Organizing Tips

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Recycle It

This is the third post in my series on Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. While addressing the actual clutter, I also give some hints on how to reduce what comes in your house, reuse items within your home and finally where to recycle items in Austin, Texas. I think recycling is really important and luckily we live in a city that believes this as well. Within the City of Austin, the Austin Resource Recovery department has a goal to reach Zero Waste by 2040. This would reduce the amount of trash sent by landfills by 90%.

The City of Austin has an extensive website dedicated to recycling resources. I thought it would be helpful if I provided some of the links and information by category.

Residential Recycling
http://www.austintexas.gov/department/single-stream-recycling

In the City of Austin we have Single Stream Recycling – which means you can recycle paper, plastic, metal and glass in your blue recycling cart and put at your curb for weekly pick-up. I’m kind of a nut about recycling as much as possible! The more you recycle obviously the less trash you have. Did you know you can request a smaller trash can from the city and then you’ll be charged less on your monthly utility bill?

What can you recycle? Based on the information provided by the City of Austin, I created a helpful info-graphic on what you can put in your blue recycle cart. You can also download it here.

Residential Recycling

There are some guidelines to Plastic Recycling. I often see people recycling plastic bags but this is not allowed. Here are the other guidelines:

  • Remove metal components from plastic items
  • Empty and rinse items before recycling them
  • Only hard plastics are accepted; plastic foam, plastic bags, and plastic wrap are not allowed
  • Make sure all items fit inside the blue recycling cart with the lid closed

One thing I learned when creating this post was that you can actually set out extra recycling next to your recycling cart for no extra charge. Just make sure they are in a cardboard box or reusable container. You can also set out cardboard in a manageable pile (2’ x 2’) next to your cart (especially helpful around the holidays with all of those Amazon boxes!) If you run out of room in your recycling cart between pickups, you can always call and request (512-494-9400) an extra blue cart for free.

Clothing and Housewares Recycling
http://www.austintexas.gov/clothing

A big step in de-cluttering is getting rid of unwanted items. Your first stop is most likely going to be donation. You may already have your go-to place for taking items, but if not the City of Austin has a great directory to figure out where to donate or sell your particular item.

However, sometimes something is not even suitable for donation. In the past I’ve had to throw out a few pieces of children’s clothing or shoes that were beyond donation status. I’ve hesitated putting in the trash because it just seems wrong! Well, there is now a solution for this. The City of Austin offers a fairly new program to pick up clothing and housewares for recycling that you do not want to donate. It is offered through a for-profit company called, Simple Recycling. If you are in the city limits you should have received a green plastic bag earlier this year when they rolled out the program, however if you need one you can request it here. You simply fill up the bag with clothing and housewares and place next to your recycling cart on your recycling collection day. Once the bag is picked up, they will leave an empty bag or two. You may be wondering what they do with the items. According to the City of Austin website, “Simple Recycling sells as many items for reuse as possible, first within the state of Texas, then nationally, then internationally. Items that cannot be reused are sold for recycling. Only items that cannot be reused or recycled are disposed of in the landfill.”

This is a great free resource for items that are beyond despair and not suitable for donation!

Recycle & Reuse Drop Off Center
http://www.austintexas.gov/dropoff

The Recycle & Reuse Drop Off Center is a mostly free resource to City of Austin residents, where you can donate several different types of items that can be recycled or safely discarded. Below is more information on the services offered (most are free but some services have a fee – like discarding tires).

Household Hazardous Waste

Did you know paint eventually expires? I just learned that after I wanted to repaint some rooms in our house with some existing paint that was about 5 years old. In preparing for this post, I was happy to learn that there is place you can drop off old paint and other hazardous waste.

The Recycle & Reuse Drop Off Center accepts most household chemicals including:

  • Cleaning products
  • Automotive fluids and oil filters
  • Paint and thinners
  • Fluorescent light bulbs
  • Batteries (car and household)
  • Pesticides and herbicides
  • Mercury
  • Aerosol cans
  • Pool chemicals
  • Cooking oil
  • Propane cylinders

Electronics & Appliances

If the item plugs in, the Recycle & Reuse Drop Off Center probably takes it.

Other Recyclables

The Recycle & Reuse Drop Off Center accepts all single-stream recycling as well as plastic bags and film, Styrofoam (NO packing peanuts) and scrap metal.

Click here to view the list of items accepted and not accepted at the Recycle & Reuse Drop Off Center.

