Earth Day 2015 – Let’s Talk About Plastic Bags!

It amazes me that so many clients have such an overabundance of plastic bags.  It seems like they are afraid that tomorrow, Ohio will become California and ban plastic bags.  “Well, I walk my dog every day and I use the bags for that.”  OK, that’s seven bags a week.  How many bags do you get when you go to the grocery store each week? Probably seven bags.  Oops, I forgot something.  I need to go back to the grocery store.   This will most likely yield two more bags; maybe more.

Don’t forget Target; yield, five to seven bags. Drug store of choice? Another three.  Miscellaneous store? Three to five bags.

So, if you think about it, the influx of bags into your life is huge.

We need to work on controlling the bags.  I have a client that has stuffed her bags into an empty tissue box.  What a great idea!  So I stuffed 15 bags into a tissue box.  This would allow you 2 weeks of dog walking. Maybe keep the box near the leash and other dog stuff.  Uh, oh, your supply is getting low. Next time you go grocery shopping, those bags go into your dog walking bag inventory.

Do you use bags to line a small wastebasket?  Shove another 15 into another tissue box and put it in a cabinet by that wastebasket.  You probably don’t empty it more than once a week so that bag inventory will give you almost four months.

By corralling all those bags, into smaller controlled  piles, you may have given yourself another empty cupboard that was the dumping ground for your bags.

You really don’t need to keep every bag that comes into your house.  If you recycle, hang a large plastic bag near there and shove your excess bags in there.  When it gets full, tie it up or empty it into another large bag, toss it in the car and take it to the grocery store.  Most grocery stores recycle the plastic bags.

DO NOT PUT YOUR PLASTIC BAGS IN YOUR RUMPKE CONTAINER.  While touring the Rumpke facility, I witnessed a complete shutdown of the facility due to a plastic bag.  Not everything with a triangle of arrows is recyclable in our market.  If there is no buyer for #7 plastics, Rumpke will have to throw it in their trash. Follow the Rumpke rules closely about recycling.  You actually may be contaminating the good recycling by tossing in unwanted plastics.  Visit  for a complete list of acceptable recycling.

5 Reasons Why People Hoard

5 Reasons Why People Hoard

People hoard to fill emotional voids. It’s not about the stuff – it’s about what’s going on with them on a personal level. Here are 5 reasons why people hoard:

1) Loneliness.  Hoarders surround themselves with things to fill the empty space around them so they don’t feel as isolated. Stand in an empty, quiet room and then stand in a room full of furniture with a chiming clock, interesting knick knacks, pictures and books, and you’ll FEEL the difference of the space. Unfortunately, instead of making the home warm, inviting and cozy, the home becomes so crowded it becomes a non-functioning space. People can’t sit on the couches, people aren’t invited over because of the embarrassment of the mess, friends and family threaten to stop coming over until the hoarder cleans up their space, etc. I help clients take back their space while making it warm and inviting again.

2) Impoverished.  For those who grew up during the Depression, grew up in poverty or had “penny pinching parents,” buying things can be very powerful therapy – until  the retail shopping causes more damage than good. These type of hoarders love to bargain shop, buy in bulk, and always have multiples of everything.

3) Grief/Loss.  This is probably the biggest reason why people hoard. Has the hoarder lost someone very close to them – a parent, partner, child, or even a family pet? It doesn’t have to be death – divorce, job loss, retirement and more are all reasons to grieve. Grief is a very serious transition that we must all go through, and some people resort to trying to cope via hoarding. They try to fill the void in their lives, fill the empty space around them, shop for retail therapy to lift their spirits, and hold on to everything they have of the deceased loved one.

4) Memory.  Many hoarders feel they need to keep things so they don’t forget about someone or a special event. They feel they will forget the person or occurrence if they don’t have the item to remind them. I give suggestions like taking pictures of the items to keep in the “Memory Box/Treasure Trunk” and donating the items to a good home where they will be used, loved and appreciated. I also suggest hugging that favorite old t-shirt goodbye before donating it to a good home to ease the transition process, and I also recommend calling the person you’ve been missing and have a long catch-up conversation. If they’ve passed on, write the deceased a letter or talk to them in your own special way.

