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5 Rules for Eco-Friendly Organization

By Alison Alford

Marin Rose, from Functional &  Fashionable, joined DC Eco-Women February 1 for a presentation on how to get organized in a green and eco-friendly way.

Marin opened up the event to a large crowd with a few inspiring remarks, “Don’t own anything you don’t love,  that you don’t need… or both.”  Marin stressed that streamlining your life can be an eco-friendly process, and when you are organized, your life is ascetically, spatially, and emotionally streamlined—without the need for clutter.  Marin reminded us that useless clutter is emotionally draining, and gives us a false sense of security.

Marin’s 5 Rules for Organizing Your Life:

1.  Know what you have and what you need.  By knowing exactly how many wearable dress shirts you own, or how many boxes of cereal your household consumes in a timeframe, you stop overbuying items that you already have. Marin asked how us, “How many times have you bought an item at a sale, and then discovered at home that you already own a similar item?”  When you know what’s already in your closet, in your pantry, or in storage, you don’t run the risk of wasting money and time purchasing items that you already own.  Marin said that this also applies to perishable goods; when you figure out how many heads of lettuce you can consume in a week, you stop over purchasing groceries and no longer throw perfectly good food (and money) out in the garbage.

Once you figure out how many dress shirts you have in your closet, how do you figure out how many shirts you’ll need?  Marin suggests that you look at how many times you wear or use that item in a week, multiply by 4 to get the number you would wear in a month, and then adjust up or down based on the instance. For example, I usually wear a button up dress shirt to work every day.  I would multiple my 5 shirts a week by 4 weeks to give me the 20 dress shirts that I would wear in a month.  I would then subtract 3 shirts or so, because I can wash and rewear a white dress shirt numerous times a month.  If I have 30 dress shirts in my closet, I now know that I can donate 10 – 12 of my older or outdated shirts without needing to purchase any more shirts.

2.  Donate items frequently!  Once you know exactly what you have in your house, you will find that you have a pile of items that you no longer need.  There are many organizations that will gladly accept your out-of-fashion pantsuit or your ancient pair of tennis shoes mildewing in the closet.   By donating items that you no longer use, you remove clutter from your home and give that item a new life with a deserving recipient.  Marin suggested Soles for SoulsGoodwillMartha’s TableBooks for America, or Dress for Success as a few organizations that will happily accept your donated clothes, household goods, and food.  You can even write many donations off on your taxes.

3.  Keep a Calendar.  Want to write a book? Run a marathon?  Repaint your living room? Schedule it on your calendar!  It’s easy to commit to a goal, no matter how large or small, if you schedule it on your calendar.  The trick is to keep your appointment with yourself.  Marin says, “If you respect other people enough to keep appointments with them, respect yourself and keep your own appointments with yourself!”  You’ll find that the goal of organizing your bedroom closet “one day” will happen as if by magic when you write in 1 hour a day of cleaning and organizing into your daily planner.

4.  Do the Work Before You Purchase the Solution.  Many times you find that you already own the perfect container for your out-of-season clothes, you just need to organize the clothes.  By committing to doing the work first, you will easily find a solution at hand for many of the problems you face.  Marin suggested re-purposing old shoe boxes to use as storage spaces for scarves and hats, used gift bags for your make-up, and using luggage to store out-of-season clothes.

5.  Determine where to spend money and where to save money.  One pair of expensive, yet well-made dress shoes will last numerous seasons, while those three pairs of cheap “knock-offs” that you bought on sale will disintegrate after the second use.  You don’t need to live a life of austerity; you just need to be mindful of when you should spend a little more to purchase something that will last. Marin said, “If more of us have this mentality, there will be less waste overall.”

Marin concluded the event by introducing Andrea from, an eco-friendly moving company that eliminates the cardboard box.  Repax offers predetermined room bundles of shipping containers and eco-friendly packaging supplies. They offer services in the DC metropolitan area, as well as Los Angeles and New York City.  Marin offers her services for organizing or redecorating your home or office, staging your home for a sale, or helping you pack for a move.  She often partners with when she helps a client move.

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