Recycle & Reuse Drop Off Center Location
See Map – located just East of I-35 off of Ben White
2514 Business Center Drive, Austin, 78744
Phone: 512-974-4343
Hours: Monday – Friday: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Saturday: 7 a.m. to noon

The cool thing about the Recycle & Reuse Drop Off Center is that they have a ReUse Store that has items in usable condition for free. Items can include: Art supplies, Cleaning products, Household chemicals, Automotive fluids.

Other items available at the ReUse store:

  • Austin ReBlend Paint – this is paint that is reblended from the paint dropped off at the center and is free to individuals!
  • Mulch – also free but you must load the mulch yourself (consider bringing: shovel, gloves and containers)

Battery Recycling
http://www.austintexas.gov/page/battery-drop-locations

The City of Austin maintains a big list of libraries and companies that accept battery donations. Check out the list here for a location near you and then set up a container in your house to collect old batteries.

Unwanted Mail
https://catalogchoice.org/

Are you as sick of junk mail as I am? I think in 10 years we will be appalled that companies were allowed to mail us junk. Of course you’ll want to recycle as much as you can but how about getting off the lists to begin with. The City of Austin recommends Catalog Choice – which is a non-profit that is on a mission to stop junk mail for good!

I didn’t highlight every single service offered by the Austin Resource Recovery department so I highly recommend you check out their website if you need to recycle something and it wasn’t covered above. Most likely there is a place for it! They even have a nifty search tool you can use as a guide to find out what do to do with unwanted to items. Click here to access the What Do I Do With tool.

If any of these tips have helped, please share your success and tag me in the post – @holisticallyorganized

If you need help  getting started — please give me a call so we can discuss how I can help ~ 512.924.1619!

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Reuse It

Next up – Reuse It…

In my last post I shared ways to reduce clutter in your home and reduce the amount of stuff you bring into your home. Now I want to share 5 ways to reuse everyday things. Most of these ideas stem from a combination of me being frugal 🙂 as well wanting to be environmentally responsible! In the next post I will give you some recycling tips to finish out how best to Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.

One

Reuse furniture – we had originally purchased this 6-cube shelf for my husband’s massive t-shirt collection in our master closet. However, we eventually installed Container Store Elfa shelving (which by the way is a wonderful investment) and had no longer had a need for this particular piece in our closet. I absolutely hate to get rid of furniture so I thought of a great place for it – somewhere that I never intended to put a piece of furniture. I put it in the hallway between our boy’s bedrooms and filled with toys and over-sized books. It has turned out to be the perfect addition for the area. Another example of this would be when I reused the mug rack holders in an earlier post for necklaces. It’s not exactly furniture but a similar idea.

 

Two

Reuse baggies – I admit I have a baggie addiction! They are such a great way to organize and contain but I realized I was going through them way too fast. Now I reuse any baggies that were not used for food. I keep a little collection in different sizes and then use them to organize: puzzles, extra office supplies, small toy parts, etc.

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Three

Reusable bags – Because of my baggie addiction, I started to buy a few reusable baggies. I love feta cheese in block form but once you open it, it makes a bit of a mess unless you contain it. We always have it in the house so I found myself reaching for a new baggie every couple of weeks when we got a new block of cheese. Since the baggie gets pretty icky by the end of block, I thought a reusable baggie would be the perfect solution for this. And it has been! The one we have is the Stasher Reusable Silicone Food Bag*. It’s nice and sturdy, has a tight seal and can go in the dishwasher. 

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Reusable baggies and containers also come in handy for school snacks. We need to send three snacks to school for my oldest son and I knew I didn’t want to go through that many baggies a day so we use the containers in the picture below to send fruit, veggies and other snacks. The links for both products are below. 

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We are big fans of the Take & Toss Toddler Bowls with Lids*. They are great for traveling! The Lunchskins Reusable Velcro Sandwich Bag* is a new edition to our reusable supply but it works great and is dishwasher safe. There are a ton of patterns to choose from!

Four

Reusable napkins and kitchen towels – About 5 years ago, I was browsing Etsy and the cutest cloth napkins caught my eye! I realized what a good idea it was to ditch our paper napkins and some buy cloth ones. It has saved us money and decreased the amount of trash we have (we aim for 1-2 bags of trash a week). And they are cute to boot! The following have great reviews and are on my Amazon wish list: Cotton Craft – Water Color Effect Plaid Cotton Dinner Napkins*. Instead of using paper towels or sponges to clean our kitchen and bathroom counters I use microfiber towels. I purchased the Zwipes Microfiber Towel Cleaning Cloths* few years ago and keep them under the kitchen and bathroom sinks. I’ll use several throughout the week and then just throw them in the wash. They are obviously more economical than paper towels and I feel like they are more hygienic than sponges since we only use once before washing.

