to you, as well as what effect it will have on the environment. Think of what you can do to reduce your personal consumption.

If you desire to be more organized and want to be environmentally conscientious at the same time, here some things to keep in mind:

Your home is not a recycling center. Do you have a perpetual pile for the always elusive yard sale? What about a pile of things you want to sell online? Stop putting it off, set a date, mark it on the calendar and hold the sale or post the items and get the ball rolling. Remember—having a yard sale, selling online or donating your items means putting things you no longer use back into circulation. This not only helps the environment, but also helps someone who may not be able to purchase that item new.

Beware of being over-earth friendly. Our environmental awareness can create a desire to want to find ways to recycle anything and everything. In the pursuit of finding the eco-friendliest way to recycle, items can linger in your home indefinitely—causing clutter and frustration. If your pile of recyclable plastic bags is overtaking the kitchen pantry, set time aside to get them to the store's recycle bin or get rid of them.

Monica Friel is president and founder of Chaos To Order - the Chicago area's premiere organizing company since 1990. Friel manages and trains a staff of professional organizers who specialize in everything from household clutter to corporate chaos.

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