Discard Responsibly

It’s spring and a prime time to get rid of the clutter and excess in  your home.

We all want it to just “go away” as quickly as possible but let’s think about how we go about it.

Books are sometimes very hard to let go but if you have made up your mind that it is time to let others enjoy some of your books while you enjoy some decluttered space, here are some places they can go.

  • Salvation Army
  • Used book stores
  • Local library
  • Local thrift shops
  • Books for Soldiers, Books through Bars, Books for Africa
  • Goodwill
One important thing about donating your books is to make certain that your old books do not contain mold or harbor unpleasant odors. If you put your tainted book into a pile with others, it will contaminate the whole pile.
Old electronics take up a bunch of space and we are often afraid of getting rid of it or we think it will take a lot of effort to do it responsibly. If it is a computer, you will want to back up your data and completely wipe the system. An easy way is to pull the hard drive and just physically destroy it. If it is a working computer (with a new hard drive) you can donate it. Otherwise recycle it during recycling events or check locally for places to drop off toxic materials. Recycling events will take almost all electronics. Some stores like Best Buy will take old electronics. Cords can be donated. Phones can be donated (after you wipe your personal data).
The important thing is that electronics should not just be dumped in the trash or dumpster.
If you are clearing out your medicine cabinet, read the packaging on the medicine for how best to dispose of it. You can throw some medicines in the trash if they are first placed in kitty litter or coffee grounds and then sealed in a bag. I prefer to put all medicines in a sealed bag and look for a community disposal program.
The important thing is to not flush drugs down the toilet because they will end up in our water system.
As you clear out your pantry of old food, you may find some that you want to donate to a food bank. Do not donate food that is beyond the expiration date or that is in dented or rusted cans. If you decide to dump the old food but recycle the cans and jars, be very careful those cans and jars are clean. Throwing in a can with food still stuck in it can ruin an entire batch of recycling. 
Enjoy your clear space but think before you toss.

Jonda S. Beattie

Professional Organizer

Bathroom Organization

If you  are following my zone plan, this month is a good month to work on organizing your bathrooms. If you have a linen closet, include it in this zone.

Your bathroom is one of the smaller rooms in your home but it is also one that is heavily used and holds many items. A bathroom can get disorganized and cluttered quickly, so it is important to have a vision and a plan for how you want to use this space. Keep clutter to a minimum. Minimize what you actually store here.

Look at the storage space you have available. Do you have room to store your medicines and first aid material here? Do you have room to house cleaning materials? Some of what you are currently storing in the bathrooms may actually be stored somewhere else. In small bathrooms, first store only what you need each week and then, if room permits, add other items.

Use the medicine cabinet, drawers, or space under your sink to store items that you use regularly like daily grooming supplies. Small baskets are great for makeup and hair supplies. The medicine cabinet may hold toothpaste, dental needs, deodorant,  and some q tips and cotton balls. Hair dryers, curling irons, gels, sprays, and all items for your hair can be stored in a container under your sink. If your space is limited, you might also have a hanging bag on the back of your bathroom door for storage. An extra roll of toilet paper and personal hygiene items can store under the sink area.

If you have drawers, designate each drawer as a container for like items. One drawer may be everyday makeup, one may be for eye products, one may hold hair products, etc.

As you are sorting your like items together, consolidate partial bottles and get rid of any items you no longer are using or items past their expiration date.

Shampoo, body wash, soap, and a wash cloth may be stored inside your shower or tub. There are shower cadies that fit over the door of your shower or over the shower head. Another option is to use a shower dispenser to hold shampoo or body wash.

Medicines can go in bins on a shelf in the linen closet or in the kitchen. Both spaces are better than the actual bathroom as moisture and heat can ruin some meds. Consider sorting your medicines by type and placing them in separate bins. One bin might hold outdoor items like sunscreen, bug spray, or Benadryl. Another might hold pain medicine and cold/allergy medicine. Still another might have first aid materials. Get rid of expired items while sorting. Not only do some medicines lose their effectiveness over time but some can actually become harmful. Dispose of these items responsibly. Do not toss medicines in the trash and never flush them into our water system. The DEA offers a Prescriptions Drug Take Back Day. Check http://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/drug_disposal/takeback?index.html for more information.

If you have a linen closet, keep your extra towels, cosmetics, and cleaning supplies there. But as you organize, be ruthless about throwing out items. You don’t need 5 partial bottles of shampoo, 6 sample soaps, or that free sample in foil of a shampoo/conditioner that came in the mail.

If you don’t have a linen closet, you may use towel hooks, over the toilet shelving, or baskets to store your extra bath towels, wash cloths, and extra toilet paper.

When you have your bathroom organized, then work out a maintenance schedule to keep it under control. Next year, when you revisit this zone, it will be an easier process.

Jonda S. Beattie

Professional Organizer