Five

Reuse organizational products – In an effort to try to get organized many of us purchase products to help us. Sometimes, though, we purchase something that just isn’t quite right for the area. On top of my boy’s dressers was their diaper changing station that had a basket next to the changing pad filled with diapers, wipes and other baby necessities. Once they had outgrown that phase I now had a couple extra baskets. Initially, I kept them in our bathroom closet and was using them both to hold some of my workout gear. At the same time, under my bathroom sink I had a disorganized situation. We kept toothbrush chargers, our steamer, as well as many different sizes of curling irons. We mainly would just toss the item back under the sink since we didn’t really have anything to corral it in. I was thinking about this area recently and thought I wanted a pull-out drawer. I bought a couple of these from Target and was excited to use them because they were a great price, really sturdy and also looked great! As they were sitting on my bedroom floor waiting for me to install them, I happened to notice that the two baskets in our closet were not being used fully. So instead, I put everything in one basket in the closet and used the other basket for under the sink. It fit perfectly under the sink and was the right size to hold everything. It also pulled out easily so no need to install the pull out drawer. It was nice to be able to just use what I had on hand and return the one I purchased back to Target!

I hope these tips inspire you to look around your home and think of ways you can reuse products or incorporate reusable products into your lives.

If any of these tips have helped, please share your success and tag me in the post – @holisticallyorganized

If you need help thinking of ways to reuse products in your home – please give me a call so we can discuss how I can help ~ 512.924.1619!

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Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

It’s Springtime! And in Austin we actually had a Spring as opposed to going from Winter to Summer as we usually do. When Spring arrives everyone usually gets the urge to purge (except for me as I usually get the urge to purge every season 🙂 ) so in the next few posts I plan to give you some tips on how to Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.

First up – Reduce!

When I think about the word Reduce, I mean it in a couple different ways: first, reduce the amount of clutter in the house and second, reduce the amount of stuff coming into the house.

Spring de-cluttering can feel overwhelming, especially if you have a lot of areas that need help. My advice is to start small. Start with a drawer like I recently did. I have a cord drawer that was getting out of hand. Every time we purchase any type of electronic device these days it seems like they are all powered with a micro USB cord. We would put all the cords in this one drawer as well as USB plugs and external battery packs. A couple years ago I tried to organize all of the cords with binder clips and rubber bands but that tactic did not work and the system was not sustainable. I knew that I should probably purchase a drawer organizer this time to really maximize the space as well as help maintain moving forward. I really love the InterDesign Rain Organizer Tray (affiliate link). I’ve used it in several drawers because it’s sturdy and high quality.

My process was to empty the drawer and only put back the cords that we are currently using. Instead of having 15 micro USB cords, I pulled out three of varying lengths and put them in one section. I put iPhone cords in the next section. Then a section for headphones and a cord for one of the boy’s toys. Another section for an old iPhone cord (the boys use the old iPhones for music) and another cord for a toy. And then finally a section for the USB plugs. Now the drawer only has the cords we currently use on a day to day basis. As far as the rest of the micro USB cords – I put about 5 more in the other cord storage we have and got rid of the rest.

My 5 tips for reducing the clutter within your home:

  1. Start small so that you can feel like you accomplished something ~ it doesn’t have to happen all in one day
  2. Go through all of the items and decide if you are currently using it, if not get rid of it (I will provide a list of recycling resources in the next couple of weeks)
  3. After you have decided what you will keep, determine if you need some sort of organizing solution, like a drawer organizer, divider, bin or basket, etc. – remember to shop your home first
  4. Put everything back and with the most used items near the front for easy access
  5. Moving forward, before putting something new in the space, determine if it should really be there

I love the phrase – a place for everything and everything in its place – because it is so true, if you make a place for everything it will be easier to keep things in their own place. Another bonus is that you will also begin to reduce the amount of time you spend looking for things!

So how can you reduce the amount coming into your home? Believe me, I know it is hard, especially in the times we live in with Amazon Prime a short click away! However, reducing the amount that comes in to your home can help you reduce the amount of clutter in your home and hopefully save you money as well.

