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Three Easy Steps To An Eco-Friendly Home

As Published In Smead Organomics
Three Easy Steps To An Eco-Friendly Home

Publicity -- Smead Organomics

It seems that the entire organizing industry is focused on how to make homes more eco-friendly — that means “reduce, reuse, and recycle.” When folks hear this phrase, they tend to think of washing out cans, putting newspapers in the blue bin, and turning off lights when leaving a room. But that’s bare minimum — there are plenty of other ways to take “greening-up” your living environment to the next level.


The easiest first eco-step is reducing your dependence on disposable items. We’ve grown so accustomed to using something once or twice (then tossing it out) that most people have forgotten there’s another option — but returning to products that can be reused (like refillable pens and tape dispensers and razors with replaceable blades) will go a long way toward reducing what ends up in a landfill.

Next, you might try to cut back on the amount of packaging you buy. Did you know that as much as 50% of any purchase you make ends up in the trash as discarded wrapping? Companies have gone nuts — swaddling every product they make in more paper, plastic, and cardboard than necessary. But you can outsmart them by avoiding single-serving items, becoming loyal to brands that embrace minimal packaging, and shopping for larger quantities in bigger containers (buying bulk foods, office supplies, cleaning products, and toiletries — then transferring them to your own smaller containers).

Another thing you can lessen is the urge to choose price over quality. It’s good to be cost-conscious — but you can save more by buying durable products that are made to last, even if they cost a few pennies more up-front. For example, cheap file folders or t-shirts or dish rags (that fall apart after a few months’ use and have to be replaced) not only create more trash than a more expensive brand that lasts for years, but also cost you more in the long-run.


It’s time to learn the fine art of re-purposing. We throw a lot of things away because they stop serving their original purpose — but why can’t they be reborn to serve some other function? That old flowerpot may not hold water anymore, but it could contain pens on your desk or utensils on the kitchen counter. A dresser that your child has outgrown could be a great storage piece in your home office or craft room — you just have to think creatively.

Along those lines, find ways to let your paper do double duty. Are you tossing out pages that still have life left in them? Sheets with printing on one side can be flipped over and run through the printer again for rough drafts. Mailing envelopes are great for making lists or taking messages. Manila folders can be turned inside out and re-labeled. Old newspapers, magazines, and junk mail make excellent drop-cloths for arts and crafts projects.


This concept goes beyond the bin out front. You can actually recycle a lot more than you think — but you may have to do some research first. Packing peanuts, refrigerator parts, carpet padding, compact discs, even computer components can all find a second life as part of a new recycled product.

And of course, you know you can also recycle useful items. Recycling isn’t just for “trash” — it’s also a great way to let others enjoy the things you no longer need. Thrift and consignment stores will find buyers for your old clothing, sports equipment, tools and household items. And local shelters can always use your donations. You’re helping someone else, clearing the clutter, and cutting back on trash — a win-win-win!

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Copyright 2001

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Ramona Creel is an award-winning 15-year veteran organizer and member of the National Association Of Professional Organizers. As well as having birthed “The A-To-Z Of Getting Organized,” Ramona is also the author of “The Professional Organizer’s Bible: A Slightly Irreverent And Completely Unorthodox Guide For Turning Clutter Into A Career”—and the creator of more than 200 “quick-start” business tools and templates for use by productivity professionals. She writes seven different blogs, has worked with hundreds of clients, and has delivered scores of presentations on getting organized. Ramona resides on the roads of America as a full-time RVer—living and working in a 29-foot Airstream. Learn more at and

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