5) Rescue Mentality, Commonly from Abuse/Neglect.  People will also hoard when they’ve been abused/neglected. Because they were rejected and tossed aside and not taken care of, they rescue items in an effort to rescue themselves. They don’t want to see things go in the landfill, never to be used or cherished. They “might need it one day,” so they hold onto it. I help clients see that instead of that cup sitting in a corner collecting dust for 6 years, they can donate the cup and give it a good home. The cup is not serving its purpose if it’s not being used/cherished/valued so give it a chance to be useful.


– Excerpted from Kiera Rain


Organizing Under the Sink

Looking for an organizing project to get you back outside quickly? Look under your sink. This area can get moldy easily due to any water leaks of which you may not be aware.

First, pull everything out. As you pull out an item, make the call: Do you still use it, or has it been under there since you moved in and you never use it? Divide the items by frequently used and infrequently used. Then you will have the daily used items. These may be dishwasher tablets/detergent and trash bags. These items will be the last to put back.  Wipe out the cabinet and take note of any moisture.

Once you decide what you will keep, see if you have a bin or a box that can be repurposed from elsewhere in the house. Put the items in this container. Of course, this is just temporary storage until you go to the store and get an appreciate bin. Take down the measurement of the size of the container you will need to store these products and write it on the side of the container. When you make your next run, look for the size you need.

If you are somewhat handy, you might also consider installing a pullout cabinet organizer. When you measure for this, be sure to observe any hinges that may get in the way. Many times, you can only install a pullout on one side due to water lines inconveniently installed. Even if you can get one pullout installed, consider doing this. It allows you to get at the items in the back of the cabinet without knocking over the items in the front.  If you don’t install the actual pullout, your bin that you measured can serve as a pullout that isn’t on an official runner.  Just pull out the entire container and you can grab what you need and easily put the whole container back under the sink.

If you keep you trash can under the sink, trim it with a utility knife.  A short trash can that fits usually isn’t big enough to handle a family’s trash needs. The larger size is usually too tall, so when you go to throw something away, there is barely enough clearance to fit your item in. Kids have an even more difficult time throwing things away – it is just too much work for them to tip the trashcan out to fit their trash in. Trim a semi-circle out of the front of the can to allow your hand to fit into the area.  This also will keep your cabinet trim a little cleaner.

Freedom From Clutter

As we approach the Fourth of July, think of giving yourself Freedom from Clutter! When we don’t make a decision, we put down the paper or thing we were deciding upon. Of course, some decisions don’t involve a “thing,” but today we will talk about “thing” deciding. Another “thing” comes along, and we have to make another decision. Well, all those non-decisions become clutter. Clutter is postponed decisions.







So how do you make a decision? Just do it. Yes, it is hard, but if you intensely deliberate over everything in your life, you won’t be able to enjoy life. You will continually be second guessing yourself and your decisions.

Some decisions are easier when they are about ethical or behavioral issues. “Should I just pocket this tube of lipstick because I don’t have time to wait in line?” Or, “I am running late, should I run this red light with the camera?” Those are obvious, but what about the “I am so tired, I don’t want to hang up this suit, so I’ll just throw it over the chair.” If it takes less than 3-5 minutes, just do it. There is no clothes fairy following after you to pick up your stuff. And if you think your spouse is going to do it, do them a favor and just do it yourself.

There are certain things we generally just do to maintain our life. We clean up after meals (or at least we should), we wash our clothes and ourselves. The other little things seem to be OK to leave alone. Well, those other little things can escalate very quickly and become overwhelming.

We are all appalled by the hoarders, but stuff we don’t put away is small scale hoarding. That might seem harsh, and there are other issues that cause hoarding, but finding a home for our stuff is the best way to free ourselves from our clutter.

Student Stuff

As the end of the school year approaches, or has already arrived, it’s time to look at your student’s remnants of the year. That math paper that they got a big smiley face on it, can probably be recycled.