My 5 tips for reducing the amount of stuff that comes into your home:

  1. Only buy what you need – easier said than done, thanks to Target; however if you really do have a goal of reducing the amount of stuff that comes into your home, then make a shopping list and stick to it
  2. Don’t purchase something just because it’s on sale – see point #1 above about making a list, then resist the urge to buy those cute note cards that are on 30% clearance at Target since you know you have plenty of note cards at home
  3. Don’t purchase clothes in a wish-ful size or shoes that are kind of comfortable – if the outfit doesn’t fit and make you feel fabulous in the store and the shoes don’t feel like slippers then don’t purchase them
    • Consider a one-in/one-out shopping method – if you do end up purchasing that fabulous top or comfortable shoes consider donating one of your current tops or pair of shoes
  4. Sign up for Amazon Save & Subscribe (if you have room in your home for bulk purchases) – Amazon’s Save & Subscribe is a monthly delivery service where you can get everything from a refrigerator water filter to razors and everything in between; when you sign up for a service like this you can adjust your delivery items each month so you can check your supplies for what you need and get only that delivered [this also helps with point #1 above]
  5. Reduce the amount of mail you receive – sign up for online statements for all of your bills; consider subscribing to online magazines and newspapers (especially if you keep falling behind on reading them)

If you need help reducing the amount of clutter in your home – please give me a call so we can discuss how I can help ~ 512.924.1619!

Kids

Is the Art piling up?

Both of my boys have been in daycare since they were babies and I remember anxiously awaiting the day they brought their first masterpiece home. It is wonderful seeing what things they create and their imaginations evolve! However, if you are like me you wondered what in the world to do with all the art! There. Is. So. Much. Art!

Before I came up with a system, the art would stay on the counter for about a week and then move to a pile on my desk for another few weeks or months! The system I’ve created currently works for us and our 5 year old and 3 year old. I’m sure as they grow older this system will change.

There are four places that the art will go and the type of art (or the quality :)) will determine which place it will end up.

1) The Art Wall – We have an “Art Wall” upon entering our house through our garage. This is generally where I put the items that I absolutely love. By the way, yes – I do feel a bit bad being a harsh judge of my children’s artwork but with the amount that comes home, I tend to favor the painting and glued art over the “paper cut” and marker scribble artwork!

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Our view as we walk in the house!

    2) The Back of their Bedroom Door – This is for bigger pieces or pieces they love and put a lot of effort into. We tape the art on the back of their door so that they can appreciate their work.

    IMG_3572.jpg
    The back of my oldest son’s bedroom door.

    3) Their Personal Basket – They each have a basket in their room that sits on their dresser that didn’t really have a purpose. Recently I started putting in there their 3-dimensional artwork. This year my oldest made a cute groundhog with a paper cup for Groundhog’s Day, which would be hard to hang or file.

    IMG_3573.jpg
    They can put their 3D art and other tschotskes here.

    4) The Art File – and speaking of filing, the last place that I will put their art is in a file box to keep for the future. This is where the majority of the art goes. Prior to the new school year I will take down the work from the art wall and their bedroom door and put in the file box. That way we have clean slates for the upcoming school year! In the file box is a file for daycare for each boy and then this year my oldest has a new file for Pre-K. I’m guessing moving forward the boys will have their own file box and I will create a file for each school year.

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    The art file!

    There is a 5th place…can anyone guess what it is?? This place is where the art goes when the boys aren’t looking 🙂 You know the type that goes here…the crayon and marker scribles or the coloring sheets, etc.

    I hope this gives you an idea of where to put your children’s lovely artwork!

    If you’ve got piles of art and need help figuring out where to put it – please give me a call so we can discuss how I can help ~ 512.924.1619!

    Kids

    Organization Tip for Caregivers

    About once a year my husband and I will take a much needed trip without our kids! My mom will stay with the kids and she will get much needed Nonna-time with them.

    My mom usually teases me for the 4 page document I prepare for her explaining what needs to happen when and where the kids need to be at what time. But the one thing she does appreciate is the medicine dosing chart I have taped to the medicine cabinet in the boy’s bathroom.

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    On the one pictured, the Ibuprofen chart is on the back but in the Word document provided below both charts are on one page.

    It’s not just for my mom’s convenience, though. It’s for my husband and mine as well. When our son started going to daycare he, of course, started to get the many daycare colds. We were constantly trying to find the poorly Xerox-copied medicine dosing chart from the pediatrician. Finally I decided to create my own nice looking one, laminate it and put it somewhere helpful – next to the medicine!

    I either put the boy’s initials next to their current weight category or I’ll write out their current weight. That way if it is in the middle of the night and I’m dealing with a sick child, I can quickly check what the correct dosage is according to the pediatrician.

    I thought this might be a handy document others could use so I’ve made it available here as a download. It is in Word so that you can adjust if your pediatrician has different suggested dosage amounts.

    Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional. This document was copied from my pediatrician’s medicine dosing chart provided by Tylenol and Motrin. Please consult with your doctor to confirm your own dosage.