We can’t save everything in our lives. Tell your students this because it pertains to the rest of their lives. Things and stuff come and go in our lives. If you aren’t careful, too much of it comes and very little goes.

The spiral notebooks for each subject should be recycled. If they think they will need it next year, have them write a destruction date on it for the following May. My daughters saved notes for their siblings. While it is nice for the younger sibling to have these notes to look at, they too need to write that destruction date on it for when they finish that grade.

Let’s not forget about the high school and college grads. High School grads; you probably won’t need those papers that you saved after your senior year. Although, my daughter’s freshman year at college proved that she could have used those math notes. She had a great math teacher in high school and not so great in college. Who knew? Regardless, she managed OK without those notes from high school. There was also “stuff” all over her room that had accumulated over the years. By going through it in 1 hour sessions over the summer, she got rid of quite a bit of stuff. This way, when she moves out, it’s all sorted and ready to move on to her new place. She won’t be too happy about it, but it’s her stuff.

College grads; you have been coming and going with your stuff for four years. Some stuff usable one year and not so much the next. Well, it’s time to evaluate all the personal stuff that your siblings or younger cousins can’t use. Do another sort. As you get older, the stuff of the past has less and less meaning. Take care of it now while you have time. And yes you have more time now than you will in the future. Look at your parents who may have recently downsized their parents. As Barbara Berman observed, Professional Organizer from New Jersey, you will be sorting your stuff and more eventually. Why not get rid of that 3rd grade report card now so you aren’t cursing your parents for keeping it, waiting for you to tackle it 40 years later.

Ellen’s Tips for Flower Garden Organization

Springtime flowers are beautiful. After a drab winter, who doesn’t want to add some color to their yard?

And why is Ellen writing about flowers? Well, organization takes place outside your house, as well.

When you decide to add color to your yard, you’re also adding work to your plate. Yes, it is work to plant the flowers, but maintaining them is where the real work begins. Consolidating your floral maintenance is the best plan.

Consider container gardening or planter gardening to consolidate the workload. There are a wide variety of moderately priced pots of varying sizes, colors and textures. Try an odd number of pots of different sizes near your front porch. The pots will add some dimension, and of course, the flowers add the color. Hanging baskets add color at a different focal point. A screw eye with a hanging chain from your garden center can make that basket hang a little lower.

And when it comes to watering the flowers, a coiled hose (not the pocket hose) works great by not having to wind up a hose. It springs back on its own and can easily lay behind a bush. By placing the pots and hanging baskets near the hose, they can easily be watered in five minutes. Even if you planted some flowers in your beds, they can be watered at the same time. Speaking of beds, don’t feel the need to plant flowers the entire length of your beds. A clump of color in a few spots that can be watered easily will add something without adding too much maintenance.

Of course, if you don’t live with a plumber, having a water source nearby your front porch may not be as feasible. But consider how much time it takes to drag a hose and set up the sprinkler – it may be worth it in the long run to have the expense of that additional spigot installed in a convenient location. Beauty in the yard can happen if you help yourself create an easy maintenance program.

Spring Cleaning: Garage Organization

Spring has sprung, and the snow has stopped flying, at least in Central Ohio. That means that it’s time to get rid of the remnants of winter in the garage – and I’m hoping you were parking your cars in the garage over the winter.

Now is the time to consider evaluating the things in your garage. If it has wheels, it can stay on the ground. If not, hang it on the wall. Or, install some shelving to corral all loose items. It is much easier to keep the garage clean with a quick sweep or hose down when there isn’t an abundance of things on the floor.

Although bikes have wheels, if they aren’t ridden very often, a pulley system is a great way to get them up and out of the way.







This system screws into the beams in the ceiling and easily pulls up and down for ease of access.

A track system for hanging tools is the ideal system to address all your tools.








This system screws into the beams on your walls. A variety of hooks are available to accommodate several different tools. There is also a hook to hang a large ladder.

Get the garage organized, and you will enjoy the summer (and ultimately the winter) when the car takes precedence over the stuff of your life.